Michael Adams, one of the top conservationists in Florida, graduated from Gannon University in 1979 with his bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in anthropology. Mike was a student-athlete playing on a community soccer team and intramural football and basketball teams. He was also a member of the Tri-Beta Honor Society for Biology and the Lambda-Alpha Honor Society for Anthropology.
Considering a class to compliment his biology curriculum, Mike decided to enroll in Professor Jude Kirkpatrick’s anthropology class because he “heard it was easy.” Instead of getting his easy class, it turns out he almost switched his major because of the impact Professor Kirkpatrick made on him. Dr. John Fleming and Professor Stanley Zagorski were also among his favorite professors. He states that, “their passion for their subjects was contagious and motivational for students to learn, understand and succeed.” Mike has many favorite memories of Gannon such as late night study sessions at Nash Library, hitting up Dominick’s Restaurant for a meatball and cheese omelet, spending the cold winter months running in the gym and enjoying the men’s basketball and women’s volleyball games.
Following Mike’s Gannon days, he’s had an illustrious 37-year environmental career consisting of Florida state government, consulting, and several combinations in between. Currently, Mike is a conservation biologist with Defenders of Wildlife, a national non-profit advocacy organization focused on protecting imperiled wildlife, their habitats and biodiversity. His focus is on Southeast US (Florida) animal species ranging from beach mice to whales, including manatee, sea turtles, panther, black bear and the gopher tortoise.
Mike works out of his home office, which is fitting because he and his family live on 94 acres of conservation land, outside St. Augustine, strategically located along the St. Johns River. He calls the place Saturiwa, named after a powerful Indian chief of the now extinct Timucua Tribe. He has worked diligently to restore the former longleaf pine forest after hundreds of years of resource exploitation on the land. Longleaf pine takes between 100 to 150 years to become full size and can live to be 500 years old. In the process of restoration, he has become a dedicated conservation advocate known to community members, forest owners and schools. Saturiwa is full of wildlife, including many rare and protected species. Mike enjoys giving tours and educating school-aged children the most about the land, wildlife and conservation because he gets to show his passion in a more animated and exciting way, allowing him to nurture interest in his work. Together he, his wife, Carole, and his father built the home and surrounding buildings on the property. Mike has secured several grants from the US Departments of Agriculture and Interior to assist with his work. He has self-published a regional field guide, has been featured in “Country Living Magazine” and has received numerous professional awards.
In his free time, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and son traveling and doing mostly anything outdoors. Every few years he gets a visit from his lifelong friends, Dr. Ronald Pollock, Psychiatrist, who resides in Anchorage, Alaska, Jeffery Hamilton, a high school teacher in Boulder Colorado and Dr. Kenneth Ricci, a physician outside Atlanta, Georgia. All these men were Gannon classmates who used to join Mike at Dominick's for their midnight omelets. He returns to his Erie homeland every couple years and always visits the Gannon campus on his way to Dominick's.
Mike’s message to current and future Gannon students is: “You don’t have to be the model student, just have an interest in what you do. Learning is a life-long journey, it never stops. Listen more than you speak and think before saying anything. Work on your self-confidence, be adventurous and always have a sense of wonder.”
*To get a glimpse of Mike’s past and current work at Saturiwa visit his website HERE or the Saturiwa Facebook page.
(published March 2017)