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Stephens honored with Young Professional Award from Florida Lake Management Society
June 28, 2016
Dr. Dana Stephens, director of the Mattie M. Kelly Environmental Institute and chair of Environmental Sciences at Northwest Florida State College, has received the inaugural Young Professional Award from the Florida Lake Management Society (FLMS).
“The Young Professional Award is presented to a young lake management professional who exhibits exemplary professional accomplishments and a commitment to water resource protection and management of our lakes and watersheds,” according to the FLMS.
The award was presented in early June during the FLMS’s 27th annual Technical Symposium in Daytona Beach Shores. Stephens – who joined NWF State College in 2015 after 10 years at the University of Florida as a graduate and doctoral student, post-doctoral researcher, and instructor – did not know she was receiving the award until she was at the symposium and saw a printed program containing the award winners’ names.
“It was a complete surprise,” Stephens said. “This means so much to me. I respect the society and those individuals, so it means a lot that they would award me that honor.”
Ironically, when she had first learned that the FLMS was establishing a new award to recognize young professionals, Stephens recalls thinking that it was a good idea. Little did she know she would be the first recipient.
Stephens grew up in Minneapolis and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While working at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, she realized how much she enjoyed working in the environmental sciences.
After she began her graduate studies at Florida, she got involved with the Florida Lake Management Society while still a student. She served on its board of directors in 2007, and later served on the board of the North American Lake Management Society, the FLMS’s parent organization.
Also at Florida, she became involved with the university-coordinated Florida LAKEWATCH program, training volunteers to participate in this statewide citizen water monitoring system. The program comprises 1,800 water monitoring volunteers from the Alabama-Florida line to the Florida Keys, and the data they collect throughout the state is used by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
With a year at NWF State College under her belt, Stephens said the Environmental Institute will soon begin surveying fish communities and vegetation in the area’s coastal dune lakes and will continue to work closely with the college’s Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance conducting research and monitoring of local waterways.