A Tribute to Dave Addison

By Kathy Worley, Conservancy Director of Environmental Science

In 1975, Dave was hired by the Conservancy as a naturalist at the Briggs Nature Center and by 1982, he was running the place. He was an educator, teaching kids about nature and he even wrote an environmental resource manual for Collier County school teachers.

He helped design the Nature Center when it became established off of Goodlette-Frank Road and by 1985, he took the title of biologist, back when the Conservancy of Southwest Florida was known as the Conservancy Incorporated.

He worked in the Environmental Protection Division, where he lent his expertise not only to science, but to policy, land acquisition and land management. In 1988, he finished up the National Area Inventory Study where he documented an occasional pot plant in South Golden Gate Estates and met a lot of really interesting characters. By 1989, he had finished up a mosquito study with Scot Ritchie, where many a time he asked unsuspecting visiting researchers like Tom Smith, to come out on the mosquito study without any bug spray and these researchers were forever grateful to Dave for the experience.

Dave also was instrumental in getting Water Turkey Bay declared an Outstanding Florida Water. He was also involved in the Picayune Strand Restoration Project since the beginning — from working to acquire the land, attending to many meetings to count, and of course the more fun stuff, field work for the Southern Golden Gate Estates project, Fakahatchee project, and the Picayune Strand Restoration projects where he monitored everything from inverts to mammals and who could ever forget about the ants! Dave also got us into the golfing business. As the rest of us went around categorizing and sampling ponds Dave was often out looking for golf balls.

But likely what Dave is famous for is that for over 25 years Dave has been Mr. Sea Turtle. Anybody who is anybody in the sea turtle biz knows Dave and thinks very highly of him for his sea turtle research and his willingness to help out others when they need help. Dave has represented the Conservancy at many Sea Turtle Conferences where he was lauded for his contributions to the scientific research. An impressive amount of his past Conservancy sea turtle interns have made a career out of sea turtles and are active contributors to the scientific community. This is a tribute to Dave Addison. His mentoring ability (myself included) and his passion for sea turtles is infectious. His record in this field of study elevates the Conservancy to the National and even International level. His willingness to share his research and help out other researchers has generated population statistics, information on areas that turtles prefer to habituate in between nesting cycles (i.e. areas to be protected to keep the population viable, genetic information, nest temp, and too many too list).

I have worked with Dave for over 20 years where we have lasted through many presidents and different ways of leadership. His historical references are invaluable and he continues to teach all of us many things involving research and how to conduct oneself in life. From 2006 to 2011 he was the co-director of science with me, and in 2012 decided to step down and work part time — supposedly only on the turtle project. However in true Dave fashion he works way overtime and not just on the turtle project which is up and running again this year. Dave is an amazing person and has often stepped back into his co-director role assisting me with some hard issues and lending me his ear when I need advice.

On April 10, 2017 the new research facility was named Dave S. Addison Sea Turtle Research Station in honor of a man who has dedicated his career to researching and protecting sea turtles that nest on our beaches each summer and this honor could not have gone to a more deserving person.

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