Evening Programs

Karen Alhers

Karen Ahlers is a grassroots environmental activist known for her tenacious defense of Florida waters. She has worked independently for the past two years to protect Silver Springs and the Ocklawaha River from feared devastation the Adena Springs Ranch may bring. Karen served nine years as president of the Putnam County Environmental Council and now, in addition to her work as an independent citizen activist, serves as Executive Director for Florida Defenders of the Environment. She is the recipient of several awards including Florida Wildlife Federation's Conservationist of the Year, Florida Sierra Club's Oak Leaf Award, Florida Defenders' Outstanding Defender of the Ocklawaha River and, most recently, the University of Florida Levin School of Law's annual Public Interest Environmental Award. She also served as a delegate to the Florida Water Congress in 2008.

Doug Alderson

Doug Alderson is currently the assistant bureau chief for Florida's Office of Greenways and Trails. In 2007, he finished a three-year project scouting the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, a 1,500-plus mile sea kayaking trail around the entire state. He has authored several books, including Wild Florida Waters, Simon's Wondrous Garden and Other Stories, The Great Florida Seminole Trail, Waters Less Traveled: Exploring Florida's Big Bend Coast, New Dawn for the Kissimmee River: Orlando to Okeechobee by Kayak, Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife. Additionally, his articles and photographs have been featured in magazines such as Sea Kayaker, Coast and Kayak, Wildlife Conservation, American Forests, Sierra, and Mother Earth News. He has won several state and national awards for his books and magazine features.

Daniel Alvarez

Daniel Alvarez After graduating from the University of Florida, Daniel Alvarez stepped on the Appalachian Trail and wound up walking from Georgia to Maine. He then skipped out of the last semester of Yale Law School to start the Pacific Crest Trail, hiked 200 miles, flew back for exams, then continued north until he hit Canada. After a stint as a lawyer, he grabbed his backpack again and hiked the Continental Divide and Hayduke Trails, then got the idea to kayak 4,000 miles from the northern tip of Minnesota to Key West. When he got to the end, he had no idea what to do next so he decided to paddle back. He still has no idea what he will do next, but is pretty sure it won't be working for a corporate law firm. Stories, photos, and videos of his adventures can be found at www.predictablylost.com

Lars Andersen

Lars Andersen, outfitter and paddling guide from High Springs, presents us with a pictorial preview of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Lars leads most of the tours provided by Adventure Outpost, a North Florida outfitter. He is author of the North Florida Adventure, an educational audio cassette, self-guided tour of north Florida, and Paynes Prairie: A history of the Great Savanna. His Paddlers Guide to the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail compiles a lifetime of experiences and understanding of the area's cultural and natural history.

Katherine Archer

Katherine Archer visited Florida in 2002 and never left. In her own words, "I have and ongoing love affair with Wild Florida." A manatee fanatic long before she ever met one, Katherine wrote her first mandolin tune "Manatee Waltz" after her first encounters with the graceful water muse in Titusville. Katherine is a dynamic live performer, creating an intimate and powerful bond with her audience. With her trademark wry between-song humor, she weaves a musical journey through love, laughter, and tears. She is active in conservation efforts and performs regularly in St. Augustine and all over Florida.

Cynthia Barnett

Cynthia Barnettis an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water and climate change around the world. Her latest book is Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the 2016 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Barnett is also the author of Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis, which articulates a water ethic for America. Blue Revolution was named by The Boston Globe as one of the top 10 science books of 2011. Her first book, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S., won the gold medal for best nonfiction in the Florida Book Awards and was named by The St. Petersburg Times as one of the top 10 books that every Floridian should read. Barnett has written for National Geographic magazine, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Discover magazine, Salon, Politico, Orion, Ensia and many other publications.

Big Cypress Bluegrass

Big Cypress Bluegrass is a traditional bluegrass band that began in 2006 with four members: Randy Slaughter on guitar and vocals, Kim Hiersoux on mandolin and vocals, Alan Everett on banjo, and Eric Daniels on bass. In 2007, Randy Lewis joined the group on mandolin and vocals. Big Cypress has played in the tri-county area of Dixie, Levy and Gilchrist Counties, Florida since 2005. They provide their own special sound of bluegrass to area events, schools, and local charities. They have been invited to play the past two years at the Perry Bluegrass Festival in Perry, Florida.

Darryl Boudreau

Darryl Boudreau joined The Nature Conservancy in December 2012 and is currently the Watershed Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy in Florida. In this role, Darryl leverages over 27 years of experience and relationships working with all levels of government and other environmental, economic, education and citizen stakeholders to develop strategies to maximize the impact of Deepwater Horizon related funding investments using a watershed approach. Much of his work has been focused on creating Estuary Programs in the Panhandle and facilitating coordination between local, state and federal agencies.

In addition to Darryl’s work on Deepwater Horizon restoration, Darryl also represents the Conservancy on several key regional and national groups including the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA), the National Association of Counties (NACO) and serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Local Environmental Resource Agencies (FLERA) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture (EGCPJV).

Previously, Darryl held the role of Assistant Director of the FL DEP’s Northwest District for seven years where he managed the District’s Ecosystem Restoration Section and Ombudsman functions and was the point person for resolving the District’s high priority issues. During the last year and a half at DEP Darryl lived in New Orleans, where he served as Florida’s State On Scene Coordinator (SOSC) on the Deepwater Horizon’s Unified Command.

Darryl is passionate about helping to improve the quality of life in Florida’s Panhandle where he has lived for over 45 years and is blessed to have four generations of family members currently living and enjoying the diverse opportunities it provides.

Sheena Brook

Sheena Brook is a singer songwriter with the ability to draw in her audience with her captivating voice and charisma. She has played all over southwest Florida with her unique mix of genres and styles. She has opened for artists like Gloriana, Josh Turner, and Kristian Bush with her original music.

Bill & Mary Burnham

Call them crazy, but Bill and Mary Burnham always thought work should be fun. For 15 years, these guide-book authors and kayak guides have combined the things they love — writing, hiking, paddling, and photography. Authors of Florida Keys Paddling Atlas and Knack Kayaking for Everyone, these American Canoe Association (ACA) instructors operate a kayak shop on Virginia's eastern shore in the summer and run Florida Keys trips in the winter, ranging from easy overnights to the annual 10-day Key Largo to Key West bucket-list trip of a lifetime.

Brett Cyphers

Brett Cyphers serves as the Northwest Florida Water Management District's Executive Director.

Cyphers spent two years (2012-2014) as the District's Assistant Executive Director. In that role, he spearheaded budget and operational reform efforts focused on dedicating more taxpayer funds to projects with the most direct benefit to the natural resources and communities of northwest Florida.

Prior to his appointment at the District, Cyphers oversaw water management district budget development at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. He has also served Floridians by working on water and environmental policy issues in the Governor's Office, Florida Senate and House of Representatives, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Cyphers is a veteran of the United States Army and Florida National Guard and holds a degree from Florida State University. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife and three daughters.

Matthew Dunn

Matthew Dunn is Executive Director for Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches, the tourism information source for visitors to and the citizens of Flagler County, Florida. As the County's official destination marketing organization, the mission of PCFB is to contribute to the economic well-being of Flagler County and its citizens through the solicitation and servicing of group-related business, to promote the County as a first-class visitor destination, and to enhance Flagler County's brand and reputation. Matthew's past and present list of clients includes the PGA TOUR, ESPN, USA Crits, the Sports Management Research Institute, Team Florida Lacrosse, Reebok Spartan Race, Bassmaster, Florida Youth Soccer Association, UANA Pan American Masters Championships, and the Florida Bicycle Racing Association.

Rianna Elliott

A native to Suwannee County, Rianna’s family has called this area home since Florida was a territory. In part because of this, she greatly enjoys sharing her ample knowledge of local history with others. Whether giving talks to community groups, or giving guided walks through the park, she feels it is these personal connections that keeps the stories of the past alive for the next generation.

Initially working in the world of business and accounting, Rianna joined the Florida Park Service in 2009 as an administrative assistant. Soon afterwards, she was offered the chance to become a park ranger, an opportunity she says she jumped on immediately. She has worked as a ranger and then a park services specialist for 9 years, all at Suwannee River State Park. “I love my park because it is home. I know the history of the area like the back of my hand and interpreting to visitors comes naturally to me. The stories of the community are not simply read from a book but from personal experience. The park service was an unknown to me. I found it by accident but like so many things in life it is those chance encounters that change you forever.

Managing the natural resources is another passion Rianna has in her work for the Florida Park Service. Prescribed fire is an important tool that Florida state parks use in restoring and maintaining the Longleaf Pine habitat found in Suwannee River State Park. Along the main park drive you can see a flourishing sandhill habitat alive with gopher tortoises and wiregrass that thrive from a healthy fire cycle. The Sandhill Trail that weaves through this forest is Rianna’s favorite place to visit in the park. “Listening to the breeze whisper through the pines on a crisp fall day can bring peace and joy to anyone’s soul” says Rianna, and she is happy to be here to hear it.

Sarah Everhart

Sarah Everhart is an Outdoor Recreation Instructor for the US Navy at Naval Air Station Pensacola (NASP). She primarily instructs sailing, backpacking, kayaking and paddle boarding at the NASP Morale Welfare and Recreation Area at Blue Angel Park, located on the beautiful Perdido Bay. Originally from Jupiter, Florida I came to Pensacola in 2005 to attend the University of West Florida. Upon graduation, I fell in love with the outdoors while spending a year on the road volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and visiting as many National Parks all over the United States as possible. Upon my return to Pensacola, I served as an AmeriCorps service member and then as an EMT until I landed a dream job working for the Department of Defense as a recreation instructor. One of my favorite things to do is teach people new outdoor skills while simultaneously introducing them to responsible and thoughtful ways to enjoy and respect our environment. In addition to the work I do for the Navy, I'm a proud board member of Sunday's Child, a local LGBT advocacy non-profit, a volunteer with the City of Pensacola Dept. of Parks and Rec, a certified Wilderness First Responder and a current student in the Florida Master Naturalist program. When I am not playing at work, I spend my free time surfing, birding, hammocking, reading and I also have a love-hate relationship with many various home renovation projects. See y'all out there!

Bing Futch

Bing Futch has been playing Appalachian mountain dulcimer since 1986 and is one of the most high-profile performers of this uniquely American instrument today. He was a founding member of techno-punk trio Crazed Bunnyz, which enjoyed moderate success in the underground music scene with college radio and international airplay in the mid to late 80's. In 1999, he founded Americana band Mohave, a free-wheeling, good-timing collective of musicians that has performed at numerous festivals and county fairs, played to audiences at venues such as Hard Rock Live Orlando and the House Of Blues at Walt Disney World, and opened for national acts Molly Hatchett, Subject to Change, St. Somewhere, Wrong and The Crests, all while keeping the dulcimer front and center. Over the years, Futch has also worked steadily as a composer of music for film, television, theater, commercials, and themed attractions.

Willie Green

Willie Green is a Delta style bluesman. Born in Montgomery, Alabama in the early 1930s, he worked many years with a rural share crop family. Green learned the blues early on in his teens when he would hitch hike or hop a freight train to town to hear the old blues masters in the juke joints. He is self taught on both harmonica and guitar. Green has opened shows for John Hammond, Jr. (who calls him "the real deal"), Tommy Castro, Charlie Musselwhite, Maria Muldaur, John Lee Hooker, Jr., James Cotten, Eddie Kirkland, Joey Gillmore, JJ Grey (MOFRO), and many others including an outdoor opener at Veterans Coloseum for Eric Clapton. He now resides in Ocala, Florida and plays regularly at the Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek.

Frank Gromling

Frank Gromling is an author, publisher, adventurer, conservationist, and entrepreneur. His active life has taken him to five continents. Obtaining his first boat at age ten, he has spent all but six years living, working and relaxing on or near oceans. Since 2000, Frank has been part of a unique research project with North Atlantic right whales. As project assistant, he organized and trained survey teams, established research protocols, supervised hundreds of volunteers, worked offshore on research vessels in US and Canadian waters, documented whale sightings, videotaped whale activity, and assisted with underwater whale vocalization recordings. He has conducted research on land, from boats, and in aircraft.

Magda Hiller

Magda Hiller's career as a musically diverse, intelligent performing songwriter has had her sharing the stage with Vangelis at London's Royal Alber Hall, & folk legend Odetta at the Ottawa Folk Festival. She's opened for or performed with acts as diverse as Bob Dylan, Chick Corea, Huey Lewis & The News, Dan Fogelberg, Al Dimeola, Richie Havens and Steve Forbert. Hiller has won "Best Acoustic Performer" and/or "Solo Act" awards for years from multiple Florida news publications. Hiller's music draws from fingerstyle guitar to jazz, blues, and country Americana, with rich earthy vocals.

Scott Jantz

Scott Jantz grew up sailing and canoeing the Great Lakes and rivers around Buffalo, NY. After a move to Jacksonville, FL, he became an avid sailboarder along the First Coast. High school and college years introduced him to scuba diving all around Florida and, later, kayaking our state's waterways. After many years of exploring Florida's springs around his North Central Florida home in Gainesville, he took the next step of entering the caves. Earning cave diver certification in 2009, Scott now has a couple hundred cave dives under his belt. He is drawn to exploring the inner beauty of our springs and their connection to Florida's fragile drinking water system.

Matt Keene

Matt Keene is an award-winning journalist and record-setting paddler based in St. Augustine, Florida. His writing, videography, and photography focus on environmental and social issues, particularly those affecting his home state of Florida. He has spent more than 13 months in a tent on various long-distance adventures, writing and raising awareness on wild areas, recreational opportunities and water and land conservation. Keene has hiked more than 3,500 miles, paddled more than 2,000, and holds the world record for being the first person to complete Florida's 1,515-mile-long Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.

Kentucky Sleepy Hollow

Originally formed in the 1960's, Kentucky Sleepy Hollow is a family band at heart - at one time including 3 generations of the Oney family! They have been all over the country providing phenomenal bluegrass, gospel, and folk music to a multitude of fine people throughout the years. They perform many original songs in addition to their beautiful renditions of the classics, and have released several albums through the years. As the name denotes, they hail from Kentucky but have made north Florida their home for a number of years now. Their passion and love of writing and performing is the common thread that led this musical family to create their lovely sounds for so long, and they will continue to do so for ages to come. Currently, Kentucky Sleepy Hollow Band includes Bleau Oney providing lead vocals/lead guitar, Lugie Oney heading the mandolin/supporting vocals, and Arnold Messer as the resident banjo picker.

Robert Knight

Robert L. Knight, Ph.D. is an environmental scientist with more than 35 years of professional experience in Florida. He is the founder and director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, a nonprofit program dedicated to supporting science and education necessary for restoration and wise management of Florida's artesian springs. Dr. Knight is an adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences at the University of Florida, where he teaches a graduate-level course on the ecology of springs. Dr. Knight is also currently active on restoration efforts for the Santa Fe River springs, Crystal River springs, Ichetucknee Springs, and Silver Springs, and is on the Board of Directors for both the Silver River Alliance and the Wakulla Springs Alliance, two citizen advocacy organizations.

Frank Lindamood

Frank Lindamood is the poster child for crafting authentic and traditional sound into new and original song. A resident of the flat woods of Sopchoppy, Florida, Lindamood is a life-long student of the likes of Leadbelly, Blind Lemon, and Jimmy Rogers. His songs ring with voices and voicings from the past. He's a bare-knuckled guitar player, a master of early 20th century banjo style, and a lucid but gritty bender of notes on his metal bodied resonator. His 2011 Gatorbone Records release, "Hewn From The Rock," is a solo masterpiece of original songs, whose no-overdubbing, no-pitch correcting, one-take production style salutes and honors the masters Lindamood has studied.

Annette Long

Annette Long moved from the Orlando area to Chiefland, Florida because she and her husband Mark spent so much time on the Suwannee River and in its springs. She's been a cave diver since 1989 and has watched the springs and rivers in North Central Florida change significantly over the last two decades. She became a serious environmental activist when she "discovered that it was not against the rules for a business or farm to completely wreck a first magnitude spring – even one that is the center piece of a Florida State Park." Annette got involved with Save Our Suwannee over 12 years ago and has served as its president on and off for about five years. She combines her love of boating, paddling, diving, photography, and science with a desire to change a system that won't move forward to protect our precious springs, lakes, rivers and estuaries.

Heather Lopez

  • 2007 graduate of FSU-PC - B.S. in Professional Communications
  • 2015 graduate of Southeast Tourism Society’s Marketing College earning double certification as a Tourism Marketing Professional and Festival & Event Planner
  • Has been with the Washington County Tourist Development Council for almost 11 years, almost 7 of which she has served as the Director
  • Served on the Cultural, Heritage, Rural & Nature committee for Visit Florida from 2011-2016
  • Has served on her area Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Board since May 2016
  • Has served in multiple officer positions on the Board of Explore Northwest Florida since 2010 including Treasurer, Vice President & President

Washington County is rich in natural resources that Heather Lopez has actively promoted throughout her 11-year career in tourism. She has worked with local groups such as the Florida Scenic Trail Association, Paddle Florida, Panhandle Wildflower Alliance, Florida Geocaching Association, her local state park and state forest and others to showcase the history and beauty of the area. Lopez also works with area farmers to cultivate and promote its growing agritourism industry, including working with neighboring Jackson County to provide educational workshops. Lopez is a 2007 graduate of FSU Panama City and 2015 graduate of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Marketing College and has served on several boards and committees during her career including the Cultural, Heritage, Rural & Nature committee for Visit Florida, the Chipley CRA and Explore Northwest Florida.

Annabelle Lyn

The Adventures of Annabelle Lyn is a talented trio of swooning, crooning ladies from Tallahassee, FL. Kathryn Belle Long, Elizabeth Fravel and Holly Riley are multi-instrumentalists who have been playing, singing, writing and performing for the vast majority of their lives. Brought together by their common love of acoustic music, they have been entertaining audiences around the Southeast for years at venues such as: Spirit of the Suwannee, Florida Folk Fest, City of Tallahassee events, theatres, weddings, restaurants, listening rooms and parties. Many of their shows are themed with different adventure ideas including: The Wizard of Oz, The Siren Song, The Old Time Train Heist, American Woman, Taking It To The Street, Saving the Farm and A Walk on the Wild Side. Their shows are packed with heartfelt original songs, traditional tunes and crowd-pleasing covers sure to reach the ears, hearts and souls of listeners. The Adventures of Annabelle Lyn is currently working with Log Cabin Studios as they record their first studio album to be released Spring 2016.

Rod MacDonald

Rod MacDonald has performed publicly for more than 40 years, and released 14 albums in the U.S. and Europe. He is considered a folk singer although his music transcends the typical folk genre, straying into rock, pop, country, light jazz, and blues. Regarded as a prolific songwriter and a gifted singer, MacDonald's music embraces his obvious passion and personal commitment to communicating political and social events that effect and shape our world's societies. Since 2006, he has also served as an instructor for Florida Atlantic University's Lifelong Learning Center, conducting a lecture and performance series.

Mary Mangiapia

To celebrate earning a Master's degree in biology, Mary Mangiapia began a kayak expedition around the state of Florida. Over 1,500 miles later, Mangiapia became the first woman thru-paddler and the 14th person overall to complete the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. The Florida native and veteran of several Watertribe races, including the 62-mile Ultra Marathon and the 300-mile Everglades Challenge, has been paddling since the age of nine. She has plans for future kayaking trips and hopes to inspire others to go on their own adventures.

Whitey Markle

Whitey Markle has been a fixture on the Florida music scene for over 30 years. His style of music, known as "Swampgrass," is a mixture of bluegrass, folk and country with a taste of old fashioned Florida Cracker thrown in for good measure. Whitey Markle and the Swamprooters have released two CD's, Cracker Blue and Hog Wild. Whitey has also written a book about his experiences in Florida called Whitey Markle's Recipes with Tales and Tunes.

Dr. Erich Marzolf

Dr. Marzolf joined the Suwannee River Water Management District in October 2012 as the Director of the Water Resources Division, where he oversees hydrologic, water quality, biological data collection and management, and GIS programs. Prior to joining the Suwannee District, he was a limnologist at the St. Johns River Water Management District for 18 years, working on lake, river, wetland, and spring restoration projects.

Robert Mattson

Rob is a Senior Environmental Scientist and has been employed at the St. Johns River Water Management District for ten years, after serving 17 years with the Suwannee River Water Management District. He leads the Biology Work Group in the Springs Protection Initiative Science program. Rob earned a Bachelor's degree in biology and a Master's degree in zoology from the University of South Florida. He is also an adjunct instructor in Environmental Science at St. Johns River State College. On his own time, he has become a serious student of naval history of the American Civil War and has authored and published a book on the Civil War Navy in Florida.

Rich Mistretta

Rich Mistretta is a well known and respected fixture in the Polk County music scene for over 30 years. Having played with blues, country, rock, top-40 new wave, disco, and acoustic bands through the decades, his solo acoustic performances blends a bit of all the above with pub-like presence and enthusiasm. Musical influences from David Gilmore, the Beatles, and Eric Clapton are evident in his style. Being a founding member and lead guitarist of the popular Sofa Kings band keeps Rich's music calendar rather full, however he eagerly makes room for solo performances, as he finds the one-on-one interaction of solo work is a much greater thrill for him.

Lucky Mud

From yodeling to rhythmic drumbeats, from soft, sweet harmonies to rootsy, wicked, belt-it-out swamp sounds, Lucky Mud makes "Mud Music!" Their latest release is PRIDE, and their music has taken them from yearly tours of Ireland and the British Isles, from Nova Scotia to Texas, and the main stages of the Florida Folk and Will McLean Festivals.

Al Mouledous

Al was born in New Orleans and started playing piano at age 8, then switched to violin at age 10. He received classical violin training from a member of the Dallas Symphony's 1st violinists, for 8 years. Having been a violinist in all his school's orchestras including the Dallas's "DalHi" honors city orchestra, and "MENTA" national honors winning orchestra from Bryan Adams High school in 1970, and the "Irving Civic Symphony" in 1973. Having joined the U.S.Navy as a Missile FireControl Technician, was asked to be a member of the U.S.Navy Seventh Fleet Navy Band, onboard his 1st ship, the U.S.S. Oklahoma City (CG-5), performing all over the west pacific area for 3.5 years, including the Sydney Opera House. Having returned stateside for duty on his 2nd ship, U.S.S. Norton Sound, Aegis Missile System test development ship, began playing bluegrass, country, cajun, and jazz in southern california, by age 20. Since 1981, Al has been in demand locally and regionally, from the DFW metroplex area, for his fiddle, bass, and tenor guitar talents, including having appeared on the Grand Ole Opry 5 times. Having a great "ear", Al is also an excellent sound man and has run sound for many top country artists. Currently, Al has been busy performing in various genre bands and is a sought after "Computer Geek".

Lisa Rinaman

As the St. Johns Riverkeeper, Lisa Rinaman serves as the chief advocate and public's voice for the St. Johns River.

Her responsibilities include holding regulatory agencies and those polluting the river accountable; identifying and advocating for solutions that will protect and restore the river; working with government entities, businesses, community leaders and citizens to resolve problems that impact the river’s health; and communicating with the media and the public to educate and raise awareness about important river-related issues.

Rinaman was instrumental in the creation of Waterkeepers Florida, a formal collaboration of Waterkeeper Alliance programs united across the state. She is also one of the founders of the Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition working to reunite Silver Springs, the Ocklawaha and the St. Johns Rivers as the Great Florida Riverway.

Dennis Parson

Dennis Parson has served in the Florida Park Service since 2008 starting his career as a Park Ranger at Tomoka State Park then on to Wekiwa Springs State Park and Ravine Gardens State Park. He then promoted to Park Services Specialist at Dunns Creek State Park and later to Assistant Park Manager at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park. He currently serves as Park Manager at Lafayette Blue Springs State Park, Troy Spring State Park, Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park, Forest Capital Museum State Park, and The Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.

Dennis is well rounded in Administration, Maintenance, Protection, Resource Management, and Visitor Services. He has truly enjoyed the past 11 years and is passionate about upholding the Florida Park Service Mission, which is to provide resource-based recreation, while preserving, interpreting and restoring our natural and cultural resources.


Patchwork is five women who like to play everything from original Florida folk, country, and bluegrass to forties swing and rhythm & blues, all on acoustic instruments. Featuring award-winning banjoist and fiddler Tammy Murray, the band hails from Gainesville, Florida, and performs at concerts, festivals, schools, clubs and parties throughout the state. They've even been known to call a square dance or two. They are a favorite at the Florida Folk Festival, where they have graced the main stage for over ten years. With the extraordinary harmonies and sisterly rapport that can only come from years of singing together, Patchwork's performances are a delight to see and hear. They bring a spirit of camaraderie and fun to all their appearances, along with the professional ease of fifteen years of playing together. For music that makes people feel like kickin' up their heels while managing to impart a little bit of history and education at the same time, Patchwork is an unbeatable combination.

Grant Peeples

Grant Peeples "I'm a vegetarian that watches NASCAR, a tree-hugger that keeps a gun under the car seat." So goes the introspection of Grant Peeples. This finger-in-your-eye styled songwriter, seventh generation Floridian and former ex-patriot, began his improbable touring career ("from Hell's Angels biker bars to Unitarian Churches") on his 50th birthday. "It's never too late to change your major," he says. His latest release, Punishing the Myth, produced by the legendary Gurf Morlix, has garnered critical acclaim and top rankings on the Folk, Roots and Americana radio charts. John Conquest, of Third Coast Music Magazine says "Grant Peeples is the only songwriter I have ever called 'ruthless.'"

Bill & Eli Perras

Bill and Eli Perras are performers of original, inspired, acoustic folk and blues from Deland, Florida. The many inspired lyrics interpreted by Eli, combined with Bill's bluesy finger-style guitar playing create a very uniquely modern take on true Americana music in its purest form. Receiving much recognition for their tightly woven musical creativity, and having shared the stage with many nationally recognized entertainers, they humbly remain true to their personal values. They speak out with strong heartfelt lyrics accompanied by soulful genuine pentatonic rhythms against social injustices, corporate greed, and daily follies in everyday life. They can grip your heart, search your soul, change a mindset, or softly strike a funny bone, all the while leaving the audience with a sentiment for the common good we desire in all mankind. Bill & Eli are regulars at the many Florida folk music venues and festivals and frequently travel the country sharing their music beyond the Sunshine State.

Greg Pflug

Greg Pflug has dedicated his life to the constant pursuit of outdoor adventures. He began this pursuit by thru-hiking the Appalachian trail, the Florida trail, and taking a summer to backpack 1900 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Shortly afterwards he discovered paddling. Greg has led hundreds of week-long paddling adventures from Alaska to New Zealand. He has worked as an outings leader for the National Sierra Club, Outward Bound, Into the Outdoors, and The State of Florida. Greg Currently owns and leads tours for Adventures in Florida and the Florida Canoe/Kayak Meet Up. He is also an elected board member on the Seminole County Tourism Development Committee. Greg spends an average of 30 weeks per year in the seat of a kayak.

Stephen Robitaille

Stephen Robitaille is President of the Board of Florida Defenders of the Environment. He has worked with FDE in various capacities dating back to 1981 when he produced the PBS documentary, Seven Ways to Kill the Suwannee, after being inspired by a talk given by Helen Hood, who headed FDE's Suwannee River Coalition. He later produced Archie Carr: In Praise of Wild Florida (1987, also in conjunction with FDE. Robitaille is an Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker and a full-time member of the English faculty at Santa Fe Community College, where he also teaches courses on media studies.

Tom Shed

Tom Shed presents "history, humor and the human condition" in an exciting evening of music. The Florida native, singer, and songwriter has written and played music for over 35 years. Shed performs at concerts and folk festivals across the US, including the Florida Folk Festival, Will McLean Festival, Gamble Rogers Festival, and Ravine Gardens Festival. Performing on guitar and banjo throughout the US, Canada, the Caribbean, New Zealand and Australia for many years gives him his unique perspective of life, love and truth. Shed has written and performed sound tracks for several films for television including Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and the award winning Archie Carr: A Naturalist in Florida. He sings humorous songs about alien abduction, experiencing unique southern hospitality while traveling, motor home mayhem on Florida's highways, and learning to appreciate your grandmother. Shed's music looks at questions facing all of us as we go through life: a questionnaire for marriage, the many faces of fear, dreaming of lost opportunities, and love at first sight.

Tessa Skiles

Tessa has spent her entire life around the springs and is driven by a strong passion to preserve and protect them so that future generations can enjoy them as much as she does. Tessa has a degree in Drafting and Design Technologies and a background in GIS mapping, marketing, event coordination, film, and photography. On her free time, she enjoys free-diving and nature photography. Both work and hobbies often take her to springs all over Florida, but she also enjoys traveling to discover new places and photographing all of nature's wonders, above and below water.

Sarah Mac Band

Ryan Smart is the executive Director of the Florida Springs Council and president of Three Rivers Trust. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public policy. He was named Young Floridian of the Year in 2017 by the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center.

Ryan Smart

Sarah Mac Band Claire, Charlie, and Sarah Mac joined together in early 2005 aspiring to create original music that blended the unique styles that each brought to the group. The Sarah Mac Band offers an engaging combination of blues, jazz, and acoustic rock that has been classified as both Americana and Alternative. The band simply describes the sound as "jazzy, bluesy rock with a healthy dose of soul."

Mark Smith

For 17 years, Mark Smith has made Florida resonate in new ways for longtime residents and visitors alike. While his musical style reflects influences from country, rock, blues, and even pop, it's his lyrics that bring people closer to the mystical and complex place called Florida, and in doing so, closer to themselves. A regular at Florida's major folk festivals, Smith has enjoyed significant commercial and public radio airplay and has shared the stage with prominent regional and national artists.

Ray Smith

Born and raised in N.W. Florida in the Perdido Key area, is a local musician and the "Purveyor of Smiles", since 1975. He has performed in the past with many bands for many years at the famous "Florabama" club on the beach at the Florida/Alabama stateline. Currently he is a member of the iconic "Bubba and Them" bluegrass band, performing on the weekends at "The Original Point Restaraunt" , located near the Big Lagoon State Park, in Perdido key area.

Kathy Stark

A Jacksonville native and resident, Kathy Stark specializes in watercolor and oil painting. Her favorite subject matter is her natural Florida surroundings which she explores by hiking, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking and dog walking. She recently completed a series of large even monumental watercolors of her area's amazing wild park system for her book and traveling exhibit titled The Wilderness of North Florida's Parks. A unique blend of art and education, the family friendly book and exhibit serves as a tribute and guide to the great unspoiled stretches of the North Florida region.

Raiford Starke

Colin Kenny is proud of his real name, but got stuck with the gallows humor of "Raiford Starke" long ago, branded by prison walls without ever having walked through their gates. At the turn of the century, Colin Kenny cut his first solo album as Raiford Starke, recorded in the Big Cypress swamp He's been selling Speak Me at his shows ever since, pressing a hundred at a time and moving thousands over the years with "Girl From Immokolee" becoming an underground country hit and veritable anthem of the region, so much so that in 2013 Raiford Starke has made a new video for the song and revived Big Cypress Records to finally release it online. Right now Raiford Starke is playing at some glitzy tribal casino or Joanie's Blue Crab shack in Ochopee. He's performing original music and renditions from a muddy American songbook. If it doesn't come out on Big Cypress Records or thereabouts, you'll have to travel through Florida's backwaters to hear it, because the man doesn't emerge too often. (--by John Stacey for Big Cypress Records).

Carrie Stevenson

Carrie Stevenson is the Coastal Sustainability Agent for the UF/IFAS Escambia County Extension Office and has been with the organization for 15 years. Her educational outreach programs focus on living sustainability within a vulnerable coastal ecosystem. She helps residents better understand how to protect and preserve local ecosystems and water resources, wisely use our abundant rainfall and sunlight, and prepare and mitigate for flooding, coastal storms, and climate impacts. Prior to Extension, she worked in wetland, stormwater, and drinking water compliance and enforcement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Carrie is a past president of the Florida Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals (FANREP), a member of the Florida/National Association of County Agriculture Agents (FACAA/NACAA), and a Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI) Fellow. A lifelong outdoors enthusiast, she enjoys biking, standup paddleboarding, and traveling to national parks with her family. Carrie is the proud mom of an almost-Eagle Scout and leads her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. She holds a Master’s degree in Biology/Coastal Zone Studies from the University of West Florida in Pensacola and an undergraduate degree in Biology/Marine Science from Samford University (Birmingham, Alabama).

Greg St.Amand

Greg has been in and around water for his entire life, starting with the Great Lakes and inland waters of Michigan. After learning to dive in 2013 it took exactly 4 dives to convince him that Florida more closely aligned with his preferred water temperature range. Greg first worked for the Florida Sea Base in the summer of 2014 and promptly decided this was the place to be. Working first as a divemaster and later an instructor has given him the opportunity to educate the scouts that visit the Sea Base. Greg's passion lies with all things scuba, and teaching others the practice and appreciation of visiting the underwater world. He believes that the best way for folks to respect the subsea environment is to see it at close quarters, and works to facilitate the meeting with anyone who will listen.

Mac Stone

A Florida native, photographer Mac Stone spent his childhood exploring the swamps, prairies, and springs of North Central Florida. Over the years his photography has brought him from the wilds of the Amazon rainforest to the ranches of Wyoming, but he always finds his way back to his home state. He has lived in the Florida Keys working with the National Audubon Society helping to promote Everglades restoration efforts. Stone's projects are focused around the fragile Florida Bay ecosystem and the wildernesses surrounding the southern Everglades. Recently with a grant from Disney he produced a multimedia website, RestoreFloridaBay.com, highlighting the research of Audubon's Tavernier Science center in the imperiled River of Grass watershed.

Ken Sulak

Ken Sulak, Ph.D. is a research fish biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Gainesville, Florida. He is lead scientist for the Coastal Ecology and Conservation Research Group and leader of the Sturgeon Quest project aimed at developing scientific knowledge of the life history, population biology, and habitat requirements of the Gulf sturgeon in the Suwannee and other Gulf Coast rivers. Dr. Sulak has degrees in biology and marine science from Harvard University and the University of Miami School of Marine Science. He has 30+ years of experience in marine, estuarine and anadromous fish research and conservation biology. He has published extensively on fish community ecology, population biology, and endangered sturgeon life history and conservation biology. Dr. Sulak is involved in the scientific basis for conserving Florida's living and water resources.


Since 1992, Lee Hunter and Arvid Smith of Tammerlin have been placing their own stamp on folk/roots music. Always aiming to convey their passion for the story is the magic of their. What you'll hear is exceptional musicianship accompanying clever original songs and traditional tunes pulled from the roots of American music—a little bit folk, pop, country, old time, British Isles, and blues with some world music flavorings. Dirty Linen Magazine has described the duo as "captivating" and "one of the best kept secrets in America."

Dr. Laura Tiu

Dr. Tiu is a Marine Science Extension Agent with the University of Florida Sea Grant. Her areas of expertise include technology transfer, industry development, and environmental education. She works in Okaloosa and Walton Counties on a variety of projects. Her signature project is the development of an Aquaponics Community of Practice, a group of individuals learning together in the Panhandle. She is also working on a micro-plastic awareness project, a barotrauma research effort with the Destin Charter Boat captains, and a series of environmental awareness eco-tours with Panhandle Outdoor Live groups.

Margaret Ross Tolbert

Margaret Ross Tolbert is an artist based in Gainesville, Florida. Over the last twenty years she has executed series of paintings, drawings, and lithographs from studios in the US, France, and Turkey. Her commissions include projects for series of paintings with residencies in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Oman, enabling her to continue research for her series Doors and study of language and dance from the regions of the ancient trade routes. Another continuing focus is the springs of North Florida, whose paradisiacal presence provide a sense of ideal destination and the exotic in the here-and-now that counterpoints the sense of passage, time and journey implicit in the Door paintings. Solo exhibits include AQUIFERious, at Lemieux Galleries, New Orleans and Orlando Springs for the Orlando International Airport.

Mickey Thomason

Mickey Thomason earned a Bachelor's degree in Parks and Recreation from the University of Florida in 1990 and has been a parks and recreation professional since 1994 with the Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Greenways and Trails. He has also pursued graduate coursework in fisheries management, limnology, aquatic plant sciences and others at UF and served as a wilderness guide for at risk youth in Marion County. Thomason was one of the first employees hired on the Cross Florida Greenway when it was created out of the former Cross Florida Barge Canal project in the early 1990s and has worked in numerous positions during his career, from an OPS Ranger to his current position as Park Manager over the 70,000+ acre Cross Florida Greenway.

Dan Tonsmeire

Dan Tonsmeire has served both as Apalachicola Riverkeeper and as the organization's Executive Director since May of 2010. He began his tenure with Apalachicola Riverkeeper in 2004. Tonsmeire is passionately committed to saving not only the Apalachicola River, which is truly an American treasure, but to protecting and restoring the Apalachicola Bay, one of the last great estuaries left in America. Previously, Tonsmeire served as principal coordinator for the development and implementation of the Northwest Florida Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) program for the Northwest Florida Water Management District. Before that, he was the resident manager of a 1,250-acre Wilderness Preserve on Dog Island, Florida where he facilitated and coordinated research and program development for the Nature Conservancy. He graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Civil Engineering and currently holds a United States Coast Guard Ocean Operator's license.

Katie Tripp

Katie Tripp, Ph.D. is Director of Science and Conservation for the Save the Manatee Club. She received her Bachelor's degree from Eckerd College in Marine Science and her Ph.D. in Veterinary Medical Sciences from the University of Florida, where she conducted research on manatee physiology. She has worked as a manatee consultant for one of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Projects and as a biologist with FWC's Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab, where she assisted with manatee necropies, carcass salvage, marine mammal rescues, and various research projects. Among her many honors, Katie was chosen as the Florida League of Conservation Voters' Betsy Wood Fellow and was a Ford Foundation and Morris K. Udall Scholar. At the 2008 Marine Mammal Health Conference organized by the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine and others, she received the Reep-Bonde Florida Manatee Biology and Conservation Award for her research that furthered the basic knowledge of fundamental manatee biology.

Florence Turcotte

Florence Turcotte is Associate University Librarian and Literary Manuscripts Archivist at the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida. She serves as the curator of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Zora Neale Hurston Papers at UF. She also provides curatorial services for environmental collections, including the Records of the Florida Defenders of the Environment, the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club, and H.T. Odum Papers. Flo is the author of the Arthur W. Thompson Award winning article entitled: "For this is an Enchanted Land: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and the Florida Environment," published in the Florida Historical Quarterly (90:4, Spring 2012). She also enjoys public outreach programs, book clubs, and, of course, birding and other outdoor activities.

Cheryl Watson & Watertown

Cheryl Watson and Watertown draws its music from the rootsy branches of Bluegrass and Americana, playing original compositions as well as their own inventive cover versions of songs. The band prides itself on strong vocals and creative instrumentals.

The Weeds of Eden

The Weeds of Eden have been performing together since 1994. They still pretty much get along most of the time. From Gainesville, Florida, the group plays shows ranging from small town festivals to Pagan weddings, circumcision ceremonies, dog wakes, street performances, foul smelling bars, and an endless string of political and bleeding heart fundraisers. The Weeds' sound is fundamentally folk-rock over a world beat foundation. In addition to the Weeds' original compositions, they cover hundreds of traditional, folk, R&B, Celtic, seasonal, and rock standards. The guys in the band particularly like cowboy and filthy pirate songs. The Weeds have appeared on the PBS television series "CD Highway" and several of their recordings are in the sound-track of the award-winning documentary Fish-Soup. The Weeds have played onstage with Rock Legend Bo Diddley and Nashville Singer Songwriter Pierce Pettis. More importantly, the band members collectively own 14 dogs.

Rick Whaley

Born & raised on the shores of New Jersey, Rick started playing clubs, private parties & stage shows at the early age of 11. At 15 he started being featured on various TV variety shows, stage shows, as well as radio appearances in New Jersey, New York , Philly, New Orleans, Cleveland, Ohio & Orange County, California. After traveling half of the United States playing & singing with popular bands & name acts, he decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee where he performed 6 to 10 gigs a week, as well as becoming a staff musician at a demo recording studio. That's when Rick started writing his own songs. He opened his own recording business called "Reels on Wheels" where he would go on location with a remote studio to record artist's Live. This business brought him to the Florabama on Perdido Key, Florida in 1989 to record the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival (an 11 day event). Rick fell in love with the area with it's sugar white sandy beaches and incredible water's, and started booking himself at the Florabama & other local venues traveling back & forth from Music City. Nine years later, in 1998, he finally made Perdido Key his home.

The gulf coast of Florida is now where Rick hang's his hat. Rick has performed with many artist's, player's, singer's as well as creative songwriter's from the area, including notable bands such as "Southwind", "the Dixie Flyers", "the Perdido Brothers", and countless others.

Nathan Whitt

Nathan Whitt was born on the Fourth of July and 'Independence' is his middle name! He has always enjoyed the best of both outdoor worlds. Growing up between his mother's home in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio and his father's home in the islands of the Florida Keys, he spent his youth snorkeling reefs, fishing, hiking, caving, canoeing, and kayaking. His ever-present passion for the natural world, water flow patterns, and geology has kept him in the pursuit of the form and function of water flow, erosivity, and rock. He graduated from the Ohio State University in 1994 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Watershed Policy and Planning and a minor in Geological Structures.

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Lon & Elisabeth Williamson

Lon and Elisabeth Williamson, musical partners and sweethearts for 35 years, are well known around the Sunshine State for their artistry as a duo, blending eloquent harmonies with accomplished musicianship. Add to that their dynamic repertoire of original, oldtime, jazz, swing, and bluegrass tunes and you have a show that you're not likely to soon forget. They are also members of The Gatorbone Trio with Gabe Valla, The Gatorbone Band with Gabe and Jason Thomas, and The Driftwoods with Gabe and Eric Searcy, based out of St. Augustine. When not on the road, the Williamsons spend time at their home in the Sandhills, where they write and record their own music as well as produce and record music of artists from all over the southeast.

Monica Woll

Monica married into Florida Bay Outfitters in May of 2000 when she and Frank had the Keys' first ever kayak wedding. Besides running the business, they also started Paradise Paddlers Club and pioneered the Florida Keys Paddling Trail. When Monica took a job as the Trails Specialist for the Overseas Heritage Trail for five years, she took an interest in Flagler's Overseas Railroad. She enjoys illuminating people that traverse the Keys, whether by kayak or bicycle, about the fascinating bridges that are reminders of this engineering wonder. She is also the Director of the Florida Keys and Everglades Region for the Florida Paddling Trails and a certified Florida Master Naturalist.

Rebecca Zapen

Violinist, vocalist, and songwriter Rebecca Zapen won Best Album & Song (cabaret genre) in the Just Plain Folks Awards 2009, receiving five nominations. A classically-trained violinist and versatile musician, Zapen was named Jacksonville's Musician of the Year in 2008. Career highlights include her performance as the musical guest on Public Radio International show Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?; original songs in a national promotion for Crocs Shoes; winning second place in the Bushman World Ukulele Video Contest, and her resulting endorsement with Bushman Music Works. Zapen was a Finalist in the 2007 Disc Makers, Independent Music World Series. Other highlights include appearances as jazz vocalist with the Hollywood Philharmonic Orchestra, and as the mandolin soloist in Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's production of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni. She is an award-winning composer, earning the Silver Medal of Excellence for Best Use of Music in a Short Film at the 2008 Park City Film Music Festival. Her original songs appear in Look Both Ways, which won for Best Music in the 2009 San Francisco Seven Day Film Festival. As a session musician, Zapen has composed for and performed on recordings for soundtracks, television, public radio, theme parks, and various musical groups.

Gene Altman, P.E.

Gene Altman is a Senior Professional Engineer in the Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) Section of the Natural Systems Restoration Bureau of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (DISTRICT). Gene graduated from University of South Florida in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with emphasis on water resources and environment. Gene started his career at the DISTRICT as an intern in 1997 and has expertise in Engineering and Watershed Management Program project management, Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Insurance Rate Map studies and adoption process, FARMS project management, and project performance evaluation. Gene transitioned to the FARMS program in July 2016 and brings his project management and engineering experience along with his agricultural background to assist the agricultural community in implementing water quantity and quality best management practices. Gene coordinates with a variety of District professionals, outside agencies, consultants and vendors to assist growers in land use, regulatory process, planning, finance and project tracking. Gene is 5 th generation Floridian and in his spare time, he owns and operates Bramble Creek Farms, a u-pick thornless blackberry farm, in Hernando County Florida.