UF Law Student Comes Home to Reach Out to Future Generations
John Henry November plans to devote his law career to protecting the natural environment, particularly in his home town of Atlantic Beach in Duval County, which has some of the most pristine marshland in the state of Florida. But the first-year University of Florida law student knows that his conservation efforts must reach out to future generations— helping them to develop an awareness of how precious and vulnerable these lands are—for his quest to meet with success.
That’s why he headed home recently to speak to the children at Atlantic Beach Elementary School about the special place in which they live.
The school assembly was part of Marshfest 2006, a community-sponsored event to raise awareness and funds to aid the city’s pending acquisition of Dutton Island Preserve, a 346-acre parcel of marshland on Atlantic Beach’s western border. The project was spearheaded by November and fellow conservationist Lyman Fletcher, an attorney in Atlantic Beach.
“Children need to be made aware that the environment is something we need to protect, and that it’s not just a given,” November said. “I told them about the waterways, and that they live on a barrier island. I explained that to preserve the character of Atlantic Beach, it’s important that we protect not only the ocean, but the marshlands and the Intracoastal Waterway as well.”
Now a first-year student at UF Law majoring in environmental law and land use, November’s interest in conservation began in his undergraduate days at UF, where he majored in political science with a minor in environmental studies.
“As a college student I started to cherish the naturally beautiful places in Florida, and I began to understand how important it is to protect these places,” said November, who plans to live out his life in Atlantic Beach.
His solid commitment to conservation landed November the first internship of the Public Trust Environmental Law Institute of Florida in May, 2005, and in January of this year he became the organization’s new development coordinator.
As November’s awareness of the politics that often surround conservation issues grew, so did his realization that lip service wouldn’t preserve the Dutton Island Preserve from development. That’s when November and Fletcher decided to take action.
In July 2005 they co-founded the Marsh Preservation Society, with Fletcher acting as chairman, and began their grassroots camcampaign to keep the Dutton Island Preserve intact by having the city purchase it with help from state funding. To date the state has pledged 75 percent of the purchase price. When the appraisal is completed the city of Atlantic Beach will pitch in the remaining 25 percent.
“Our organization isn’t against development,” November said. “We’re against unwise development. There are special places in Florida that need to be protected because they’re one of a kind, and it’s not fair that these should disappear, preventing future generations from enjoying them.”