By Katelyn Massarelli

Constant negative coverage of the environment issues and how the problems are the result of human impact has the power to discourage people from trying to repair the lost ecosystems or restore the lost species. For the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, they see it as motivation to get the community involved by gearing up for the first Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge.

In June, the kick-off program and lunch for the challenge took place to announce the conservation projects that will be completed during the challenge. The goal is to get 100 conservation projects completed during the challenge. Schools, organizations, and businesses all over Hillsborough County will be able to contribute by identifying an environmental problem they have noticed and find a solution to it.

According to Executive Director for the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, Betty Jo Tompkins, the challenge will involve groups coming together from urban, rural, and suburban communities to conquer environmental issues seen in all types of areas in the county.

“[The Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge] was designed to teach the communities how to use good conservation,” Tompkins said. “We take the environment for granted and we hope this will open people’s eyes.”

Just under 40 organizations already have committed to contributing at least one conservation project this coming April 2017. Naui Green Diver Initiative is one organization who will participate in the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge. Project Manager for Naui Green Diver Initiative, Sam Richardson, was one of many people to speak about the upcoming conservation project they would be taking on for the challenge. Being a new comer to Florida, Richardson attended his first Gasparilla this year and noticed the amount of beads making their way into the water.

“[Naui Green Diver Initiative] are interested to see how the beads interact with the water and research solutions that don’t involve taking away the beads,” Richardson said.

The Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge will be taking place April 22-30, 2017. Call 752-1474 ext. 3 or email Tompkins at

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