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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112,


~Awards recognize hard work and innovation of department staff~

TALLAHASSEE  The Florida Department of Environmental Protection was recently awarded 12 Prudential Productivity Awards. The Florida Tax Watch’s Prudential Productivity Awards is a privately initiated program designed to recognize and reward state government employees whose work measurably increases productivity and promotes innovation in ways that improve service delivery and save Florida taxpayers money.

The department received two, Team $800 Notable Cash Awards; six, Team Plaque Awards; two, Team Certificates of Commendation and one Individual Certificate of Commendation. Additionally, the department's awards coordinator, Robbie Yarborough, was named Awards Coordinator of the Year.

"We are very fortunate to have world-class employees at the department who are innovative and motivated to finding creative solutions to protect Florida's environment," said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. "We strive to find ways to preserve and restore our ecosystem in a fiscally responsible way, and this recognition proves our employees are doing just that."

The following is a list of awardees and their achievements.

Team Awards

  • Notable Team $800 cash award for optimization of the department’s vehicles. The team used data to determine that a number of department vehicles were sitting idle and not efficiently being utilized. To increase efficiency, the team created a dashboard to monitor fleet usage and costs, reduced the fleet by 19.5 percent and centralized the management of vehicles, which resulted in a cost savings of nearly $600,000. Team members: Valerie Lacy, Leon Scott, Randy Greene, Gwenn Godfrey, Kathy Nelson, Sean Webster and Julie Ferris.
  • Notable Team $800 cash award for the Monroe County injection well variance team who provided a total cost savings between $375,000 and $525,000 for well owners and an additional $34,500 for the department by eliminating an unnecessary rule that required the injection well owner to pay a surveyor to certify the location of their abandoned injection wells. This information is duplicative of what already exists in department files. Team members: David Rhodes, Abdul Ahmadi, Devon Villareal, Joe Haberfeld, Cathleen McCarty, Gustavo Rios and Jack Chisolm.
  • Team plaque award for the Northeast District’s Office of Water and Wastewater permitting team for achieving a 65 percent reduction in its time-to-process permits by streamlining processes while providing a higher level of outreach and service to the regulated community. Team members: Jeff Martin, Dung Vo, Dean Setiono, Joe Emery, Sam Schllesinger, Jennifer Lyles, Kim Pearce and Amulya Mehta.
  • Team plaque award for the Anclote Key solar upgrades team for making improvements to a state solar electrical system that increased its efficiency resulting in 88.9 percent fuel savings. This will also provide future cost savings due to increased battery life, decreased fuel usage and decreased engine run time, which allow the engines to last longer and substantially decreases carbon emissions. Team members: Michael Lang, Rick Coosey, Monika Partridge, Chris Berner, Dan Ambrose, Todd Andrews and Craig Blackwood.
  • Team plaque award for the HAZWOPER Training team that established an in-house, 24-hour initial training and 8-hour annual refresher course to replace training previously contracted outside the agency, resulting in estimated cost savings of $81,080 for the department and similar savings for participating local agencies. Team members: Jeff Loflin, Jeff Waters, Kenton Brown, Jennifer Waltrip, Neil Hornick, Jamie Arleo and Jennifer Paris.
  • Team plaque award for the department’s safety advisory board who spearheaded two initiatives, “Safety – First, Last and Always” and “Workers’ Compensation and Return-to-Work,” which created a more safety conscious work environment. These safety initiatives provided combined cost savings of $826,132 through the reduction of workers compensation and liability insurance premiums. Team members: Jeff Loflin, Kim Bundage, Paige Fenner, Lynda Watson, Rockal Archie, Neil Hornick, Tony Tucker and Mike Zavosky.
  • Team plaque award for the department’s Office of Environmental Education team that created the “Build, Operate, Transfer and Sustain” service delivery model, which increased the efficiency and feasibility for increasing science-based environmental education in Florida, providing $428,296 in cost savings and increased federal funding. The program brings middle school students to Florida state parks to learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) which increased continuity in environmental science education programs. Team members: Greg Ira, Lauren Penny and Jackie Zimmerman.
  • Team plaque award for the Florida Green School Network team for transforming the loose affiliation of organizations into a formal partnership to recognize, support and assist schools in adopting practices that conserve natural resources, promote sustainability and reduce operating costs. This continues the gross cost savings in the public education arena to the taxpayers of Florida – generating a cumulative total of $66 million in just five years. Team members: Romina Sola, Greg Ira, Tim Center, Penny Taylor and Sandra Whitehead.
  • Team certificate of commendation for the Herbert Hoover Dike permitting team for consolidating 16 individual permits into one comprehensive permit to replace or remove 16 of 32 culverts that were in critical need of repair or replacement. The single permit provided a savings to the state of an estimated $40,000. Team members: Deinna Nicholson, Tanja Hinton, Stanley Ganthier, Jerilyn Ashworth and Paul Julian.
  • Team certificate of commendation for the submerged lands and environmental resources coordination YouTube team who produced “Eco-Vignettes,” which are short, topic-specific videos that focus on topics such as biology, ecology and hydrology, and field-based environmental assessment techniques to explain basic concepts to viewers and applicants with little to no experience or knowledge of environmental and wetland ecology. These “Eco-Vignettes” did not require costly editing and thereby saved the state $28,361 in production costs. Team members: Heather Mason, Scott Casey, Sarah Kell and John Humphreys.

Individual Awards

  • Robbie Yarborough received the prestigious $5,000 Coordinator of the Year award, which recognizes one agency coordinator who demonstrates a true devotion and service to their organization and to the Prudential Productivity Awards program. Robbie has served as DEP's awards coordinator since 2007 and devotes more than 200 hours to the program each year. She has worked to enhance the visibility and prestige of the award and personally reviews each nomination to ensure it is of the up most quality. In the seven years that Robbie has overseen the program, 222 nominations submitted by DEP have been selected to receive an award, including 6 Eagle awards, 5 Distinguished cash awards, and 12 Notable cash awards.       
  • Andrea Small, awarded certificate for efforts in coordinating with a donor to erect a commemorative display to recognize the first siting of the continental United States by Juan Ponce De Leon’s navigator. This project provided increased access to a public beach, established a state historical marker discussing the history of the siting, erected an educational kiosk and a 16-foot tall bronze statue of Ponce de Leon. The commemorative display is valued at more than $175,000, none of which was funded by Florida tax dollars.