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Charlette Roman and Gene Lollis addresses Junior Cattlemen’s Association volunteers

The Florida Cattlemen, Cattlewomen and Junior Cattlemen’s Association held their annual convention on Marco Island this past week in part to celebrate 500 years of cattle in Florida. The association and cattle industry are about family, heritage and caring for the land, wildlife and water that is so precious to them. Carrying this deep seeded value from their ranches throughout the State to the Island, resulted in a group of caring young cattlemen and cattlewomen to contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and volunteer to help remove exotics from the Rookery Bay Snail Trail.

Donna Young serves as Volunteer Coordinator for the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Before the Cattlemen arrived, she emphasized the importance of staying hydrated and protected from pests and exotic plants. She also warned about the heat and hard work associated with exotic plant control. “We are used to long hours outside caring for our animals and controlling exotics on our ranches every day. Our ranches provide habitat for a significant amount of threatened and endangered species, including wetlands and uplands. We love the land and that includes helping the State manage the Rookery Bay Reserve. We are hoping to learn more about the Reserve but also show that we care about the environment and are all in this together” said Junior Florida Cattlemen’s Association volunteer coordinator Allyson Trimble.

The young adults cleared the trail for approximately four hours on Thursday, June 17, 2021, and were rewarded with a visit by South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board Member and Big Cypress Board Chair, Charlette Roman and Florida Cattlemen’s Association’s President, Gene Lollis.  “What a great group of kids that would give up part of their free time at the beach to provide a much-needed community service. I remember when the AmeriCorps came and did the same work on the trails in association with a visit from President Bush in 2004. I can’t express how happy I am to see such selfless volunteerism alive and well today especially from visitors to the area,” noted Charlette Roman. Gene Lollis thanked his organization’s youth and told them how proud he was of them for transferring their home ranch values to improving the environment on public lands. “We really need to work together on the issues facing our great State and agree that people moving into and living in Florida have changed our natural resources.  Only great planning and cooperation will maintain the benefits that our ranches provide while improving and protecting the quality of our natural resources as Florida continues to grow.” 


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