Implementing a “water ethic” for North Florida
Florida in general—the northern part of the state in particular— is in the midst of a fresh water crisis. Over-pumping of the Floridian Aquifer (the region’s water supply) along with three droughts in the past ten years have resulted in historically low water levels with huge impacts on Florida’s springs, rivers, and lakes. Jacqueline Sulek’s mission is to do something about it. Inspired by author Cynthia Barnett’s book, Blue Revolution Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, her aim is to help Floridians to articulate a “water ethic” that embraces and promotes sustainable use of and respect for this fragile resource.
As Audubon Florida’s Chapter Conservation Manager, she recently completed a project called “The WEB – Water, Energy and Birds – It’s All Connected.” The multimedia program (with more than 250 individuals participating) illustrated the connection between saving water and energy and saving habitat and birds. This experience fueled Jacqueline’s belief that before Floridians can change their consumption habits, they have to understand the issues involved.
For Jacqueline’s TogetherGreen fellowship project, she coordinated a multi-media event called, “Our Water, Our Future” to fund an outreach and education project that included an “Our Water, Our Future” event with famous Florida Springs photographer John Moran and local community leaders. Attendees included 3 County Commissioners, 50 middle school students and over 300 people some traveling several hours to attend. Of those who attended, approximately 50% had never attended any type of environmental program before.
Jacqueline engaged two smaller groups, with a purpose to define water ethic and a message to the larger population focusing on water conservation. Local members of several local churches focused on a frame for water ethic while the middle school students developed a message that would be delivered in the form of a bumper sticker.
Jacqueline commented on her experience with TogetherGreen, remarking, “I found the fellows program a life changing experience. It provided the vote of confidence for me to get out there a do something significant as a leader. As a result I have created valuable relationships that will keep me engaged in finding solutions for our communities.”