Miami Visionaries Awards environment finalists

Environment visionary: An individual who is leading environmental preservation or awareness through his/her work or volunteer activities.


Here’s what their nominators wrote about these finalists.

▪ Art Friedrich, president of Urban Oasis Project

▪ Rachel Silverstein, executive director, Miami Waterkeeper

▪ Eduardo Varona, environmental activist

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Next category: Government


Here’s what their nominators wrote about these finalists.

Art Friedrich is committed to keeping locally grown food accessible and affordable to all. As head of the Urban Oasis Project, a Miami-based nonprofit, Friedrich makes it his mission to connect farmers and eaters. At the Upper Eastside Farmers Market, which Friedrich helps organize every Saturday at Legion Park, vendors accept EBT cards that allow low-income recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) to buy local fruits and veggies for half-price. Other local markets also participate in the discount, provided by Florida Organic Growers.

Rachel Silverstein: Executive director and waterkeeper for Miami Waterkeeper; a true champion for the environment in South Florida. She took on leadership of the organization in June of 2014. In a very short time, she has lead it through remarkable growth from a quiet nonprofit to a powerful organization that is punching well above its weight class. As waterkeeper, Rachel is part investigator, scientist, educator and legal advocate, functioning as a public spokesperson for our Bay, protecting our right to clean water and empowering Miamians to defend our waterways. Rachel as already shown strong impact on our environment. For example, she led a successful lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers for $400,000 to save threatened corals from the Government Cut dredge. She is also creating a research and outreach program with $117,000 from NOAA.

Eduardo Varona: Eduardo is a tireless environmentalist, protecting rare and precious coastal wetlands and native ecosystems of Miami-Dade County. In 2006, Varona began working to protect 100 acres of restorable wetlands in Cutler Bay. This resulted in the South Florida Water Management District purchasing and preserving this land as a component of Everglades restoration. Eduardo has spent the last decade in the field helping to organize hundreds of volunteers in restoration efforts, which includes clearing the lands of invasive species and re-introducing native plants necessary to ensure that our land and ecosystems continue to thrive and flourish. Recently, Varona spearheaded successful efforts to organize a coalition of concerned residents in Cutler Bay who opposed the further development and up-zoning of land, which could have jeopardized the globally imperiled Pine Rockland, which can only be found in small parts of Miami-Dade and Monroe County.