Over 400 conservation groups, leaders, scientists, students and supporters attended the 39th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference, held Jan. 25-27 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort in Bonita Springs, Florida. The three-day conference is the largest forum for discussing the restoration of the Everglades, and featured several keynote speakers, educational sessions and awards.
Each year, the Everglades Coalition hosts its annual conference to educate attendees about the full restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. The 2024 conference, themed Everglades Restoration Rewards: Benefitting Ecosystems, Economies and Communities, featured panelists who highlighted topics including ecological health and economic success, environmental advocacy, art and culture concerning the Everglades, marine ecosystems and the future of Florida’s conservation.
Since 1995, the Everglades Coalition has presented awards at its annual conference to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to protect and restore the Everglades and mirror the ideals and accomplishments of the award namesake. Four honorees were recognized at the 2024 conference in the following categories:
The Conservationist Award was awarded to Marisa Carrozzo, the senior coastal and wildlife program manager of the National Parks Conservation Association. As senior coastal and wildlife program manager, she continues her work of protecting land and water in areas like the Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Prior to joining NPCA, Marisa was the Everglades and Water Policy Manager with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida where she led campaigns to improve and protect water quality in the Everglades and beyond. A treasured member of the Everglades community, Marisa also served as Everglades Coalition Co-Chair for four years.
Col. Charlette Roman, an at-large member of the South Florida Water Management District and chair of the Big Cypress Basin Board, received the Public Service Award. For over 20 years, Roman has worked to restore America’s Everglades, improve water quality, protect the region from flooding and ensure an adequate water supply for South Floridians.
Terrence “Rock” Salt entered the Hall of Fame for his work in the effort toward Congressional Authorization and funding for the Kissimmee River Restoration project and his help in setting the course for the start of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Salt is a current co-chair of the Conservation Committee and Board Member for Tropical Audubon Society.
The Voice of Conservation Award was granted to Mac Stone, a contributing photographer for National Geographic Magazine, a senior fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers and a National Geographic Society Explorer, to recognize his work elevating conservation issues through his photography and videography. Stone runs Naturaland Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to permanently protecting critical lands for the public.
In addition to honoring conservationists, the Everglades Coalition, in partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, selected 20 students to receive full scholarships to attend the conference, which included student mentorship opportunities and a chance to be featured on the Future Leaders panel. Each year, the Coalition also waives conference registration fees for all teachers and students interested in attending and a record number of students participated this year. The Everglades Coalition also announced Equity and Community Engagement speaker stipends to offset the costs of participation for speakers in need. By reducing barriers to entry, the Everglades Coalition hopes to increase access each year to the conference.
The 2024 conference concluded just before the Coalition plans to travel to Tallahassee for Everglades Action Day on Feb. 7, a day of action on behalf of America’s Everglades during the Florida Legislative session. From Feb. 6-7, the Everglades Coalition will be providing free transportation to Tallahassee and low-cost lodging for members/supporters. For more information, please visit www.evergladescoalition.org/evergladesactionday.
The 40th Annual Everglades Coalition will take place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, 2025, at the Miccosukee Resort and Casino in Miami. To learn more about the Everglades Coalition and the 2025 conference, visit EvergladesCoalition.org/Conference.
About the Everglades Coalition
The Everglades Coalition is an alliance of nearly 60 local, state and national conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to full restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes into Lake Okeechobee and to the estuaries, through the River of Grass, out to Florida Bay and the Keys. The Everglades Coalition strives to preserve and restore the diversity of ecosystems that comprise the greater Everglades and to provide a forum for those who depend on or care about those ecosystems. We are committed to being inclusive and fostering a collaborative environment where all stakeholders feel valued, respected and engaged — both in our work as an alliance of separate organizations and as a model for engagement by our member organizations. Learn more at EvergladesCoalition.org.