The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Defender of the Everglades award is presented annually to a person with exemplary commitment to Friends of the Everglades’ mission to preserve, protect and restore the only Everglades in the world. This award acknowledges the recipient’s significant contributions to the world of Everglades restoration and highlights someone who embodies the spirit of our founder, Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

This year we honored Theodora Long. A respected and dedicated environmentalist, Theo serves as the Executive Director of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center — a nonprofit organization that shares heritage with Friends of the Everglades in that it was founded by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1969. 

Theo’s esteemed stewardship was fostered in part by a longstanding friendship with Marjory. She speaks fondly of their years of camaraderie, deep conversations that inspired action plans for impacting various environmental legislation and visits with Marjory that often ended with urgent calls to the Governor. It is Marjory that Theo credits with instilling her understanding that there is a great need for civic engagement and a personal responsibility for affecting change. 

The lessons impressed on her by Marjory persist in her work for the Biscayne Nature Center, where Theo remains dedicated to environmental education and the encouragement of greater citizen participation in the protection of our natural environment. As Friends of the Everglades board president Phil Kushlan stated when presenting Theo with the award at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Legacy Luncheon on December 5, 2022, “Theo has in a literal sense bridged the gap between Marjory’s message and spirit and passed that on to thousands of young people in Miami.”

The next generation of environmental advocates in South Florida will be stronger because of her influence. We are thankful to Theo Long for all that she’s done and all that she continues to do. Please join us in honoring her as our 2022 Defender of the Everglades award recipient.