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District names Anne Rudloe 2020 'River and Bay Champion'

HAVANA – The Governing Board for the Northwest Florida Water Management District today named Anne Rudloe the 2020 winner of the River and Bay Champion award.

The award is given posthumously to Rudloe, a long-time scientist, author, educator, and conservationist who co-founded Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratories, Inc., in Panacea. Jack Rudloe and sons Sky and Cypress and their wives and children accepted the award.

The award is presented annually to recognize individuals who make significant contributions toward the restoration and protection of the river and bays in northwest Florida.

“Anne Rudloe’s passion for conservation and education throughout her career earned her national recognition,” said George Roberts, the Chairman of the District’s Governing Board. “But her biggest impact may be found in the thousands and thousands of children who learned about marine biology from touring the Marine Lab she founded in Panacea. No doubt, there will be scientists of tomorrow who discovered their own passion for learning thanks to Anne Rudloe’s work.”

Born in Ohio and raised in Virginia, Rudloe landed in northwest Florida as a graduate student at Florida State University where she earned her master’s degree in Oceanography in 1972 followed by a PhD in Marine Biology in 1978.

In 1980, Rudloe founded the Panacea Institute of Marine Science and she and her husband, Jack, founded Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratories, Inc., in 1990 as a non-profit teaching laboratory. It is believed more than a quarter-million school-age children have toured the Marine Lab where they were introduced to the creatures that inhabit the bays in northwest Florida.

Rudloe authored five books, including “Priceless Florida,” and had articles published in national publications as diverse as National Geographic and Sports Illustrated. Her work to help conserve wetlands in the Big Bend area of Florida led to her winning the National Wetlands Award for Education and Research by the Environmental Law Institute in 2014.

Her contributions as a scientist, educator, author, and conservationist led to the formation of the Anne Rudloe Environmental Education Center where her work will inspire others to become champions for the protection of the rivers and bays across northwest Florida and beyond.

"My family and I are deeply honored to accept this award on behalf of our wife and mother. Anne dedicated her life to teaching the next generation about the importance of our ecosystems using our local bays and rivers as her classroom,” Jack Rudloe said. “Through her teachings at the FSU Center for Professional Development and Gulf Specimen Marine Lab she provided a voice for our coastal areas and helped to grow Champions of the future. We are proud to continue her legacy through our work every day at Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Panacea."

The Rudloe family was presented with a plaque and a “River and Bay Champion” bowl with a permanent nameplate memorializing Anne Rudloe’s selection as the 2020 winner. The bowl will remain on display at the Northwest Florida Water Management District’s headquarters.

Winners of the River and Bay Champion award:

2018: Senator Bill Montford
2019: Graham Lewis
2020: Anne Rudloe