CORAL SPRINGS, FL – When she was living in a small town in Connecticut in the 1970s, Stephanie Pearson had to bring trash from her home to the town’s dump -- which was literally a “pile of garbage,” she recalled.
The future Coral Springs resident, then a young woman interested in the working of government, was troubled by the sight.
So she delved into learning about regulations to find out what could be done to prevent the dump from contaminating the area.
Eventually, the state got involved and pushed to line the dump.
Pearson can’t take much credit for that, but the experience was an eye-opener and spurred a lifelong interest in fighting pollution, supporting clean water initiatives, and educating others about climate change.
“I’ve always enjoyed nature, but I was disturbed by toxins, pollution, negligence, and waste,” she said.
Now 71 and retired from a career as an enrollment agent for H&R Block, Pearson is still deep in the environmental fight, pushing these days for stronger recycling and solid waste policies, among other issues.
From her Coral Springs home since the mid-1980s, she has organized candidate debates, studied issues, and lobbied elected officials as a decades-long volunteer for the League of Women Voters.
“I find it rewarding,” she said. “I like educating the public and being involved in activism.”
For her efforts, Coral Springs officials recently honored Pearson for “her environmental sustainability efforts in Coral Springs, Broward County, and Florida.”
Commissioner Nancy Metayer considers Pearson an “extraordinary leader” who has been involved in all levels of government in pushing for a “cleaner and safer environment.”
“Her perspective on realistic approaches to addressing climate change has set an example for those she continues to mentor and lead through many of the organizations she’s involved with,” Metayer said.
Pearson has served as the president of Broward League and director of natural resources for the Florida League. She’s also been on vital water-quality committees at South Florida Water Management District and Broward County.
Her work is far from done, she said.
“More and more people are interested in climate change these days, but we still have a long way to go,” she said. “We have to work with a lot of businesses. You have to keep pushing. It can be tiring and there are setbacks. But you have to keep pushing.”
In the coming months, she’s hoping to work closer with Coral Springs officials on local environmental issues, as the city creates a “sustainability office” focused on conservation and “eco-friendly” efforts.
“This office will make a huge difference,” Pearson said. “There will be a lot of awareness and new priorities. And that’s a good thing.”
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