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The Climate Adaptation Center Announces the 2023 Climate Champions Award Ceremony


It’s time to celebrate!

The Climate Adaptation Center has just wrapped up our world-class 2023 Florida Climate Conference, where the discussion focused on making the shifts from threat to opportunity and reaction to prevention with the goals of adapting to our warming climate and reducing risks from climate-related disruptions. Now it’s time to celebrate Southwest Florida’s most influential and accomplished contributors to the cause of protecting our environment and our Florida way of life. Let’s show our Climate Champions our gratitude for their commitment to our region!

Let’s honor our champions, nominated by the community, at a lively awards ceremony hosted by CAC CEO Bob Bunting and CAC Director Elizabeth Moore on April 18th, 2023. The inaugural event will be held in Sarasota at Michaels on East, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  These worthy nominees help make the Suncoast a better place to live and we hope you will help us recognize their achievements. Please join us for lunch to celebrate these individuals at our inaugural celebration, and help the CAC grow to further its mission.

Take a moment to look at the incredible stewards of our environment that we will be honoring for their hard work and commitment to protecting and preserving the Gulf Coast region.

Ed Chiles, All Clams on Deck

Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, and Charlotte Harbor are increasingly at risk of impaired water quality and declining seagrass coverage. Ed Chiles decided to help tackle the problem by launching All Clams on Deck, an organization aimed at restoring clams and seagrass to our waterways, helping to restore water quality and grow the coastal economy. All Clams on Deck is an initiative of the Gulf Coast Shellfish Institute, a leader in research for sustainable aquaculture and healthy ecosystems. Read more here.

Charles Reith, Surf Micro Forests

Microforests are powerful agents to improve the quality of our coastal waters and combat climate change. They intercept an enormous quantity of storm water that could otherwise carry unwanted nutrients to the bay, potentially fueling algae blooms. Thanks to Charles Reith and Suncoast Urban Reforesters (SURF), many high performance microforests have been planted on small parcels of land not earmarked for development and they are planning more along the Florida Suncoast. Here is a video of one such project recently completed at the Colony Cove Microfest and Volunteer Day in Ellenton.

Jennifer and David Shafer, Science and Environment Council

For more than 15 years, Drs. Jennifer and David Shafer have tirelessly dedicated themselves to education and leadership in science-based strategic planning, facilitation, and communication of climate change challenges and solutions for nonprofits, public agencies, advisory groups, and task forces in Southwest Florida. As Executive Directors of the Science and Environment Council, the Shafers lead the Climate Council of Sarasota-Manatee — a network of experts and practitioners working on climate change issues in the region.  Read more here.

Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Jon Thaxton is a fifth generation Floridian who believes  our quality of life depends upon conserving and protecting Florida’s natural spaces, wildlife habitats and waterways. He has spent his private and professional life committed to preserving our natural environment. Over the years he has participated in numerous important panel discussions on environmental and climate change issues, becoming a prominent voice on resilience strategies to protect our way of life. He was recognized by the Historical Society of Sarasota as a Hero of History for his conservation activism and community leadership protecting, preserving, and acquiring natural spaces and places. Read more here.

Bill Waddill, Bay Park Conservancy

With more than 36 years of experience as a certified planner and landscape architect, Bill Waddill has made a huge impact in caring for our environment, helping shape our future landscape here on the Suncoast. Currently he serves as COO of the Bay Park Conservancy. Over the years, Bill has managed the design, public engagement, and implementation process for both public and private projects including the Bradenton Riverwalk, Siesta Beach Park, Perry Harvey Park in Tampa, Babcock Ranch Town Center in Ft. Myers, and Baker Park in Naples. Read more here.

Roy Wysnewski, Author and Citizen Scientist

Roy is a member of our climate community, living for the past thirty years in Sarasota, Florida. Since 1999, he has been an amateur meteorologist monitoring the local weather and writing about weather and climate, while serving as a certified Skywarn Spotter for the Tampa Region of the National Weather Service. Roy’s passion and concern for the climate crisis have led him to author several books about weather and the changing climate. Check out and share his latest ebook, A Lesson in Climate Change, written specifically to help anyone – particularly young people – create a real-time visual assessment of climate change no matter where they live.

Please join us to honor all of our climate champions and to support the CAC at our inaugural Climate Champions Award celebration and fundraiser. Visit our Events page to find out how you can be a part of the celebration!


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