OSPREY, FL (October 17, 2018) Conservation Foundation announced its highest honor, Conservation Partner of the Year, naming Gary Hebert, Brenda Russell and Phil St. John, the founders of Friends of Keep Woods. This award signifies exemplary efforts for conservation. Conservation Foundation also honored Jan Dorsett as Volunteer of the Year, at the Annual Conservation Reception at Bay Preserve.
“Our Conservation Partner of the Year is a group of individuals with great passion, dedication, and tireless persistence. They are the ones who had a big idea to save 33 acres from imminent development. And they created a grassroots group to do it,” stated Mike Knupp, Conservation Foundation board chair. “They are the face of community conservation.”
The Friends of Keep Woods trio asked Conservation Foundation to partner, and rallied their volunteers to raise awareness and funds. Volunteers, donors, private foundations and the Manatee County Board of Commissioners worked together to find a way to purchase the land. Starting with The Manatee Fish & Game Association’s lead gift and the Floyd C. Johnson & Flo Singer Johnson Foundation’s challenge grant of $500,000, Conservation Foundation raised more than $1.29 million from the community in 10 days toward the $3 million purchase. Manatee County agreed to fund the balance.
The added donation of 11.6 acres bequeathed to Conservation Foundation by the estate of Carlton Bergstresser, resulted in the permanent protection of 44.5 acres on the Braden River in Manatee County, named the Floyd C. Johnson & Flo Singer Johnson Preserve at Braden River.
Volunteer of the Year Jan Dorsett was recognized for her substantial volunteer efforts including her integral role in keeping Conservation Foundation’s database accurate, assisting with events and even helping with plantings at Bay Preserve.
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast saves land, forever, protecting those special natural lands that make this region extraordinary. Working with landowners, businesses, and government, Conservation Foundation protects the character and natural integrity of the bays, beaches, barrier islands and their watersheds on Florida’s Gulf Coast. A nationally accredited land trust, the Foundation purchases natural areas, holds land conservation agreements and educates for responsible land and water stewardship in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier Counties. Learn more at www.conservationfoundation.com.