Each year at our annual meeting, FWF recognizes folks for their contributions to our conservation mission. It is their accomplishments that reflect who we are. As an organization, we are nourished by what these folks do. Their contributions reflect everything that is important to us. For many award winners, it is not a one time moment for them. Theirs is a commitment that continues to resonate throughout their lives.
Jim Stevenson and his wife, Tara Tanaka are great examples of a lifetime commitment to conservation. Tara is a naturalist photographer. On our visit to their home, we were treated both to a video display, as well as, a real-time introduction to their conservation life. The focal point of their home is the bald cypress swamp in their backyard that they acquired in 2007. This 45 acre swamp is managed by them to maximize it as a bird sanctuary. FWC estimated that there were 275 wood stork nests in 2016-2017, the largest rookery of its kind in the Tallahassee area. Wood ducks, black-bellied whistling ducks use the nest boxes. Tara treated us to a video of fledglings exiting from the boxes. Great egrets and anhingas also nest in the rookery. The resident alligators protect the rookery from raccoons. In 2015, Jim and Tara designated the 45 acres as a conservation easement to the Apalachee Land Conservancy.
To say that Jim continues to be busy since he received the FWF’s “First Springs Protection Award” in 2005 is an understatement. He continues to actively campaign for the protection of Florida’s springs. Take a minute to search the web about all the things Jim and Tara do. You will discover that Jim conducts tours for children, parents, college students, and even politicians of the Wakulla Spring Basin. He also conducts naturalist programs with one of the favorites titled “The Beautiful Life of a Dead Tree.” What many do not recognize is that dead trees are a vital part of a living forest. If that were not enough, Jim is working on the 3rd edition of his book no doubt with Tara’s encouragement, My Journey in Florida’s State Parks: A Naturalist’s Memoir. Tara has a lot of great videos and photos to enjoy on her web page.
Finally, Jim serves on the Board of Florida Springs Institute and the Wakulla Springs Alliance.