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About the Award

The Charles E. Bennett Champion of the Environment Award was first established at the Florida Coastal School of Law and was given out by the Law School for three years. After the Law School reorganized, the Environmental Protection Board was approached to continue giving this award in honor of Jacksonville’s Original Environmental Champion.

The Charles E. Bennett Champion of the Environment Award seeks to highlight and acknowledge an individual who has exhibited, over a long-term, professionalism, diligence and an unwavering commitment as a Champion of the Environment in protecting or preserving the natural resources of Duval County.

Past Winners include:

  • Congressman Charles Bennett
  • Walt Bussells - JEA
  • Neil Armingeon - St Johns Riverkeeper
  • Linda Bremer - Sierra Club
  • Dr. Todd Stack - EPB
  • Robert Schuster –EPB
  • Mark Middlebrook - Preservation Project
  • Mayor John Delaney
  • State Senator John Thrasher
  • Barbara Broward - EPB
  • Richard Maguire
  • Warren Anderson
  • Barbara Goodman
  • William "Bill" Brinton

2018 Charles E. Bennett Champion of the Environment Award

The 2018 award was presented to the Honorable John Crescimbeni at the EPB-UNF Environmental Symposium held on the campus of UNF on September 14, 2018.

For almost 30 years, John has addressed the need for, and been in the forefront of, protecting Jacksonville’s natural resources and scenic beauty.  He has served over 17 years on the Jacksonville City Council, during which time he has been a leader in environmental issues, including tree protection, visual pollution, recycling and river protection.  John co-founded Citizens for Tree Preservation, Inc. in 2000, after the City Council weakened the City’s tree protection ordinance to largely exempt residential developers. He led the petition drive by citizen volunteers to collect the needed signatures to place a Tree Protection Charter Amendment on the November 2000 ballot. That successful citizens’ initiative restored protection for trees, including those on property slated for subdivision development. The amendment passed by a three-to-one margin, prevailing in every single precinct in Duval County.  John’s commitment to tree preservation has continued. After litigation was filed challenging the use of the City’s Tree Protection Trust Fund, John was a key member of the group that successfully negotiated a settlement of the lawsuit. Following through on his successful settlement efforts, John agreed to serve on, and chair, the newly-created Tree Commission.  

A strong supporter of the 1987 Billboard Charter Amendment, John has fought to protect the City’s visual environment and has resisted efforts to weaken the City’s sign regulations and demanded aggressive City enforcement action against illegal signs. He has been a true leader in the City’s efforts to fight visual blight.  John has been a voice for and defender of the St. Johns River. As a member and Chair of the Waterways Commission he resisted allowing Central Florida to continue to withdraw water  from the St. Johns River.  

John’s activities outside his City Council duties also reflect his support for Florida’s natural resources and scenic beauty. He is a board member of Tree Hill Nature Center and serves as part-time Executive Director of Citizens for a Scenic Florida, which exists to enhance, protect and preserve the visual environment of Florida as mandated by the Scenic Beauty clause of the Florida Constitution.  John Crescimbeni has been a true champion of the environment, has protected and preserved the natural resources and scenic beauty of Jacksonville and Florida.


The Honorable John Crescimbeni accepted the award
from Environmental Protection Board members Amy Y. Fu and Gabriel DuPree.

Honorable John Crescimbeni is joined for photo by the leaders of the groups that nominated him.