Dan Dawson, co-owner with wife Mollie of Key Largo’s Horizon Divers, certified by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary as an environmentally responsible Blue Star operator, discovered his passion for diving at an early age. Today, he’s energized by seeing kids and young adults learn about the Keys’ environment and its protection.
Michelle Nicole Lowe, one of the Florida Keys’ best-known artists, paints colorfully whimsical and expressive wide-eyed marine life, wild birds and multi-hued flora and fauna. Through her artwork, the fifth-generation Keys resident promotes conservation of the island chain’s natural life — sea turtles, tarpon, herons, indigenous creatures, subtropical florals, mangrove hammocks and more.
Erin Allison has been executive director of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center Inc. since June 2023. Though just 26 years old, she is a dedicated Keys nonprofit leader who’s big on achievable goals. They include broadening the organization’s local outreach through education and by holding public releases of rehabilitated wild birds.
Terry Helmers is a Florida Keys volunteer extraordinaire. His underwater specialty, as a volunteer and as a NOAA- and national parks-authorized diver, is mooring buoys. The dedicated Helmers has logged about 800 volunteer hours with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and more than 2,300 at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
Mill McCleary, executive director of the Reef Relief organization based in Key West, uses advocacy and organizational skills to create tangible impacts through clean water and healthy ecosystems. He has overseen Reef Relief’s establishment of Key West Marine Park, founding of Coral Camp for Kids, and recent Plastic Free Key West program.
Sue Cooper, a Florida Keys paddleboard guru and author of “Millionaire in Flip Flips,” is the face of Lazy Dog Adventures — known for its slogan, “We do more in a week than most people do all day.” But don’t be fooled by that slogan; Sue is brimming with business acumen and motivational concepts.
Cindy Lewis, director of Keys Marine Lab on Long Key, is a woman of diverse talents. A respected specialist in marine biology and coral restoration, she is an American Academy of Underwater Science diver and a National Association of Underwater Instructors dive master. She also plays the French horn with a concert band.
Artist Taylor Hale, a Florida Keys native raised in Key Largo, has come home. Hale is known for his stunning ethereal works of clouds and surreal scenes of the Keys’ natural world, mostly on and around the water. He recently unveiled an Islamorada gallery to display his artistry, with a second coming soon.
Billy Litmer is the founder of Key West’s Honest Eco tours, specializing in wild bottlenose dolphin-watching and nature charters. Designer and builder of the island’s first lithium-ion battery-powered hybrid charter boat with electric motors, he shares his love for the Keys’ wildlife and environment with guests — inspiring them to cherish both.
There’s no better way to celebrate the Florida Keys’ 200th birthday than with Key lime pie, the island chain’s luscious signature dessert — particularly if that Key lime pie is the world’s biggest! And there’s no better PLACE to celebrate the auspicious anniversary than at Big Pine Community Park, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.