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The political aspect of Florida’s environment is the topic of the exhibit in room 218. Florida’s beautiful and complex ecosystems stretch from the Keys to Pensacola and represent some of America’s most valued and varied natural treasures. For most of the 20th century, the lack of knowledge about Florida’s environment influenced political decisions. Topics in this room include: Everglades Preservation, Off-Shore Drilling, Water Wars, The Cross Florida Barge Canal and Invasive Species.
Two prominent and early environmentalists in Florida were women, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and May Mann Jennings. Living to the age of 108, Marjory Stoneman Douglas started advocating Everglades protection in the 1920s and became one of the world’s most powerful voices for the protection of natural ecosystems. Her book, The Everglades: River of Grass, published in 1947, elevated her to celebrity status and represented a pioneering effort for protecting nature. May Mann Jennings was president of the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs, and a member of the so-called “Old Girl Network.” Mrs. Jennings persuaded the Legislature to accept 960 acres to create Florida’s first state park, which later became part of Everglades National Park.
In 1902, this room was the main office of the Adjutant General who was in charge of the Militia or National Guard of the state. It was also used as a committee room when the Senate was in session.