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Introduce yourself!

September 7, 2011

Hi SEJ Keys tour participants!

I hope we can introduce ourselves so that we can have more fun on our trip. This could also help you pair up with a hotel roommate.

And perhaps you could also say a little bit about what you’re looking forward to on the trip.

I’ll get the ball rolling. I’m Bruce Ritchie and I work in Tallahassee as a reporter covering environmental issues at the state Capitol for The Florida Tribune and for my blog.

I’ve been to 13 SEJ conferences beginning in 1992 in Ann Arbor, Mich. I have long anticipated an SEJ conference in Florida and I became involved in the Miami conference back in January as I helped get the Cuba post-conference tour started. At that time I also suggested having a Keys trip as a way for conference attendees from around the nation see this slice of paradise.

I’ve been briefly to Key Largo and that’s it, so I look forward to seeing Key West. I hope the tour is both informative and relaxing. I’ve only been snorkeling on coral reefs a few times so I look forward to any chance I can get.

My wife, Sue Ellen, will be my roommate. She’s been to at least seven SEJ conferences and still is willing to go on the post-conference tour. Feel free to contact me at or 850-385-1774.

Please, introduce yourself!


From → Uncategorized

  1. Nancy B permalink

    Hi. I’m Nancy Brendlinger. I teach journalism at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) and have recently joined SEJ (I attended the last two conferences). I’m on sabbatical this year and my project is to develop environmental journalism curriculum for BG. In previous lives I have been a reporter, editor, photographer and farm editor for the Muscatine (Iowa) Journal and a Peace Corps volunteer in Chad and Senegal. I like to live and travel abroad as much as I can, and my latest in-depth activity has been working the past three years on a friend’s three-year grant that combines BGSU, University of Manouba (Tunisia) and Algiers University working together on environmental communication education.

    I’m looking forward to the trip to the Keys a lot. I have only been snorkeling once long ago, and will admit I am not particularly brave when it comes to physical activities. But it will be good for me! I’m also looking forward to the energy of travelling with environmental journalists and learning a lot — about the environment and journalism. In preparation for the conference, I am reading the 50th anniversary edition of The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1947, 1997).

    As to roommates, I am not a smoker, but don’t care if you are, as long as you don’t smoke in the room. I can guarantee you that I don’t snore because I use a C-Pap machine, for which my husband is grateful.

  2. Hi Bruce, Nancy and other Key West enviro tourista/journalists.
    Charlotte Kidd here from just outside Philadelphia. My first SEJ conference was Boston, 1995. Whew! Al Gore, E.O. Wilson, Harvard – what a way to begin. Have come to as many as possible since – as well as the post-conference tours. These days horticulture, arboriculture, sustainable gardening and living tend to drive my environmental writing- as mid-Atlantic Regional Editor for the National Gardening Assoc. ( and writer for Pennsylvania Gardener magazine. Am eager to explore the Keys from environmental AND in-the-water perspectives. Perhaps was a pansy and a porpoise in previous lives. I also have an organically-oriented ornamental gardening business that this summer included lush volunteer tomato plants in perennial and shrub beds. Yum! Installed a thriving urban native plant meadow along Lincoln Drive in Philadelphia. Am big on sustainability, microbes- healthy soil – healthy plants…. In The Garden Design, Care & Workshops includes hands-on coaching and teaching. Want to do ethnobotany projects.

    Bruce, sorry to say I can’t be a kayak partner this time. Knees not cooperating. Have fond memories though of you trying to take pics of endangered sea otters in Elkhorn Slough while I tried to keep the boat steady. Oops….

    See you in mid-October.

    Charlotte Kidd, M. Ed.
    For In The Garden Design, Care & Workshops, see
    For A Way With Words and writing, see; National Gardening Assoc. Mid-Atlantic Regional Editor
    Society of Environmental Journalists
    Garden Writers Assoc.
    Environmental Journalism Fellow @ National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kaua’i, Hawaii 2008

  3. I’m so excited to be on this tour! The focus of my work is migrating from agriculture, especially poultry, to marine issues. We live along the coast of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Marine Protected Areas in California.I’ve been an Elephant Seal docent at Piedras Blancas since 2007 (blog at and became a Marine Mammal Center rescue volunteer in 2011. My article on the investigation into the shooting of three seals in 2008 won third place in the Reported Narrative category of the 2011 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

    I was an Environmental Journalism Fellow at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, as was Charlotte a couple of years later.

    My first book, How to Raise Chickens, was published in 2007. A revised edition is being prepared, to be available in 2013. In response to HTR Chickens’ success, I wrote How to Raise Poultry, 2009. Both focus on raising traditional breeds in small flocks. I currently keep four hens: a White Dorking, a Sicilian Buttercup, a Partridge Rock and a Speckled Sussex and blog about poultry issues at I’m a frequent contributor to Backyard Poultry magazine, Exhibition Poultry magazine, Hobby Farms, Hobby Farm Home, many others.

    I have written about business, engineering, golf courses and law schools as well as poultry and other animals. I am a contributing editor to Diversity/Careers in Engineering and Information Technology,

    I’m especially looking forward to snorkeling in the Keys. My goal is to learn more about how Marine Protected Areas are working there and how marine mammals are faring.

  4. Hi All,
    I’m looking forward to this! I’m even warmed up, having recently returned from snorkling Maui. I’m currently a freelance environment reporter who contributes to print and broadcast media, especially California public radio stations. I’ve also dabbled in horticultural writing, especially for the Home section of the Los Angeles Times. For a decade I was staff environment reporter for LA’s NPR news station.
    A couple links:
    I’ve attended most SEJ conferences since 1999, and (infamously) served as a co-chair of SEJ awards.
    I have a four-year-old boy who loves sea turtles and is envious of our itinerary.
    As to roommates, I’m a social critter but need my sleep. I’d say I turn in early, except I’ll be on PST.

  5. Jessica Marshall permalink

    Hi all,
    I’m Jessica Marshall, a freelance writer based in St. Paul, Minnesota. I’m a regular contributor on the environmental and earth beat at Discovery News:

    It’s my first SEJ conference, but I’ve been to Florida and Key West before… but not with an opportunity to explore its nature.
    Looking forward to combining learning more about the area with a chance to snorkel, hike and other activities I’ve loved in the past but haven’t had time to do in a long time.

    I lived for seven years in the SF Bay Area and spent a year in Santa Cruz, so many of the places others of you have mentioned are familiar to me.

    I’ll be leaving my 2.5-year-old twins at home with my husband to attend the NASW and SEJ conferences back-to-back, so this trip is a bit of a professional splurge on my part. Not sure whether to make some comment about missing them or about my giddy anticipation…

  6. Hi, I’m Carole Brown, a Conservation Biologist from Philadelphia, PA (Charlotte I think we may be neighbors, I live right off of Lincoln Drive at Johnson St.) I’m an author, educator, speaker and avid birder and butterfly watcher.

    I firmly believe that wildlife conservation begins in our own backyards and developed Ecosystem Gardening to teach people to garden sustainably, conserve natural resources, and create welcoming habitat for wildlife in their gardens so that they will attract more birds, butterflies, pollinators, frogs and toads, bats and other wildlife to their wildlife gardens.

    I distill the research from such fields as ecological restoration, urban wildlife, wildlife management and conservation, green roofs and living walls, sustainable landscaping, children’s connection to nature, healing gardens, and more and make it accessible to homeowners who want to learn to make healthier environmental choices in their gardens.

    I created and am now the managing editor of Beautiful Wildlife Gardens, which has a team of 10 wildlife gardeners from around the country so that we can share more regionally appropriate information.

    I also created and am managing editor of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens, which is a team of 30 published authors and popular bloggers from around the country.

    This will be my first SEJ conference, and I’m really looking forward to meeting all of you. I’m also eager to visit the Keys again. It’s been 6 years since I last birded there.

    I can be found at the following places:
    Ecosystem Gardening:
    Beautiful Wildlife Garden:
    Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens:

    See you in October!

  7. mcoconnor permalink

    Not only have I never been to the Keys, I’ve never been to Florida or an SEJ conference. I’m pretty psyched.
    I’m been a freelancer for about four years but have been focusing more on environmental issues in the past couple years.
    My background is in adventure sports writing (got my start in magazines with an internship at Outside) and more recently I’ve done a lot of trade mag writing, covering technology and sustainable business practices.
    But I’m keen to learn more about conservation efforts and marine issues. Regarding snorkeling, I’m giddy with anticipation. I’ve done a lot of kayaking but have always been more of a mountain person than a water person.
    I live in San Francisco and have, as of late, been helping Erica Gies with her enviro news startup This Week in Earth (
    I really look forward to meeting you all and benefitting from your deep experience in environmental issues and journalism!

  8. Catherine Puckett permalink

    I’m a long-time SEJ attender — the first one I attended was in 1997, I do believe. It’s a healthy addiction. I am a public affairs media specialist at the national office of the U.S. Geological Survey, covering the “ecosystems” beat (and everything that lives in ecosystems too). I am really lucky because I telecommute from Gainesville, Florida. Like Bruce Ritchie, I also went to the University of Florida (Go Gators!) J-School, but a lot longer ago than he did. I studied both wildlife ecology (reptiles and amphibians in particular) and journalism. I have been to the Keys — I learned to catch crocodiles there! — but that was two decades ago (I moved back to Florida six years ago after 20 years away). I am very excited about seeing the Keys again, meeting my fellow sojourners, and learning more about the Florida keys’ ecosystems, the challenges they face, and of course, snorkeling! In my non-USGS life, I also do nonfiction science writing and fiction writing — I just finished an essay called Beauty and the Beast (about eastern diamondback rattlesnakes) and am writing an ecological mystery set in Florida. I have two grown children (and a 3-year-old grandson) and a nearly 16-year-old daughter at home.

    • Hannah Hamilton permalink

      I’m Hannah Hamilton, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey living in Northern Virginia. I used to live in Gainesville, Florida, and am a graduate of University of Florida’s J-School. Each winter that I pass in Virginia, makes me miss Florida winters more and more. Although I lived in Florida for over 10 years, part of that time doing field work studying freshwater mussels, I never made it to the Keys, so I am looking forward to learning about the environmental issues that affect those small islands and what is being done to address them. Like Nancy I’m returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Burundi), and enjoy quilting as my current creative outlet.

  9. I added a review of Craig Pittman’s book, Manatee Insanity: Inside the War over Florida’s Most Famous Endangered Species, to my elephant seal blog, I look forward to connecting with Craig at the conference.

  10. Trimmel G permalink

    Hello Everyone!
    I’m Trimmel Gomes and I’m very much looking forward to my first SEJ conference!
    I’m the News Director at Florida Public Radio/WFSU-FM in Tallahassee, so in addition to overseeing and making sure that we’re covering a host of other topics, I sometimes get to run around with Bruce tracking environmental issues…
    I’ve been to the Keys several times. I went to Key West some time ago to do a story on Coral Reefs then while working on a series about Florida’s parks, I went to Key Largo and returned in 09 when I was a fellow at the Scripps Howard Institute on the Environment.

    You can follow me on twitter, though I’m hardly on the thing:
    And I’ve been way too busy to create anything else but you can check out my station’s website:

    See you soon and go Gators!

  11. Hi everyone! I’m Cheryl Reifsnyder and this is my *second* ever SEJ conference–and a very exciting one for me, since I have a particular interest in marine wildlife and coral reef environments. In my previous life, I was a molecular biologist, but for the past decade or so I’ve worked as a freelance writer. I write primarily for children’s publications, so I will be looking for kid-friendly topics during our journey together.

    I spent quite a bit of time in Florida as a child–family in the area–but never in the Keys. These days I live in Boulder, CO, far from the ocean, with my husband, two teenage boys, and a small menagerie of critters. You can find me online at (my brand-new, still-in-progress WordPress site) and on Twitter as @CherylRWrites (although, like Trimmel, I’m not on that much!)

    I look forward to meeting you all!

  12. Michelle Lalonde permalink

    Hello. I’m Michelle Lalonde, environmental reporter for the Montreal Gazette. The Gazette is Montreal’s major English Language daily newspaper, and I have been working here for 20 years, 11 of them on the environment beat.
    My only experience of Florida is a couple of visits to Disney World, so I am looking forward to broadening my impression and seeing more of the natural Florida. My sister, Lisa Lalonde, will be joining us on the tour as well. She is a family doctor who lives in Ottawa, Ontario.
    We are both very excited about the trip! À bientôt!

    • Bruce Ritchie permalink

      Hah, only visits to Disney World. Ironically, I’ve lived in Florida for 23 years but have never been to Disney World. This should broaden your experience, but it also will be different from North Florida. I look forward to seeing everybody soon.

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