On May 18th, over 160 supporters gathered at the UF Austin Carey Center to celebrate springs at FSI’s annual Save Our Springs Mermaid Gala. The evening kicked off with cocktails, mermaids, and an exploration of the silent auction and beautiful venue. Following a buffet dinner provided by Sweetwater Branch Inn, FSI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight, welcomed the crowd and passed the mic to photographer John Moran, who provided an introduction of the evening’s keynote speaker, award-winning environmental journalist Cynthia Barnett. Cynthia’s keynote entitled “Nature as Truth in a Post-Truth World” was one of the top highlights of the evening!
The evening also contained several other highlights, including presentation of FSI’s annual awards. Zoey Hendrickson was honored as FSI’s Volunteer of the Year. A brand-new award for Outstanding SpringsWatch Leader was presented to Lindsey Kelly, who leads FSI’s Homosassa SpringsWatch program. The Great Outdoors Restaurant was also recognized as the Springs Business Steward of the Year. The final award, the Springs Steward of the Year, was presented to biologist Tom Morris in recognition of his many contributions to springs science and education.
The program ended with a special unveiling of the conceptual plans for the Silver Springs Environmental Center by FSI Associate Director, Heather Obara, and closing remarks from FSI Board Members, Dr. Robert Ulanowicz, Dr. Mary Odum, and Dr. Knight.
Guests remained late into the evening chatting and enjoying the mermaid show as the silent auction reached its final minutes. A fun evening was had by all who attended and over $14,000 was raised in support of springs science, education, and conservation!
Thank you to the following business and individuals who sponsored this year’s gala: Visit Gainesville/Alachua County, Sweetwater Catering, First Magnitude Brewery, MSA Architects, Yoga Pod, Master Switch Freediving, and Dr. Dave Wilson.
We look forward to seeing you all in 2020 for the next Mermaid Gala!