Alachua Conservation Trust hosted the 20th Annual Conservation Stewards Awards this month at Prairie Creek Lodge. Since 2000, Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) honors “Conservation Stewards,” the individuals in our community who have made the cultural and environmental protection of North Central Florida a priority in their lives.
This year’s Honorees were John McPherson and Lu Anne Wilson. John grew up in Venice, Florida where he witnessed explosive development and growth in his sleepy coastal village. His most significant accomplishment was also the easiest: the creation of Alachua Conservation Trust. With the filing of a little paperwork, he felt that he could now participate in an environmental organization that made concrete steps toward progress. John said he is forever grateful for the many talented, energetic people at ACT that took his first step and turned it into a fantastic success.
The second honoree was Lu Anne Wilson, a lifelong resident of Florida. Over the years, she’s hoped that her descendants can share the same memories with her through canoeing, hiking, and camping in the same Orlando area she grew up in. She then began her 27-year career in conservation with ACT first as staff attorney, and then later as Executive Director. While at ACT, Lu Anne added public lands to Paynes Prairie, Watermelon Pond, San Felasco Hammock, Newnans Lake, the Suwannee River Corridor, and the Hogtown Creek Greenway. She also spent 21 years acquiring conservation lands for various conservation projects, worked with farmers and ranchers to bring their conservation goals to fruition, and oversaw the St. Johns River Water Management District’s 125,000- acre conservation easement program.
The Conservation Stewards Awards are focused on celebrating ACT’s 30 years of being “Connected Across Landscapes.” Since 1998, Alachua Conservation Trust has helped preserve more than 53,000 acres of land in 16 counties throughout north central Florida, directly participating in the purchase of 19,700 of those acres, and opening up public preserves for communities.
Since 1988, The mission of Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) is to protect the natural, historic, scenic and recreational resources in and around Alachua County. ACT protects land through purchase, donation, and conservation easements in 16 counties in north central Florida.