Tag Archive for: Polk County

The Board of Directors of LEAD in partnership with Polk County and the City of Winter Haven is happy to announce the inaugural 7 River Water Festival 5k.


Location: Downtown Winter Haven, Florida
Date: Saturday, September 18, 2021
Time: 7:30AM – 9:00 AM

Now taking applications for sponsorship

Evidence points to the fact that children gain their most powerful understanding of their natural environment through exploring it for themselves. However, within formal education, educators are often hampered from facilitating this exploration beyond the classroom by the pressures of the curriculum, health and safety concerns, and restricted budgets.  LE/AD, with help from a grant from the George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation and its fundholders and Polk County Parks and Natural Resources is bridging the gap on this issue by offering a program to youth groups in Polk County.  This program will consist of:

1. A field trip to Circle B Bar Reserve, where the children will participate in many outdoor hands-on activities including dip-netting, hiking and bandana rubbing.

2. Participants in the afterschool program will have the opportunity to enter into a poster contest to describe what they learned during the sessions.  The contest will be judged by members of the LE/AD Board of Directors and the top three selections will be awarded prizes.

Funding Partner

The GiveWell Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity serving Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties in Central Florida. The Community Foundation holds more than 300 charitable funds established by individuals, families, organizations, and private foundations and serves a wide variety of charitable services.

For more than 20 years, the GiveWell Community Foundation and its fundholders have been investing in the future of our communities through impactful, philanthropic giving.


LE/AD will provide programs to community partners with limited budgets in Polk County.  This program would consist of minimum of 10 groups participating in:

  1. An interactive, hands-on learning experience field trip, where the children will participate in many outdoor activities including dip-netting, hiking and bandana rubbing.  They will learn each phase of the water cycle and the importance of water conservation. An on-site hands-on learning experience with the watershed model that shows how fertilizers, pesticides, oil and erosion affect our watersheds. Staff from Polk’s Nature Discovery Center will assist LE/AD with supervision and implementation of this program. 


For their Field Studies visit, each group will take a pre and post test. Follow up will be provided with additional materials sent back to camp locations, and a poster competition will be an elective.

LE/AD would like to thank the Southwest Florida Water Management District for providing educational materials for children participating in this program.


Another successful Cardboard Boat Challenge and Lakes Festival is in the books. Lakes Education Action Drive would like to give a “HUGE” thank you to the City of Lakeland and it’s Lakes and Stormwater Division. Without them, this event would not take place.

On Friday, we got to host Chip Brewster of FOX 13. He came to Lake Hollingsworth to challenge staff members of the Lakeland Magic and Zoey and Mason.

Of course, what makes for quality television is, sinking. And, Chip and the Team from the Lakeland Magic did not disappoint.

On Saturday, about 50 cardboard boats (pre-built and on-site built) competed for the honors of being a survivor.

Along with the 50 boats and their teams, the shores of Lake Hollingsworth saw about 300 spectators enjoying this beautiful natural venue.

Teams competed in 6 categories. On-Site Family, On-Site Youth, and On-Site Corporate/Family had 1 1/2 hours to design and build their boat. While Pre-Built Family, Pre-Built Youth, and Pre-Built Corporate/Family had to use all of the same materials but could do so prior to the race.

And the winners are……………..

On-Site Family
1st Team Gerber 2:02
2nd Team Brown 2:30
3rd Team Rathbone 3:16

On-Site Youth
1st ASCE Team 3 1:35
2nd ASCE Team 4 2:18
3rd Troop 106 2:32

On-Site Corporate/Family
1st FDOT 2:06
2nd ESA 1:11
3rd None

Pre-Built Family
1st Team Royan 2:26
2nd Super-Duperrault’s 2:36
3rd House of Gerber 2:58

Pre-Built Youth
1st RSA Robotocs 3:29
2nd Central Florida Aerospace Academy 5:08
3rd Combee Academy, Turtle Savers 6:53

Pre-Built Corporate
1st Wood Environment & Infrastructure 1:02
2nd FDOT 1:04
3rd Lakeland Sister Cities 1:33

LE/AD Lakes Awareness (Team that displayed the best Theme)
House of Gerber, Tale of 2 Turtles

Titanic Award (The most epic sinking)
Rochelle School of the Arts, The Current

Spirit Award (Cheered the most)
Combee Academy of Design and Engineering

Best of Show (As viewed by the judges)
Safety Products Inc, S.S. Safe Waters

People’s Choice (Voted by the people)
WonderHere, Sailing on a Sea of Wonder

Survivor (Still floating after all these heats)
Wood Environment & Infrastructure, Dump No Waste – Drains To Lake

Please follow Lakes Education Action Drive on Instagram and tag your photos #lakeseducation #CBBC19 and #LakelandCardboardBoat19

For Lakes Appreciation Month, Polk County and the Cities of Lakeland, Lake Wales, Haines City, and Lake Alfred recognized the importance of protecting our most valuable resource.

The North American Lakes Management Society launched Lake Awareness Week in 1998 to focus attention on lakes and reservoirs and their unique value, as well as the management issues they face. In 2003, Lake Awareness Week became Lakes Appreciation Month, held annually in July. Lakes Appreciation Month has helped raise awareness on lake issues and helped local groups share their success stories with a broader audience.

Boating, fishing and swimming are all favorite recreational uses of American lakes and reservoirs. Lakes and reservoirs also play other vital and often hidden roles. They provide drinking water and irrigation water for agricultural fields and are a source of electricity and power generation.

They also serve the important function of absorbing rainfall and runoff from land, help to prevent floods, and provide homes for precious wildlife.  As we enjoy and use lakes, we must protect them because lake pollution is caused by so many different activities. Education and outreach aimed at changing individual behavior are key components to any successful lake protection effort.

Here in Polk County, that means an opportunity to celebrate our beautiful lakes (over 500 lakes). Lakes Education/Action Drive (LE/AD), along with the City of Haines City, City of Lakeland, City of Winter Haven, Keep Winter Haven Clean & Beautiful, Polk County Board of County Commissioners and Keep Polk County Beautiful are helping to coordinate their efforts with one goal in mind – removing trash from our lakes and leaving Polk County’s lakes better than they were before!

And, You Can Help Too! For as little as $25 you can be a member of the Lakes Education Action Drive supporting educational programs throughout the year designed to improve the quality of our lakes. JOIN TODAY by going to our home page and click the PayPal link at the bottom.

The Secchi Dip-In was founded in 1994 by Dr. Robert Carlson and demonstrates the potential of citizen scientists working together to gather important information on our lakes and reservoirs. Individuals in volunteer monitoring programs across North America take a transparency measurement of their lake or reservoir in July to produce a continent-wide snapshot of water clarity. To date, over 50,000 Secchi readings have been collected as a part of the program, engaging hundreds of citizen scientists. The Dip-In is a leader in connecting lake lovers to water quality monitoring data.

The first Secchi Dip-In began as a pilot study by Drs. Robert Carlson, Dave Waller and Jay Lee from Kent State University. During Dip-In ’94, over 800 volunteers from six Midwest states (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) participated, representing a 40% response from the initial solicitation. The results from the first Dip-In suggested that regional patterns in transparency did exist, appearing to correlate with land use and whether the water body was a natural lake or a reservoir.

In 1995, the Dip-In expanded to include volunteers across the entire United States and volunteers from estuary and river volunteer programs were also included. Over 2,000 volunteers from 37 states and 2 provinces of Canada participated in this first year of the expanded program. Click here to find out more.


Danny Kushmer to become the Lakes Education Action Drive Executive Director

June 28, 2019 Lakeland, Florida. After a brief absence from Polk County, Danny Kushmer, returns as executive director for the Lakes Education Action Drive (LE/AD) beginning July 1st. Danny replaces Tabitha Biehl who was recently promoted to Land and Natural Areas Manager with Polk County Parks & Natural Resources.

Danny spent nearly 10 years as the governmental affairs manager for the Southwest Florida Water Management District with offices in Bartow. During this time, he served on the communications team for the Central Florida Water Initiative, was instrumental in the formation of the Polk Regional Water Cooperative and, served on the board for LE/AD. Danny is a partner with his wife Cally in the firm Florida Horizon’s, a Florida-based LLC partnering in real estate, governmental affairs, public relations, and environmental education.

Laurie Smith, President of the Board said, “Danny is a well-known figure in Polk County and has spent his entire career working with water. From farming to regulation, he understands Florida’s water quality and natural resource issues and will be a great fit for LE/AD.”

“I am honored to have been chosen as executive director, for me, this is not a position it’s a passion.” Kushmer said, “With over 550 lakes in Polk County, LE/AD encourages Polk County Citizens and visitors to enjoy their lakes. But, also understand the vital role these water bodies play in providing drinking water, irrigation, electrical and power generation, and of course maintaining our precious environment.”

The Lakes Education/Action Drive (LE/AD) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and quality of lakes in Polk County, Florida. Established in 1985, LE/AD has taken an active role in the pursuit of preserving our lakes and environmental resources. Lakes are ecologically and economically valuable, and our lakes deserve our care and protection. In addition, LE/AD encourages residents to take advantage of the many excellent opportunities our lakes provide.

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