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T. Terrell Sessums Award

The T. Terrell Sessums Award was created in honor of T. Terrell Sessums, a lifelong advocate, supporter and environmental steward of Tampa Bay.

The award is given each year to a person in Tampa Bay who demonstrates strong leadership, integrity, public service and environmental stewardship; a person who has made/is making Tampa Bay a better, safer place to live and play. These are the traits PSR Florida felt Mr. Sessums displayed during his many years while serving in the Florida legislature and later as Speaker of the House. Mr. Sessums was raised in Jacksonville, FL and briefly served in the U.S. Air Force. He received his law degree from the College of Law at the University of Florida in 1958. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1963, served as Speaker pro tempore from 1968-1970 and Speaker of the House from 1972-1974. He had the vision and courage to pass legislation to establish the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission (EPC). He is a man of integrity, vision, courage, strong character and leadership who cares deeply about the people and environment of Tampa Bay and Florida.

1st Annual-2009

(Dr. Donna Petersen, Dean, USF College of Public Health, with Mr. Sessums-naming the award in his honor.)

(Kevin Platt and Mr. Terrell Sessums)

Kevin Platt receives the Sessums Award in 2009 for his mother; Jan Platt-who was ill and unable to attend the award ceremony.

Jan Kaminis Platt is a native Floridian born in St. Petersburg. After attending University of Florida, University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University for postgraduate studies, Jan ran for public office and was first elected as a Tampa City Council Member from 1974-1978 before being elected to serve on the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, where she held office from 1978-1994 and 1996-2004. As an active County Commissioner, Platt has fought to protect the environment, keep government honest, and assure balanced, managed growth. As avid fisherman, Jan was a driving force behind the creation of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's Agency on Bay Management, the Environmental Land Acquisition Program (ELAP), and Tampa Bay's selection into the National Estuary Program. In 2010, Jan was awarded Humanitarian of the Year by the Florida Head Start Association, and was recognized with the Herman W. Goldner Award for Regional Leadership by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. The Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library was dedicated to her and opened to the public in 2000.

2nd Annual-2010

(Terrell Sessums-Roger Stewart-Dr. Don Mellman)

Roger Stewart: Mr. Stewart was director of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) for 14 years. Roger worked tirelessly to protect wetlands, reduce toxic emissions and preserve Tampa Bay. Roger, a World War II veteran, was part of a cadre of Greatest Generation figures who made a considerable difference in the lives of Tampa Bay residents. He always spoke the truth on behalf of the environment, never ducked a battle or wavered in his principles. His integrity was above reproach. Sadly, Mr. Steward died in August 2014 but his moral courage and mark on Tampa Bay lives on.

3rd Annual-2011

(Dr. Don Mellman, Mary Figg, Dr. Lynn Ringenberg, Dr. Donna Petersen)

Mary J. Figg: Mary was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1982, and served for five terms.  During her time in the FL legislature Mary was involved with the passage or funding of numerous laws to protect the environment: mandated standards for treatment of sewage being discharged into certain west coast bodies of water, licensed the use of gill nets in the Tampa Bay area, provided dollars for research on sea grass planting in estuarine areas, regulated shrimp fishing in Tampa Bay to name a few. Following her time in the legislature, Mary served as administrative faculty with the Chiles Center of the USF College of Public Health. She was the Principal Investigator for two successive Robert Wood Johnson grants to assist the state of Florida with its implementation of the Child Health Insurance Program, known as Florida KidCare. Mary has extensive public service activities to include founding member of the Child Abuse Council, President of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County, member of the Basis Board and Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and charter member of the USF Art Museum. Mary received her BA in Psychology and MPH from the University of South Florida. Mary is the daughter of a fourth generation Floridian whose father taught her early in life a respect for the land and water.

4th Annual-2012

(Jan Platt, Mary Figg, Joe Guidry, Terrell Sessums)

Joe Guidry: Joe is a Tampa native who has worked continuously as a journalist since starting as a part-time sports reporter at the afternoon Tampa Times while a student at the University of South Florida. He was transferred to the Tampa Tribune in 1982, joined the Tribune's Editorial Board in 1984 and became the editorial page editor in 2008. Environmental stewardship has always been a passion of Joe's. He spearheaded a series on Saving Tampa Bay and helped defeat proposals to build a marina in pristine Cockroach Bay and a power plant that planned to be constructed near one of the most prolific stretches of the bay. He promoted efforts to restore the Everglades, revive the Hillsborough River and sought to protect Hillsborough's wetland protections from legislative attack. In 2010 Joe received the Aldo Leopold Award for Distinguished Editorial Writing from the Wilderness Society for his defense of natural Florida.

5th Annual Award-2013

(Marion & Peter Clark)

Peter A. Clark is the founder and President of Tampa Bay Watch, a non-profit environmental stewardship program established in 1993 to restore and protect the Tampa Bay estuary using community volunteers. Under his watch, the organization has coordinated more than 100,000 volunteers installed 10,000 oyster reef units and 1,200 tons of oyster shell to create more than two miles of oyster shell reef communities and planted more than 1 million salt march grasses to restore 200 acres of coastal tidal ponds to Tampa Bay. Until 1993, Mr. Clark served as Director of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's Agency on Bay Management, an alliance of agencies charged with protecting the Bay. Peter has a B.S. in Marine Biology and over fifty professional publications on natural resource restoration, water quality and environmental planning.

6th Annual Award-2015

Tampa native and former Florida Governor Bob Martinez was the recipient of the 6th Annual T. Terrell Sessums Award in recognition of his state and community leadership, high standards and environmental stewardship. He began his career as a Hillsborough County classroom teacher in 1957, and later became the executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. In 1975, he became owner operator of the Café Sevilla Spanish Restaurant and was appointed to the Southwest Water Management District board by Florida Governor Ruben Askew.

Bob Martinez was elected Mayor of Tampa in 1979. As Mayor, he revitalized Tampa's downtown district, promoted economic development initiatives and annexed the University of South Florida and thousands of acres north of the university. Major capital projects included the Performing Arts Center, Convention Center, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, restoration of the historic City Hall building and the McKay Bay refuse to energy solid waste plant. He proposed and led the initiative to have a countywide library system and supported the countywide funding of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority. He was a member of the Tampa Aviation and Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authorities. In 2008 he co-chaired with Jan Platt the successful Hillsborough County referendum campaign to pass a bond issue for up to $200 million for the Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program. This program was later named for Jan Platt (First T. Terrell Sessums award recipient).

Mayor Martinez was elected Governor of Florida in 1986. While Governor, he was recognized for his Preservation 2000 land acquisition program. Preservation 2000 became the largest government conservation land acquisition program in the nation. (read more about Governor Martinez)

Keynote speaker Mark Z. Jacobson, PhD Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University presented "Roadmaps for Transitioning all 50 US States to Wind, Water and Solar Power for all Purposes" See Dr. Jacobson's presentation here.
Page Updated December 11, 2015