Mayor's Environmentalist of the Year

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2023 Mayor's Environmentalist of the Year 

Craig Grossenbacher has been named the 2023 Mayor's Environmentalist of the Year. Craig has served the community for many years as a top-level environmental manager at the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources (DERM), specializing in water, environmental, and coastal resources. He has worked hard to bring clean water to Biscayne Bay and has helped keep the Village green through his many efforts on the Tree Advisory Board.

2023 Mayor's Environmentalist of the Year photo

Craig is the chief of the water resources coordination division of DERM and is currently serving on the Army Corps of Engineers project delivery team for the planning and design of the Biscayne Bay Southeastern Everglades Ecosystem Restoration project. The significance of his role and the importance of these Everglades restoration projects was highlighted recently by the Miami Herald. Craig was quoted as saying: "We've never done anything on this scale we're talking about today." For 20 years, he has worked tirelessly to bring clean fresh water to Biscayne Bay through several restoration projects and most notably under the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands project through the planning and design of a pump station and spreader canal that recently commenced construction.  This project will rehydrate 1,700 acres of wetlands and three miles of mangrove shoreline just north of Black Point marina, the largest coastal restoration project ever undertaken in South Florida.

His resume is studded with accomplishments, such as overseeing the county's surface water quality, ambient groundwater quality, and the saltwater intrusion of wells programs. His many responsibilities for the county over his career have included oversight of permits to regulate marinas, boatyards, and shipping terminals for the county. He also formerly managed DERM's tree protection and natural forest community regulation programs. He negotiates agreements with the State of Florida to streamline environmental regulation. He shares his extensive knowledge in authoring articles on the Everglades restoration and Biscayne Bay.

I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Craig for several years. He is the vice chair of the Tree Advisory Board and has generously contributed his expertise about trees to the Village. He played a pivotal role in writing and editing our proposed Village Tree Preservation and Protection Ordinance. At last year’s County’s Tree Giveaway event, there was Craig helping out at the tent for those who needed assistance loading plants in their cars.  He is a faithful advocate and organizer for his neighborhood next to Deering Estate, always making sure that residents are aware of issues affecting them.

There is no question that Craig loves the water. He is a US Coast Guard Licensed Captain and a Certified SCUBA diver. Just in case anyone gets in trouble in the water, he is trained to help in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and being a Diver's Alert Network Oxygen First Aid Provider.

For Craig's devotion to our community, its water, and its trees, he is 2023 Mayor's Environmentalist of the Year.

2023 Mayor's Youth Environmentalist of the Year 

Luca Martinez is a nature and wildlife photographer and videographer from Miami, FL. It was likely destined, as when he was a little boy Luca wanted to be outside from sunrise to sunset. He couldn't wait to be in nature and growing-up in South Florida meant he could be outdoors almost every day of the year.

Luca Youth Environmentalist

His love for ospreys took him to the Everglades where he's been shooting regularly for the past three years. Lost for hours and days at a time, he draws inspiration from the subtropical wilderness among the grasses, cypress trees, and wildlife. Luca spent months wading through remote cypress domes and sloughs. It was the crystal-clear water and vibrant green aquatic plants that kept him going back. But only seeing it from above wasn't enough. His curiosity took him below the surface where he realized the world underwater in the Everglades is just as extraordinary and alive as its dry reflection.

Luca has introduced the beauty of a rarely experienced Everglades to more than 100 million worldwide viewers through viral cinematic videos on social media. When he's not out in the field, Luca gives talks about the wonders of the wetlands where he takes the audience through his experiences diving in cypress domes and photographing wildlife.

Luca is deeply passionate about inspiring his generation and others about the importance of preserving our South Florida ecosystem. He hopes to be doing this forever. Luca has spoken around Miami to students and adults alike.  He has volunteered to speak to the Deering Estate and the 100 Ladies of Deering in April among other groups.  He has also spoken to a 1000 people last year at a special Earth Day assembly at Palmer Trinity School.   He has done short documentary films showing the importance of the Everglades and has done presentations at Palmer Trinity and elsewhere to share his excitement about nature and conservation.  When he’s not out in the field, Luca gives talks about the wonders of the wetlands where he takes the audience through his experiences diving in cypress domes and photographing wildlife.

Luca is an extraordinary young man whose work should be recognized therefore, is 2023 Mayor's Youth Environmentalist of the Year.   Here's a look at his instagram page. 

Recognition & Media Appearances:

  • Oceanographic Magazine Issue #28, A Different Kind of Wild; Byline, LucaMartinez. January 2023
  • NBC Nightly News Kids Edition with Lester Holt, January 19, 2023
  • Recognized among 28 Youth Voices Making a Difference. EvergladesFoundation Magazine (Cover Feature), 2022
  • “A Teenage Photographer… with a Goal of Preservation” Flamingo Magazinefeature article
  • WSVN Channel 7 Spotlight Segment, Nov 2022
  • FOX Weather interview, Wild, August 2022
  • Interview on WLRN, Sundial, Wildlife Thursday, April 2022
  • “National History Museum Youth Photographer of the Year” two-time finalist
  • Center for Great Apes Photography Contest Winner and Exhibition 2019

About the Award

The Mayor's Environmentalist of the Year is an annual program which recognizes folks who make significant contributions to the environment.  This could be an individual, a group or a business in Palmetto Bay.

Eligibility Requirements

An individual, group or business that has made an outstanding contribution to environmental activity and leadership in the Village of Palmetto Bay. The contribution may demonstrate achievement through volunteerism, leadership and/or other services considered extraordinary in nature. To be considered for the award, all recipients must complete and submit the nomination form by the deadline date explaining how the contributions have made a significance to the community. The submittal of environmental activity photographs is optional.  

Recipient Recognitions

Winner receives:

  1. a plaque
  2. dinner for two
  3. a tree-planting ceremony
  4. Publicly announced during the Village's Earth Day event and recognized with a Tree Planting Ceremony on National Arbor Day on April 21st.

Winners from Prior Years

2022 environmentalist

2022 Pam Reid and Jack Fell
University of Miami - Palmetto Bay Residents

2021 Environmentalist of the Year Leo Llinas

2021 Leopoldo LLinas
Palmer Trinity School

Henry Clifford

2020 Henry Clifford
Community Advocate for Trees & Plants

Eric Tullberg

2018 Eric Tullberg
Community Advocate for Environmental & Bikeway Issues


2019 Jennifer Tisthammer
Deering Estate

2019 Chris Bumpus
Deering Estate

2019 Vanessa Trujillo
Deering Estate