For being “a leading voice for the environment, and for inspiring a generation of Floridians,” Audubon Florida honored New College’s Julie Morris as its 2012 Florida Woman in Conservation.
Morris, assistant vice president of academic affairs, received the award at the organization’s annual meeting in October 2012. Audubon recognized her two decades of public service, including 10 years on Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and nine on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. She currently serves on the federal Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission.
Morris also has worked on many local, state and national environmental groups, including the Myakka Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the Council for a Sustainable Florida, Florida Native Plant Society and the Crowley Museum and Nature Center.
Her career began at New College of Florida, where she graduated with a degree in biology in 1974. She and husband Jono Miller, also a 1974 graduate and now assistant to the vice president of finance and administration, went on to head the Environmental Studies program for 22 years.
Throughout her career, Morris has been known for “adherence to good science, for advancing common-sense solutions for wildlife, and for wielding education as a fierce policy tool,” said Julie Wraithmell, Audubon’s director of wildlife conservation.
Wraithmell was a junior staff member at the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission during Morris’s tenure, and said she also was an important role model to her and her colleagues. “As a young woman starting out in the conservation field, it was inspiring to have Julie there,” she said.
As a commissioner, Morris said, her key role was pushing for bringing sportsmen and environmentalists together to recognize they had a shared interest in preserving habitats and species. “Hunters, anglers, birders, wildlife watchers, hikers, paddlers, cattle ranchers – we all have really deep roots in Florida and a really strong passion for conserving Florida’s wild lands,” she said in accepting the award.
During her tenure, the commission worked on science-based management of Florida panther, bear and manatee; a strategic plan to identify and protect crucial wildlife habitats, and a robust watchable wildlife program, including the Great Florida Birding Trail.
While on the Gulf of Mexico council, she and her colleagues developed management plans to end overfishing of red snapper and other reef fish; reduce by-catch of sea turtles and non-target fish, and establish commercial catch share programs.
Morris told the attendees that she was honored and grateful for the award: “Florida is just such an awesome place for conservation work. We have wildlife encounters that take your breath away, and we have habitat devastation that breaks your heart, and we have conference halls that are full of people who are passionate about preservation.”