Community Partners Protecting Our Planet

Earth Day is on April 22nd, but we are celebrating throughout the month of April by highlighting community partners working year-round to protect our planet! We will feature a different organization every day on our social media so be sure to follow and share.

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Interested in getting involved with one of these organizations? E-mail CES Specialist Sarah Blanc at sarah.blanc@sfcollege.edu to learn more.

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Alachua Conservation Trust

The mission of Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) is to protect the natural, historic, scenic and recreational resources in and around North Central Florida. ACT protects land through purchase, donation, and conservation easements in 16 counties. For 33 years, ACT has been instrumental in facilitating the conservation of over 54,500 acres of Florida land. This includes the direct purchase and protection of nearly 20,000 acres. ACT owns and manages almost 5,000 acres and collaborates with private landowners to protect an additional 5,768 acres through conservation easements. ACT serves our community by protecting and preserving natural spaces, creating opportunities to interact with the environment, and teaching the next generation through environmental education programs. To learn more, visit alachuaconservationtrust.org.

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Alachua County Environmental Protection Department

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department works to foster a community ethic of responsible environmental stewardship of the land, air, water, and living resources in Alachua County. Their services include water and natural resources protection, land conservation and management, environmental planning, review, and code enforcement, pollution prevention, hazardous materials collection and management, petroleum contamination clean up, and storage tank compliance inspections. To learn more, visit alachuacounty.us/depts/epd.

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Bread of the Mighty Food Bank

Bread of the Mighty Food Bank saves millions of pounds of food from our landfill every year while fighting hunger in our five-county region. In 2019, they distributed 8.4 million pounds of food to people in need, and that number is projected to increase 50% more as a result of the pandemic. Every day, Bread of the Mighty receives a massive amount of donated fresh food and rapidly distributes that food to hungry people across their network of non-profits and pantries. For every $1 donated, Bread of the Mighty Food Bank can provide up to 10 meals. To learn more, visit breadofthemighty.org.

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Cinema Verde

Cinema Verde’s mission is to provide environmental education to the public through film, arts, workshops, events, tours and any other forum or media. Cinema Verde hosts an annual film festival to increase public awareness of environmental practices that enhance public health and improve quality of life in urban, suburban and rural settings. The festival brings community organizations, businesses and citizens together to help forge sustainable solutions for our future. To learn more, visit cinemaverde.org.

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Community Weatherization Coalition

The Community Weatherization Coalition (CWC) is a grassroots community coalition made up of citizens, religious leaders, and NGOs concerned about Alachua County citizens spending a large percentage of their income on home energy bills. Their mission is to help our neighbors save energy and water and reduce their utility bills by engaging volunteers, building community, and learning together. To learn more, visit communityweatherization.org.

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Current Problems

Current Problems was established in 1993 when a small group of friends began working together to clean up the debris and contaminants in and along the banks of north Florida’s Santa Fe River. Twenty seven years later, this grassroots organization has expanded its focus to include urban creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes throughout north central Florida. To learn more, visit currentproblems.org.

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Days for Girls

The Marine Conservation Society estimates that 4.8 pieces of menstrual waste are found per 100 meters of beach cleaned. Days for Girls is fighting plastic pollution and empowering women worldwide by creating sustainable menstrual hygiene kits. Days for Girls mission is to increase access to menstrual care and education by developing global partnerships, cultivating Social Entrepreneurs, mobilizing volunteers and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigma and limitations for women and girls. To learn more, visit facebook.com/groups/DaysforGirlsAlachuaFL.

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Florida Conservation Corps

The mission of the Florida Conservation Corps is to develop natural and cultural resource leaders by connecting them to areas of critical need in conservation, preservation, interpretation and resource-based recreation. The 24-year-old Florida Conservation Corps (FLCC) AmeriCorps program is administered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Park Service. Members focus on habitat restoration by reducing invasive exotic plant infestations through various land management techniques. They also recruit volunteers and educate park visitors about issues of invasive exotic plants in natural ecosystems. To learn more, visit floridastateparks.org/FLCC.

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Florida Museum of Natural History

The Florida Museum of Natural History is a leading authority in biodiversity and cultural heritage, using its expertise to advance knowledge, solve real world problems, and impact public policy and perception. An engaging and impactful hub for teaching and learning science, the Museum has been particularly successful at utilizing research collections and making them accessible to diverse audiences, demonstrating relevance in their daily lives. In so doing, the Florida Museum of Natural History inspires people to value the biological richness and cultural heritage of our diverse world and make a positive difference in its future. To learn more, visit floridamuseum.ufl.edu.

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Florida Organic Growers

Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers Inc. (FOG) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation established in 1987. FOG operates two programs: Education & Outreach and Quality Certification Services. FOG educated producers, consumers, media, institutions and governments about the benefits of organic and sustainable agriculture. FOG’s goal is to assure the voices of small, mid-sized, family and organic farmers are heard by policymakers. FOG works to ensure that farmers are granted the rights, respect and protection they deserve as citizens, business-owners and providers of the most important commodity—food. To learn more, visit foginfo.org.

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Florida Trail Association

The Florida Trail Association (FTA) develops, maintains, protects, and promotes a network of hiking trails throughout the state, including the unique Florida National Scenic Trail (commonly known as the Florida Trail). Together with their partners, FTA provides opportunities for the public to hike, engage in outdoor recreation, participate in environmental education, and contribute to meaningful volunteer work. To learn more, visit floridatrail.org.

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Gainesville Greenway Challenge

The Gainesville Greenway Challenge is a year-round effort whose aim is to restore natural habitat in Gainesville by removing invasive non-native plant species that threaten ecosystem health. Join the challenge and help eradicate the region’s most aggressive invasive plants in Gainesville’s nature parks! Every Thursday and each First Saturday, they’ll be meeting at one of our beautiful City Parks to remove invasive plants and make new friends. They even provide the gloves, buckets, water, and bug spray. To learn more, visit facebook.com/gnvgreenwaychallenge.

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GROW HUB

GROW HUB’s collaborative community programs and partnerships provide meaningful work to adults of all abilities. Their campus provides opportunities to train in retail sales, nursery stock management, gardening, landscape maintenance, equipment repairs, seed saving, plant sales, art classes and yoga workshops. You can volunteer or support their work directly by purchasing from hundreds of landscaping, pollinator and edible plants, hand made arts and crafts, seeds, honey, and more! To learn more, visit grow-hub.org.

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Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute

The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute is a science and education based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Their goal is to document Florida’s springs and educate the public about the threats that face them to ensure future generations can enjoy them as we have. Since 2010, the Florida Springs Institute has been establishing a quantitative springs baseline by monitoring and reporting water quality and quantity, conducting springs ecological studies, and documenting the overall health of Florida’s spring ecosystems. To learn more, visit floridaspringsinstitute.org.

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Keep Alachua County Beautiful

Keep Alachua County Beautiful (KACB)’s mission is to beautify, conserve resources, recycle, educate and preserve our community’s environmental legacy. As an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, KACB believes that each of us holds an obligation to preserve and protect our environment. Through our everyday choices and actions, we collectively have a significant impact on our world. KACB creates meaningful, positive and lasting change by delivering innovative, locally-focused programs that address our community’s needs. To learn more, visit kacb.org.

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League of Women Voters Natural Resources Committee

The mission of the League of Women Voters Natural Resources Committee is to preserve Florida’s land, and ensure that citizens in Alachua County have clean water and air. The committee collects, reviews, analyzes, interprets, and disperses data for public education. Their initiatives include forums on climate change and renewable energy, the Zero Waste Gainesville campaign, the Ready for 100 campaign, and awareness campaigns for solar installations and electric vehicles. To learn more, visit my.lwv.org/florida/alachua/committee/natural-resources.

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Life Unplastic

In a world full of endless packaging, find yourself a low-waste place. Life Unplastic is a Sustainable Lifestyle Store with solutions and alternatives that will empower you to break free from plastic and excess packaging. Life Unplastic facilitates waste reduction by refilling, reusing, and rethinking modern day consumption habits. Their store includes an assortment of plastic-free items for everyday use, as well as a menu of grocery and household items that can be purchased by weight in re-usable containers. To learn more, visit lifeunplastic.com.

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Our Santa Fe River

Our Santa Fe River, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501-(c)(3) organization committed to protecting our local water resources. Our Santa Fe River is composed of concerned citizens working to protect the waters and lands supporting the aquifer, springs and rivers within the watershed of the Santa Fe River by promoting public awareness pertaining to the ecology, quality, and quantity of the waters and lands immediately adjacent to and supporting the Santa Fe River, including its springs and underlying aquifer. To learn more, visit oursantaferiver.org.

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Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery

Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery (PCCC) is a non-profit community cemetery nestled in a protected conservation area near Gainesville, Florida. PCCC collaborates with Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) to manage, protect, and restore the land for all living things. PCCC is a natural and wild space. You will find a blend of flowering meadows and shaded, breezy forests where people from across the state and beyond have made the choice for a natural burial (also called green burial). By preventing the use of embalming fluids and vaults, those laid to rest at PCCC can return to and become one with the earth. To learn more, visit prairiecreekconservationcemetery.org.

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Repurpose Project

The Repurpose Project is a non-profit community-based effort to divert useful resources from the landfill, redirect these items to the public for art and education, inspire creativity, and help us all rethink what we throw away. In short, they are a junk shop that specializes in material not accepted by traditional thrift stores. They are creating a circular economy for these hard to handle materials. Buying used is good for the earth. Let’s all help protect the planet and buy used! To learn more, visit repurposeproject.org.

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Sierra Club – Suwannee-St. Johns Group

Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with more than two million members and supporters. Their successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. The Suwannee St. Johns Group (SSJ) Sierra Club now has over 2,000 members in 14 North Central Florida Counties – Alachua, Baker, Bradford, SW Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Suwannee, and Union. To learn more, visit ssjsierra.org.

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Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo (SFTZ) strives to improve the future for wildlife, both locally and internationally, by continuing to build partnerships within our community and abroad and develop strategies for supporting wildlife and wild places. In collaboration with conservation partners and Species Survival Plan programs, SFTZ proudly participates in conservation efforts that help save threatened species. Over the last decade, the SFTZ has donated over $70,000 to organizations working on the front lines to conserve wild animals and wild places. Don’t miss their virtual Party for the Planet celebration! To learn more, visit sfcollege.edu/zoo/conservation.

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We Are Neutral

We Are Neutral is a 501(c)3 environmental nonprofit that helps businesses and individuals understand, reduce, and offset their comprehensive carbon footprints, giving them the opportunity to take responsibility for their environmental impact and achieve carbon neutrality. They accomplish this through environmental education as well as hands-on carbon reduction and offset initiatives. Establishing businesses and individuals as carbon neutral leaders allows We Are Neutral to weave sustainability into existing frameworks while directly improving the communities around us. To learn more, visit weareneutral.com.

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Wild Spaces & Public Places Citizen Oversight Board

On November 8, 2016, Alachua County voters passed the Wild Spaces Public Places surtax, an eight-year, half-cent sales tax to acquire and improve conservation lands a​nd create, improve and maintai​n parks and recreational facilities within Alachua County.  Among its provisions was a requirement for citizen’s oversight of the expenditures. On March 28, 2017, the County Commission adopted Resolution 17-36 establishing the Wild Spaces Public Places Citizens Oversight Board. The Oversight Board has met since 2018 to review funding receipts and expenditures by all the sales tax recipients and has handled several issues that arose during their tenure. To learn more, visit alachuacounty.us/Depts/LandConservation.

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Working Food

Working Food is a non-profit organization that works to cultivate and sustain a resilient local food community in North Central Florida through collaboration, economic opportunity, education, and seed stewardship. They work collaboratively with our local government and over 30 community organizations at the intersection of kitchens, commerce, and culture. Working Food provides business development support and infrastructure for food-based businesses; community education on gardening, seed stewardship, nutrition, cooking and other food-related issues; and are helping ensure a just, equitable food system with access to fresh and value-added food for all individuals, institutions, and businesses. To learn more, visit workingfood.org.

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Zero Waste Gainesville

Zero Waste Gainesville (ZWG) is a community group advocating for our city to become Zero Waste by 2040. ZWG views sustainable waste management to solve multiple environmental issues facing our community and beyond. ZWG recognizes that Zero Waste principles are important in reducing the waste that goes to our local landfill and addressing environmental concerns such as climate change, water quality, air quality and energy consumption. This takes not only government planning and policy to achieve, it requires a shift in the mindset and behavior of all members of the community. It requires our local government to start planning now to improve waste management and recycling practices. It involves educating the community about ways to change their daily habits to reduce the waste they generate, and recycle, reuse or compost the rest. To learn more, visit zerowastegainesville.com.