I have been a resident of North Port since 1991 where my son was born and raised, and I recently retired from teaching with the Charlotte County Public Schools after almost 30 years. I have been involved in my community and a dedicated advocate for the environment since my arrival in North Port. I began People for Trees, a non-profit native tree advocacy group in 1997, which continues to sponsor annual events such as the Tree Fair and the Tour de North Port bicycle ride as well as hosting regular kayak outings on our local creeks and rivers, and Eco-Kids adventures for children. As chair of People for Trees, I spearheaded collaborative efforts with the City of North Port to plant over 300 street trees, establish a Commemorative Tree Walk, and a “Tree Planting Blitz” that planted 50 trees around all of North Port’s schools to celebrate the city’s 50th anniversary. The group recently partnered with the Friends of the Osprey Junction Trailhead along the Legacy Trail in order to create a tree arboretum at that location.
I have served on the boards of the Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club, the Lemon Bay Conservancy, am currently on the boards of the Environmental Conservancy of North Port, the North Port Beautification and Tree Advisory Board, the Historical Committee for Sarasota County, named North Port’s Greenest Citizen in 2013 and Citizen of the Year in 2014, and received the Keep Sarasota County Beautiful Neighborhood Improvement Award in 2016.
In 2002 I formed “North Port Citizens for Tree Protection” in order to place a citizen-initiated referendum on the ballot to add tree protection standards to the North Port City Charter modeled after the initiative approved by the voters in Jacksonville Florida.
In addition to being a full-time teacher and mom, my business ventures included starting a personal welcome service for newcomers, “Welcome to North Port”, in 1992, outfitting a post office vehicle to be an ice cream truck, “Mom’s Ice Cream”, opening “The Coffee Café” in 1996 that featured local folk singers, and currently bake homemade “Pie-licious Pies” under Florida’s Cottage Food Law to sell from my home, at fairs, and at Farmer’s Markets.
In 1993 when activities for toddlers in North Port were lacking, I began a “Mommy and Me” program at the North Port Library, and most recently published a children’s book, “The Adventures of Cowboy Jake”, inspired by my son’s imaginative stories when playing as a child among the palmettos and pine trees in our beautiful Florida backyard.
“What is past is prologue” is one of my most favorite quotations. I have a deep respect for our history, the foundation of our success in Sarasota County, and I believe that our environment is as much of our history as any man-made structure. I will be the voice that speaks for the environment, one who will “speak for the trees”, one who puts people before profits and values our quality of life. That voice has been missing from the County Commissioners’ dais for a very long time and I intend to bring it back.
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