Tallahassee Community has a Conversation About Conservation

Traci Deen

Casey Chapter, Deputy News Editor Published 11:50 a.m. ET Sept. 8, 2019

Traci Dean, Executive Director of Conservation Florida, discusses environmentalism with Tallahassee locals. (Photo: Casey Chapter/FSView)

On Thursday, Sep. 5, Conservation Florida gathered at Madison Social for their “Conservation on Tap.” The event gave community members, students and locals alike, the ability to discuss sustainability in a social environment while enjoying a drink.

“We’re looking to connect with tomorrow’s leaders,” said Traci Deen, Executive Director of Conservation Florida. “There’s no better place than on a college campus, and we love being surrounded by bright minds and people who are gonna work tomorrow to protect the Florida that we all love.”

Deen is also an FSU alumni, which contributed to the organization’s chosen venue. Madison Social proved to accomplish a social, relaxed ambiance, inviting both students and citizens to the discussion.

“We know that there’s really nothing like meeting like-minded people around a dining room table or with a beer and just being able to have a conversation with someone about conservation,” Deen said. “There’s really no better place than a relaxed atmosphere.”

Conservation Florida is a statewide organization dedicated to protecting Florida’s natural environments, whether protecting springs and landscapes or creating recreational opportunities through state parks. One recent project the group accomplished was an addition to Wakulla Springs State Park.

The issue of sustainability has also been a concern of Florida State University. Michelle Presley is the Communications Coordinator for Florida State’s Sustainable Campus initiative. She said Conservation on Tap gave people from diverse backgrounds more to think about in terms of sustainability.

“I think there’s just more voices surrounding this issue, which is great,” Presley said. “There’s a more diverse understanding of all the ways that sustainability impacts daily life, be it economically [or] environmentally. And in terms of quality of life, the way people are able to live, sustainability and the health of the environment touch all of those things, so there’s a greater understanding of how all of that plays in.”

The role of students was an important focus of Conservation Florida, but the event brought together many people who can contribute to sustainable living.

“I think this event is really cool because it can connect those diverse viewpoints,” Presley said. “So there’s scientists, there’s communication professionals, and people from all different walks and careers and focuses that have all converged on the idea that the environment is worth protecting.”

Sustainable Campus at FSU has made varying contributions to the discussion about sustainability. Most notable is their Chuck it for Charity event, which allows students to donate items and clothing they no longer need. The donations go to local tenders and nonprofits, reducing waste and providing necessities to community members who may need them.

Members of Conservation Florida hope that their goals are shared with more community members as they progress. Deen said the organization’s most recent focus has been on northwest Florida and they hope their efforts will resonate with an audience of young people.

“If you boil it down, it comes down to the food that we eat, the water that we drink and the nature that thrives,” said Cyndi Fernandez, Assistant Director of Conservation Florida. “[Protecting] wildlife, plants, humans connecting with that nature, and then supporting Florida’s economic engine through our fantastic natural landscapes.”