President Theodore Roosevelt is credited with the founding of America’s National Park system, and making land conservation a core American value. Every year, Audubon Florida recognizes a conservationist who has made significant contributions to conservation in Florida.
This year’s 2021 Teddy Roosevelt Award winner is Eric Draper for a career of leadership on behalf of Florida’s environment. Draper will retire at the end of 2021 as head of the Florida Park Service where he oversaw the addition of iconic new parks ranging from Gilchrist Springs to the Bluffs of St. Teresa. Previously, he served as Executive Director and Policy Director for Audubon Florida, with accomplishments for Everglades restoration, water resource protection, land conservation, and more.
Eric Draper has served as the Director of the Florida Park Service since 2017. Under his leadership, Florida State Parks became the first four-time winner of the National Recreation and Parks Association’s Gold Medal for Excellence. Florida’s 175 state parks and trails and 1,000 employees each year provide more than 32 million unique visitor experiences on more than 800,000 acres of the state’s best managed conservation land, while also generating more than $3 billion in annual economic value.
Draper has devoted his life to conservation, having previously served as the President of the Florida Audubon Society, Senior Vice President for Policy for the National Audubon Society, the Florida House of Representatives Majority Office staff director, and The Nature Conservancy’s Florida government relations director.
During his 35-year conservation career and prior joining the park service, Draper was a leading advocate for water and land conservation and Everglades restoration. He is credited with helping secure billions in new conservation and restoration spending and playing a role in most state environmental policy decisions.