Tara Dodson had just reached Kilimanjaro’s summit during a breast cancer survivor climb when she timidly asked to check her email with the help of a satellite phone. Lo and behold, the news she was anticipating reached her inbox – St. Johns County was inviting her to a second interview for a position as an environmentalist.
So Tara relocated from Lake Tahoe after working as an environmental planner for an engineering firm and began overseeing sea turtle protection. Like many St. Augustinians before her, Tara fell in love with the coastal gem that became her home – a gem teeming with wildlife, boasting sparkling waterways and flush with foliage. It isn’t lost on Tara that these treasured features are at risk lest the community at large live as responsible stewards of their ancient coast. “Sustainability is a holistic approach to managing our natural resources that we as humans depend on for survival,” says Tara. “Our natural resources give us food, water, clothing and shelter…just because we can’t see what is happening on a global scale doesn’t mean what we are doing locally isn’t affecting the change – albeit positive or negative.”
Her involvement with habitat conservation permeates not just her day job but also her downtime, which she spends volunteering with a local turtle patrol. She is responsible for the stretch of beach between Pope Road and A Street, so once a week, she bikes to her assigned area and runs its span scanning for nests. If one is spotted, she contacts the appropriate permit holder then heads to her office.
It was a natural progression for Tara to ultimately build her Full Circle Resource Management business after years of work reporting on and examining St. Augustine’s rich ecology. A fitting opportunity to showcase her business’ value came during a recent tiny house festival, where Full Circle Resource Management oversaw both waste and recycling operations. This efficient approach enables cost reductions that can negate expenses. Her organization also installed a water filling station that eliminates the need for bottled water. “You can actually save money,” says Tara, “by skipping the straw, not selling single [use plastic] and not serving everything in Styrofoam.”
Full Circle Resource Management was created to help businesses – like the festival – find small ways to positively impact the environment while still keeping their bottom line in mind. Small but purposeful changes like the ones Tara fosters can have a big effect on the well-being of our coast.
One by one, locals are stepping up to the plate in the name of preserving our picturesque community.
Learn more about Full Circle Resource Management by visiting www.facebook.com/livingfullcircle. Photography by Brian Miller.