Our mission is to present environmental films and educational events that advocate for broadening our knowledge of environmental issues impacting Florida.
Elizabeth Pickett Gray
Elizabeth is a third-generation Floridian who grew up tromping through the backwoods and ranchlands of Florida on horseback and navigating Florida’s waters coast-to-coast, boating and free diving in the clear blue waters. She started the Florida Environmental Film Festival when she moved back home to Sarasota after working in the film industry in Los Angeles and Martha’s Vineyard. She is a founding board member of Martha’s Vineyard Community Television.
“I grew up when the Gulf of Mexico smelled like an ocean, backwoods waters ran clean and clear, and the sound of sweet wildlife rang in my ears. Coming home, I found worsening conditions of red tide, spills of phosphate, dead fish on the water’s edge, spring waters polluted, our precious ranch-lands being sold, our beautiful wildlife starving, with nowhere to go… We are now at a pivotal moment in time in Florida. We are the last generation that can change the damage being done to our great state before it’s too late…
Given my background in films, it made sense to give back to Florida what I’ve learned throughout my life. The many newcomers to our state have probably not witnessed the changes in Florida's biodiversity. We need to educate them as well as busy native Floridians. We can do this through the power of films, and through conversations with speakers, filmmakers, and scientists about our biodiversity, our culture, and our growing eco-consciousness. With an exchange of ideas from all types of people, we can come to solutions, broaden our knowledge of Florida’s biodiversity, and protect the Florida we all love. And on a global level, we can help protect the world we love.
I surround myself with people who are brilliant and passionate about the environment, and I bring them together to collaborate and create synergistic solutions to problems we face. Together we make things happen. I’m sort of like the wizard of OZ, I’m the person behind the curtain.”
Sabrina is a native Floridian, archeologist, bandana enthusiast, and environmental educator for a regional land conservancy in Sarasota County. Her love of the land and passion for ensuring that it remains accessible to those who need it most has brought her to the Florida Environmental Film Festival in 2020 with the hopes that people new to the state are compelled to lend a hand in saving Florida's landscapes, legacy, and inhabitants before it's too late. Sabrina served for two years in the Florida Conservation Corps after completing her BA in Anthropology with a specialization in Archaeology at the University of West Florida.
"A lot of people move to Florida because they want to live close to water, or close to something beautiful. I get it. But I also understand that I live in a place with some of the deepest income inequalities in Florida and that directly correlates with who gets to enjoy our beautiful state, and who is most impacted by increasingly frequent natural disasters here. For me, this film festival is not only about reminding people what we have here, but what we risk losing if we continue treating all of these beautiful things like they aren't a community asset. Not just for one community, but for every community. We all share those consequences, equally or not. My hope is that, through the myriad eyes of filmmakers, we're reminded that nature is for every bird, bug, and child, and it inspires people to protect it as our neighbors' lives depend on it. Because it does."
David C. Lewis, Ph.D.
David joined The Florida Environmental Film Festival in 2019. He is a retired professor and former Associate Dean of Architecture at Mississippi State University. David previously taught at the University of Florida and Georgia Tech, and he was a Visiting Studio Master at Cambridge in the UK. His research interests include Ancient Greek Architecture as well as sustainability issues affecting Southern architecture.
“For me, environmental sensibility is a moral responsibility. Having visited Florida since the 1950s and as a permanent resident for almost seven years, I wish to live out the remainder of my life in awe of Florida’s splendor rather than be worried about its survival.”
Jazmyn is the Executive Director of Circus & Traveling Shows Retirement Project, a non-profit organization founded to assist show people with age or health problems in their search for affordable housing in the Southwest Florida area.
She is the former Treasurer of the Board of Showfolks of Sarasota. She has owned an accounting business for 42 years. Jazmyn joined the Florida Environmental Film Festival board in 2019.
“As a native Floridian, I grew up playing in the waters, from tree swings to boating in St. Johns, the Keys, all over the springs and camping everywhere in Florida. Back then I could eat all the fish I caught, but that was yesterday. I've watched how Florida has changed over the years and I want to help establish environmental change through knowledge to benefit Florida's ecosystem.”
Andy has a master’s degree in environmental science, concentrated in environmental economics and policy. He is the author of Polluting for Pleasure, the book that led directly to the extinction of twelve million two-cycle outboard motors, and stopped the discharge equivalent to 5 Exxon Valdez oil spills each year into American waterways. He was Executive Director of Clearwater, the Hudson River environmental group formed by folk singer Pete Seeger in 1966, and won the 30-year battle with General Electric over its massive PCB spill in the Hudson. Currently, he is the Suncoast Waterkeeper, working for the protection of coastal ecosystems, to halt phosphate strip mining and untrammeled development in Florida and to bring red tide back to pre-development levels.
Jamie Hooks Outdoors
"I’m a 4th generation Sarasota county native. I grew up on the water and have spent the last 45 years exploring the water sources of our state and achieved my goal of paddling every river and tributary in it over that period of time. I’ve paddled our coast lines on both east and west coast and major lakes. For the past 20 years I have been a full time fishing and kayak adventure guide covering trips in the Everglades to river trips on the upper Suwannee out of Georgia down thru north Florida. My life is our water."
Professor of Environmental Studies
Ringling College of Art and Design
Ringling College of Art and Design is the Coordinator/Developer of Environmental Studies where he teaches courses on water, environmental science, sustainability, creating ecological cities, applied environmental design, food, biodiversity and environmental ethics. He is also a Coordinator for Sustainability in Design Education for CUMULUS (a global association of colleges of art, media and design) and a frequent lecturer at other colleges and for community organizations. As a trained field biologist, Tim has done research on Marine Mammals, Pelagic Birds, Bats, Habitat Restoration and Land Planning. He has been involved in a variety of interdisciplinary projects in the U.S. and Africa involving habitat restoration and protection, green infrastructure, local food production and sustainability.
Taylor grew up as an outdoors woman on the Gulf Coast of Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Florida, specializing in Biomedical Studies, Environmental Science, and Entrepreneurship. As a member of the Student Sustainability Alliance at UCF, she spearheaded sustainability efforts campus and community-wide. She earned a doctorate degree in Naturopathic Medicine from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. In 2016, during the Standing Rock water crisis, Taylor joined the movement in Cannonball, North Dakota. Creating an organic farm in Venice, Florida is her most current project. Through the FEFF, she hopes Floridians will be inspired to care for our natural resources.
Michael St. Hilaire
Retired Cinematographer in the motion picture and television industry. Over 50 years shooting major motion pictures and television. Member of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600 of the IATSE. Has served on the National Executive Board of the ICG for over 40 years; as a national officer from 2007-2016. I am a native of Los Angeles, California, moving to Longboat Key, Florida in 2005. Interested in sharing education and seeking solutions to our many environmental challenges.
John T. Krotec
US Army Veteran, Community Organizer, Podcast Host
John has a bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management from Florida State University.
"As a small business owner, US Army veteran, community organizer, podcast host, and visionary, I understand how important water quality is to maintain for Floridians and for our visitors. I grew up in Sarasota, and have seen both commercial and residential growth taking place place in my community for the past 50 years. I understand how fragile AND how important water is to the Florida eco-system. Without quality water, we run the risk of compromising our public health. A healthy community is a sustainable community. Simply stated: without maintaining high-quality drinking water, we cannot survive. I advocate finding solutions (not creating conflict) to the challenges of land development and its impact on water.
B.S. in Health Sciences, with completion of the Pre Med program, a Masters in Metabolism, four years in the Pharmaceutical Industry and certified as a Functional Medicine Educator.
A local business owner of 12 years and a native Floridian, Jennifer has surfed on every surfable coast and passionately loves the ocean for its ability to heal, calm, and nurture. With her business located a block from one of the most popular destinations in the world, Siesta Key Beach, her livelihood depends upon the health of the ocean. By becoming an active committee member with the FEFF, Jennifer intends on raising social awareness and stewardship.The declining health of our oceans and the delicate intercoastal waterways locally are at stake and need focused, diligent attention. When the latest environmental disaster is fresh in everyone’s minds, there is a momentum for change that is often quickly overshadowed by time.
Sean is a biologist with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from New College of Florida in Sarasota. Sean moved to Florida from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and joined the Florida Environmental Film Festival in 2020. He is the owner of Stocking Savvy Environmental Consulting, a company that promotes the use of biological controls and environmentally-friendly methods of controlling nuisance plants, insects, and nutrient runoff, with the goal of habitat restoration, lower maintenance costs, and healthier living in the sunshine state.
“Red Tide, Climate Change, habitat loss, urbanization, extinction. Too many people look at these massive problems and feel hopeless. The environment many people love to fish, walk and enjoy is rapidly fading away and I won't stand for it. I have studied the biological systems of Florida for many years and now work passionately to restore them, and to build developments and communities that work with the environment, not against.”
Both a director and cinematographer, has directed commercials for Ford, John Deere, Maxfli, Toyota, Hilton Hotels, UPS, Merill Lynch, AT&T, Fosters, Gateway, Disney, GM among many other leading advertisers.
Having worked on every continent and under every condition and time restraint, Toby is a director who knows his craft inside out, a recognized touch that included him and Kodak tribute to 100 of the worlds finest cinematographers.
He’s active in films, television and music videos, his credits include Madonna‘s HBO special Girlie show, the Rolling Stones, Voodoo Lounge special for Showtime and LTLC’s Waterfall video, which one MTV’s video of the year award in 1995. He’s more than two dozen movie credits include Madonna‘s truth or dare, as cinematographer and Edward Scissorhands for which he shot the opening title sequence.