The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation originally founded under the auspices of Florida's Eden. The organization's founder, Dr. Robert L. Knight, carried out landmark ecological research at Silver Springs, Florida, under the direction of Dr. Odum in 1979-1980 and follow-up studies in 2004-2006 and 2009-2010.

Please click on the section headings to the left to learn more about us.

Board of Directors

Robert L. Knight, PhD

President of the Board

Dr. Knight is an environmental scientist/systems ecologist. He has over 38 years of experience as an aquatic and wetland ecologist in Florida. His doctoral work included an ecological assessment of Silver Springs and Silver River under the direction of Howard T. Odum. He completed assessments of the quantitative basis for establishing a minimum flow regime for protection of water and human-use resource values (WRVs) in Volusia County Blue Spring, a 50-year retrospective study of the ecological health of Silver Springs, the basis for establishing pollutant load reduction goals and WRVs for the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run, and a comparison of the ecology of twelve of Florida’s artesian springs.

Under Dr. Knight's leadership, the Florida Springs Institute has developed restoration action plans for Glen Springs, Ichetucknee Springs, Kings Bay Springs, Lower Suwannee River Springs, Rainbow Springs, Santa Fe River Springs, Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs, and Wekiva River and Springs. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for the Florida Springs Institute, Dr. Knight is also a Board and/or Advisory Panel member for the Silver Springs Alliance, Ichetucknee Alliance, Our Santa Fe River, Wakulla Springs Alliance, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and Florida Springs Council.

Awards & Recognitions

Florida Federation of Garden Clubs Earth Steward (2015)

Fourth Annual Spirit of Gainesville Education Award (2014)

Rotary International First Annual Stewardship Water Award (2014)

Silver Springs Alliance Board of Directors (2012-2013)

Marion County Springs Festival Distinguished Speaker (2011)

Patricia Harden


Vice President of the Board

Pat has been involved in environmental issues related to water for the past 35 years. She is a retired Manager of Environmental Affairs at Walt Disney World Co. She served eight years on the St Johns River Water Management Board, including two years as Chair. She is a founding member of the Friends of the Wekiva River, Inc., and has remained involved in issues concerning protection of Wekiwa Springs and the river ecosystem. Pat is former Chair and current Trustee on The Nature Conservancy, Florida Chapter board and has been recognized by the Florida Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and the Soil Conservation Society of America for work in conservation.

David Wilson, PhD

Treasurer of the Board

Dr. Wilson earned his PhD in mathematics from Rutgers in 1969. In September 1972, he joined the Mathematics Department at the University of Florida, where he taught for 35 years before retiring in 2007. During his career, he taught both theoretical and applied mathematics to engineers, computer scientists, and mathematics students. In addition to dozens of publications, he organized a number of mathematics conferences and symposia including the first Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (or SIAM) conference on imaging science in Boston in 2002, where 239 researchers attended (http://www.siam.org/meetings/is02/). He also collaborated with Dr. Edward A. Geiser, MD in the UF Medical School for 15 years on an echocardiography research project focused on the development of computer based algorithms designed to make measurements of heart function. Dave is an avid canoeist, hiker, and biker. He has led, organized, and/or participated in hundreds of outings. He has also served several times as treasurer and twice as chair of the local Sierra Club.

Mary Odum, PhD


Secretary of the Board

Dr. Odum has worked in healthcare as a nurse for 35 years, including 20 years as a nursing professor. Before relocating to Gainesville Florida, she taught Nursing and Honors at University of Alaska Anchorage, and was involved with their Complex Systems Group. She administers a 2-year old blog called ProsperousWayDown.com, and she is a featured author at Resilience.org. She is also a Trustee and Secretary for the Emergy Society (International Society for the Advancement of Emergy Research). She learned most of what she knows about systems thinking from her ecologist father and uncle, the Odum brothers.

Buddy MacKay, Esq.


Member of the Board

Buddy is a retired attorney and former state legislator (serving in the Florida Senate and House of Representatives), U. S. Representative, Lt. Governor and Governor of the State of Florida. He grew up on a citrus farm near Ocala. In addition to his work with the Florida Springs Institute, Buddy also serves on the Advisory Board of the Conservation Trust for Florida.

Robert Palmer, PhD

Member of the Board

Dr. Palmer holds a Ph.D. in marine biology and worked on the staff of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the U. S. House of Representatives for 26 years, including 12 years as the Committee's Staff Director. He serves on a number of for-profit and non-profit boards and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Bob formerly chaired the Alachua County Environmental Protection Advisory Committee. 



Phyllis Saarinen

 

Member of the Board

Profile coming soon!

Jim Stevenson


Member of the Board

Jim is a retired senior biologist with the Department of Environmental Protection. Jim began his 38 year career with the Department as a park ranger while attending the University of South Florida.  He served as Chief Biologist for the Florida State Park System for 20 years during which he guided the restoration and protection of state park springs. 

Jim organized and coordinated spring basin interagency working groups for Wakulla Spring and Ichetucknee Springs for 18 years. He was Chairman of the Florida Springs Task Force that developed a protection strategy for Florida’s springs and he was Director of the Governor’s Florida Springs Initiative that funded springs protection. He conducted Florida Springs Conferences in 2000 and 2003 and coordinated the Florida Springs Rally at the Capital in 2010. In recognition of his dedication to the protection of Florida’s springs, the State of Florida named a large spring on the Suwannee River “Stevenson Spring” in his honor.

For his longstanding stewardship of Florida’s public lands, the Governor and Cabinet dedicated the “Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year Award” that is given annually by the Governor and Cabinet to the most deserving state lands manager in the Department of Environmental Protection, the Division of Forestry and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Robert E. Ulanowicz, PhD


Member of the Board

Dr. Ulanowicz is a native of Baltimore and a graduate of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. He received a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering Science from the The Johns Hopkins University, and is currently Professor Emeritus with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Dr. Ulanowicz pursued research on the analysis of ecological networks at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, MD for 38 years, before moving to Gainesville, FL, where he is now a Courtesy Professor with the UF Department of Biology. 

In 1987, Dr. Ulanowicz was a featured speaker at the Royal Swedish Academy Symposium honoring H.T. Odum with the Crafoord Prize. In 2007, Robert was awarded the Ilya A. Prigogine Medal from the University of Siena for outstanding research in ecosystems dynamics. Dr. Ulanowicz has written three books, Growth and Development: Ecosystems Phenomenology (1986), Ecology, the Ascendent Perspective (1997) and A Third Window: Natural Life beyond Newton and Darwin (2009) and authored over 190 refereed publications. He has maintained an almost lifelong attachment to the springs of Florida, visiting them from Maryland at least yearly since 1962.

Terry L. Zinn, Esq.


Member of the Board

Terry has a B.S. in Biology, M.S. in Wildlife Ecology, and a J.D.  He has worked as an environmental attorney for over 27 years in private and public areas.  His practice has focused on remedial work at contaminated sites, groundwater contamination, wetlands, endangered species. 

He now raises over 30 species of native wildflower seed on his farm, Wildflowers of Florida, Inc., in northern Alachua County. Terry has been researching and producing native wildflower seed for 16 years. He is a founding member, Vice President, and past President and Treasurer of the Florida Wildflower Cooperative.  He was appointed in 2007 to the Florida Wildflower Foundation board as the Cooperative’s representative and currently serves as Chair of the Board.  He is a past board member and Chair of the Conservation Trust for Florida.

Advisory Panel

The Advisory Panel has the following responsibilities related to the Florida Springs Institute:

    • Promote the Florida Springs Institute and the need for springs restoration and protection in Florida.
    • Annually evaluate progress and help to update the Three-Year Plan.
    • Provide outreach related to springs restoration and protection to the public and governmental decision-makers.
    • Promote teamwork across all interested groups for springs restoration and protection.
    • Provide credibility for the mission and actions of the Florida Springs Institute.

Lars Anderson



Advisory Panel

Lars, a life-long Floridian, is the owner of Adventure Outpost in High Springs. He is a full-time nature guide and the author of several works including, Payne's Prairie: A History and Guide, Paddlers Guide to the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and The North Florida Adventure, an audio CD. You can read about his adventures on his blog, River Guides Journal. 

Todd Kincaid, Phd


Advisory Panel

Dr. Kincaid is a hydrogeologist with more than 20 years of experience in aquifer characterization and hydrogeologic modeling. He has earned a Ph.D. in hydrogeology from the University of Wyoming and a MS and BS in hydrogeology and geology from the University of Florida. He is the managing member of GeoHydros LLC, a consulting company focused on advanced computer simulation and visualization of complex geologic and hydrologic environments. His work has addressed karst-conduit flow in the Floridan aquifer, extremely heterogeneous aquifers in glacial sediments in New York and Pennsylvania; fractured rock aquifers in interbedded shales and limestones of eastern Pennsylvania; and structurally complex volcanic and sedimentary rocks underlying Yucca Mountain and the Nevada Test Site, Nevada. 

Dr. Kincaid also serves as the vice-president for Global Underwater Explorers, a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring and protecting underwater environments, and on the Board of Directors for the Wakulla Springs Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving and promoting strategies for protecting Florida springs.

Elizabeth Odum


Advisory Panel

Elizabeth (Betty) Odum was born in Hartford, Connecticut and grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a major in Zoology and minor in Chemistry. She received her MEd from the University of Florida. Her second marriage was to Howard T. Odum, (died Sept 2002) with whom she shared research, travelled and wrote ecology books, such as “A Prosperous Way Down.” After teaching biology and ecology at Santa Fe College, she retired as Professor Emerita. Betty now works with the Emergy Society and the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetlands.

Stephen Walsh, PHD


Advisory Panel

Dr. Walsh is a Research Ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, in Gainesville, Florida. He has been in federal service with the Department of the Interior for over 25 years. His primary research interests are the ecology, systematics, ecophysiology, and conservation of freshwater fishes and other aquatic biodiversity. He has worked in freshwater and marine ecosystems in the central and southeastern U.S., the Caribbean, Neotropics, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Micronesia. He has a bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) in Biology from St. Louis University, a master’s degree in Zoology from Southern Illinois University, and a doctoral degree in Zoology from the University of Florida, where he currently holds courtesy faculty and curator appointments in three departments (Biology, Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, and Florida Museum of Natural History). In addition to his service on the FSI advisory Panel, he has served in numerous other professional capacities. For more information about Dr. Walsh, click here.

Staff

Robert L. Knight, PhD


Executive Director

Dr. Knight is an environmental scientist/systems ecologist. He has over 38 years of experience as an aquatic and wetland ecologist in Florida. His doctoral work included an ecological assessment of Silver Springs and Silver River under the direction of Howard T. Odum. He completed assessments of the quantitative basis for establishing a minimum flow regime for protection of water and human-use resource values (WRVs) in Volusia County Blue Spring, a 50-year retrospective study of the ecological health of Silver Springs, the basis for establishing pollutant load reduction goals and WRVs for the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run, and a comparison of the ecology of twelve of Florida’s artesian springs.

Under Dr. Knight's leadership, the Florida Springs Institute has developed restoration action plans for Glen Springs, Ichetucknee Springs, Kings Bay Springs, Lower Suwannee River Springs, Rainbow Springs, Santa Fe River Springs, Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs, and Wekiva River and Springs. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for the Florida Springs Institute, Dr. Knight is also a Board and/or Advisory Panel member for the Silver Springs Alliance, Ichetucknee Alliance, Our Santa Fe River, Wakulla Springs Alliance, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and Florida Springs Council.

Heather Obara, Esq.


Associate Director

Heather received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Political Philosophy from Florida State University in 2010. In 2013, Heather became a graduate of Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando, Florida, where she received an Honors Certificate in Environmental and Earth Law.  

As a law student, Heather was involved in several organizations on campus including serving as President of the Environmental Law Society, Vice President of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and member of the Environmental and Earth Law Journal and Environmental Responsibility Committee. As a result of her hard work, she was selected as the 2013 Environmental and Earth Law Student of the Year by her law school professors. In September 2013, Heather was admitted to practice law as a member of the Florida Bar. 

Heather has been an active member of the environmental community for several years as a volunteer with various non-profit organizations and previously served as FSI's Outreach Director. Heather currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Springs Council and Silver Springs Alliance. She is also a member of the Blue Spring Alliance Steering Committee. 

Melissa Redon


Outreach Director

Over the last 10 years, Melissa has provided marketing, design, fundraising, and event planning services to a myriad of businesses and industries, including many local non-profits. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Florida in 2003 and an A.A. in Graphic Design from Santa Fe College in 2005, as well as a certificate in Tradeshow Marketing from the University of Illinois in 2011.

While Melissa is new to the environmental community, she has been a springs enthusiast since her first trip to Blue Springs in 2000. 

Ron Clarke


Senior Environmental Scientist

With over 18 years of experience, Ron has provided professional services related to biological and water quality data collection and analysis in springs and wetlands throughout Florida and the southeastern United States. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Soil and Water Science from the University of Florida.

Ron has experience in a number of environmental disciplines including: water quality and biological monitoring, spring ecology, water quality treatment, hydrological monitoring, data analysis and interpretation, database design and management, and environmental permitting.


Interns

The interns at the Florida Springs Institute are an integral part of our organization. Our interns contribute to our mission in many ways, including: 

    • Assisting in water quality sampling and testing, 
    • Conducting experiments, 
    • Planning and organizing events, and 
    • Assisting with outreach efforts. 

Emily Taylor


Spring 2017

Emily is studying Environmental Science at the University of Florida and expects to receive her bachelor's degree in April 2016. Emily has been an intern with the Florida Springs Institute since January 2014. She is also an active member of the UF chapter of the American Water Resources Association (AWRA).


Paul Donsky


Spring 2017

Paul has been an intern with the Florida Springs Institute since August 2015. He is currently receiving his AA degree from Santa Fe College and intends to transfer to the University of Florida to study soil and water science. On the weekends, Paul also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. 



Volunteers

The Florida Springs Institute is always accepting volunteers to assist with a range of tasks including, but not limited to:

    • Monitoring at Ichetucknee Springs, Homosassa Springs, and Silver Springs for the SpringWatch program,
    • On-site cage construction and data collection at Kings Bay,
    • Setting up for FSI special events and meetings, and 
    • Tabling at environmental festivals and events. 
If you are interested in volunteering with the Florida Springs Institute, please contact us through our website. 

Debra Segal


Education Program Coordinator

Debbie is an Environmental Scientist and has worked in the field of wetlands, springs, wildlife, soils, and plant science for over 25 years. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Soils and Land Use and a Masters of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida. 

During her 25-year career, Debbie has witnessed the degradation that has occurred to our environment - specifically to the springs, rivers, lakes, and surrounding forests.  Debbie now volunteers for the Florida Springs Institute as a coordinator for our Education Program to help spread the word on the threats that are occurring to our springs and spring-fed rivers, and to help educate the public on what we can do to reverse the degradation. Debbie regularly gives presentations to high school science classes and civic groups in Alachua and surrounding counties. Through her presentation, she has reached over hundreds of students and community members. 

The Florida Springs Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. All or a portion of your donation may be tax deductible. FEIN 46-1663401.


Mailing Address: 23695 W US HWY 27, High Springs, FL 32643
Main Tel: (386) 454-2427
Main Fax: (386) 454-9369


Contact Us

FDACS Registration #CH38941, Expiration Date: 6/28/2017

A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

Copyright © 2017 Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. All rights reserved. 

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