Difference Makers

Article excerpt

Byline: stephanie mccormack

ellen whitmer

Ellen Whitmer recalls as a child she could walk out the front door of her parents' house in Fort Valley, Ga., to find all the accommodations of the great outdoors there to welcome her. She'd glance at the tall oak trees that looked capable of reaching into the heavens, stare for miles at the farmland stretching as far as the eye could see, and she could inhale the oh, so sweet aroma of the country.

You might say Whitmer grew up with an appreciation for nature and the environment. She became very involved in Girl Scouts in her younger days, and again later in life when she had children. Nowadays, the Fruit Cove resident proudly wears the imaginary badge of an environmental activist. With stints on the Bartram Scenic Highway Committee and Northwest St. Johns County Coalition, she says she remains adamant about putting a stop to rapid growth in St. Johns County. Her tools are often a pen or computer e-mail messages, which Whitmer fires off to editors of local newspapers about her concerns in hopes that ideas about preservation will touch other people's lives as it has touched hers. But neighbors can also count on her presence at County Commission meetings and offices, all in hope to make a difference.

st. johns sun: Did your childhood play a huge part in your love for the environment?

whitmer: Yes, I was close to nature there. I could leave my house and be in the woods in a matter of minutes. It was peaceful. I love beauty; it fits in perfectly with the environment. I love for things to be pleasant and appropriate.

sjs: We understand you enjoy research. What kind of research do you do? …