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Have you ever wondered how you ended up where you are? Have you pondered the chain of events that contributed to your path and destination? I’ll admit that I have always spent a great deal of time considering such things.

Early years

Though having lived over half a century, my residences have been few, all within a couple miles from each other. I can count every vehicle I’ve ever owned on one hand, and my airboat has not changed since 1972. I married my high school sweetheart and have had one job. I am proud to say that for over thirty years I have been employed at Applied Aquatic Management.

I grew up on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, entrenched in the sportsman’s lore of the KCOL, wanting to be nowhere else and never wavering from what I would describe as something akin to a divine, passionate and abiding love for this area I call home. I truly don’t remember catching my first fish or frog, or going on my first camping trip, as there were so many. My love for the outdoors and a desire to work in that environment are what led me to Applied Aquatic Management.

In pursuit of happiness

It has been said that, to truly be happy, find something you love to do and find a way to make a living doing it. Well, for me, working at AAM has been it. At first, it was simply to work “in” the environment. In the decades since, my exposure to what we do on behalf of the environment has solidified my job satisfaction. I’m not just happy to be here, I’m proud of our work history and what we do at AAM.

In this modern age of information sharing it seems that tales of environmental woes are everywhere. Natural disasters and fallout from them, water shortages, floods, toxic algal blooms, fires, earthquakes, a warming environment, hurricanes, tornadoes, famine, disease, etc., abound. And for every issue there are plenty of activist groups passionately working to stem the tide and at least do their part to alleviate the problems. I understand and applaud the enthusiasm of the individuals working toward their respective missions.

Environmental stewardship

In my private life I have spent considerable efforts working with environmental groups to accomplish such goals. I am a past president of the Kissimmee River Valley Sportsman’s Association and a past regional director of the Florida Wildlife Federation. I am also a past president of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society. As stated, these are past positions, and, as their former custodian, I was recently asked,

“What have you done for us lately?”

Having pondered that question at length brings me to this note:

What we do every day at Applied Aquatic Management is in some way, shape or form related to environmental restoration and management.

In some cases we may be directly working to restore a natural area that has been previously disturbed. In others we may be helping to maintain an area that was disturbed for reasons of flood control or necessary infrastructure. And, in doing so, through direct interaction with the maintenance programs, we are able to do our part to ensure that those programs are carried out in the most environmentally sound manner possible.

At AAM, our track record speaks for itself, and it is exhaustive.

We have worked to control exotic and invasive vegetation, such as melaleuca, on hundreds of thousands of acres of Everglades Conservation Areas, Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Park, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and countless other smaller, but no less important, projects throughout the State of Florida. We have worked to further refine and improve control of nuisance species, such as water hyacinth, throughout the state, a program that has been ongoing for a century and remains more necessary today than ever. We work daily to control nuisance and non-permitted vegetation in stormwater retention ponds to ensure they function as designed and prevent flooding in the areas they service.

The list and the amount of work goes on and is impressive to view as a compilation, but one thing remains constant through our efforts:

In everything we do, it is our desire and duty to fulfill our tasks within the letter of the law, because we not only work here, we live here. And in my case, it has been for my entire life.

Kissimmee Chain of Lakes is my home, and I am grateful for my part in the management of the system. I am thankful for the opportunity to help ensure that it is done correctly. I am confident in the science that guides us, and am appreciative of the solace that the understanding and knowledge of this environment brings me.

That is, after all, how I ended up here.

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