TALLAHASSEE — Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet honored Deborah Shelley, manager of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Wekiva River and Tomoka Marsh Aquatic Preserves, with the Resource Manager of the Year Award for her dedication to habitat restoration and stewardship of state lands.
Each year, natural resource managers from the DEP, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Florida Forest Service, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are selected for this award—one of Florida’s highest environmental honors.
“Deborah has been a staunch advocate for healthy ecosystems for more than three decades, creating a legacy of environmental stewardship at our aquatic preserves. I want to commend Deborah on her many years of hard work and dedication to protecting Florida’s environment,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Effective and committed land managers like Deborah are vital to the protection and preservation of our natural resources.”
The other award recipients were David Morse of Florida Forest Service; and Matthew Hortman of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Recipients are selected by a committee of environmental professionals representing the Sierra Club, Audubon Florida and The Nature Conservancy.
“Protecting and conserving Florida’s natural resources for future generations would not be possible without dedicated resource managers,” said Craig Diamond, chairman of the selection committee. “The committee is honored to select Deborah for this
well-deserved award to recognize her three decades of service to Florida’s ecosystems.”
Deborah Shelley began her career with the State of Florida as a biologist in 1985. In her position as manager of the Wekiva River and Tomoka Marsh Aquatic Preserves, she oversees two very distinct and diverse ecosystems, with both fresh and brackish water. She contributed to the Wekiva River’s designation as a federal Wild and Scenic River – one of only two in Florida – and has served on the Wekiva Basin Wild and Scenic River System Advisory Management Committee since its inception, chairing numerous subcommittees. She has encouraged and mentored countless volunteers, staff and colleagues. Deborah has announced her plans to retire in November of this year, but she will continue to nurture the aquatic preserves as a volunteer.
The Resource Manager of the Year Award was established by DEP in 1992 to recognize the employee who is judged to have made the most significant progress in the stewardship of state lands. It has since expanded to recognize one recipient from each of the three state agencies that manage Florida’s conservation land.
—Florida Department of Environmental Protection
For more articles out of Florida, click here.