At the Florida Wildlife Federation’s 79th Annual Conservation Awards Banquet to be held June 25, 2016, at the Courtyard Marriott Riverfront Hotel in Bradenton, ten outstanding Florida conservationists will be recognized for their conservation achievements.  Conservation award winners are chosen from nominations made to the Federation’s board of directors based on their accomplishments on behalf of Florida’s fish, wildlife and native habitats.  Kaitlin Greenough will receive the Youth Conservationist of the Year Award for 2016.

As a Girl Scout, Kaitlin started volunteering at the Crystal Springs Preserve, a 525 acre piece of old Florida in Pasco County. This private preserve protects Crystal Springs, a 2nd magnitude spring that emits 30 million gallons of water daily. As a project, Kaitlin decided to share the importance of protecting our rare natural freshwater springs. She researched the science behind springs and the Floridan aquifer, becoming familiar with the critical need for water protection and conservation in a state that is underlain with karsts.

For her class presentation at Crystal Springs, Ms. Greenough toured students around the site and guided them through creating miniature watersheds, allowing them to see firsthand how pollutants can get into our drinking water and our natural ecosystems. She focused her teaching efforts on the need to prevent over-pumping and avoid pollution. Over the course of three years, Ms. Greenough spent over 130 hours informing students about the importance of a healthy environment and clean water with lessons appropriately geared towards children of varying ages. Students were also made aware of the wide variety of native flora and fauna that exist near the springs, including sandhill cranes, turtles, fishes and butterflies.

Due to her commitment to making the Zephyrhills region more sustainable, Kaitlin was presented with a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office and been granted Lifetime Membership in the Girl Scouts of America (GSA). Additionally, she has received the Gold Award from GSA, the highest award any scout can receive. It is presented to individual Girl Scouts in the 9th to 12th grade who demonstrate extraordinary leadership and community involvement.

For her work on behalf of our fragile environment, we are pleased to name Kaitlin Greenough as the Youth Conservationist of the Year for 2016.

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