The environmentalist and advocate was recognized for working toward the restoration of Lake Apopka.
Jim Thomas knew he was being recognized, but he had no idea that his name would be emblazoned across the front of the main building of the Oakland Nature Preserve.
On Saturday, Feb. 16, the Jim Thomas Environmental Education Center was dedicated in front of Thomas, his family and dozens of friends and fellow conservationists.
Thomas has advocated for the restoration of Lake Apopka since he founded Friends of Lake Apopka in 1991 and was instrumental in the forming of ONP in 1997.
The special ceremony included remarks by Oakland Mayor Kathy Stark, who read a proclamation declaring Feb. 16, 2019, Jim Thomas Day in the town; former Oakland Town Manager Dennis Foltz; Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who was a state senator and represented West Orange County in the 1990s when FOLA advocated for the lake’s restoration; FOLA president Jim Peterson; former FOLA president Jack Amon; and Dr. Erich Marzolf, director of the Division of Land and Water Resources for the St. Johns River Water Management District.
Thomas spoke, as well, calling the naming a very big honor.
“I hope we are going to just keep working,” he said. “I don’t want any of you to let up; we’ve got things to do. … I couldn’t be more proud of what’s happened here and seeing it happen has kept me going for years.”