“Keep Martin Beautiful,” will be recognizing environmental “heroes” tonight, and one of them is longtime River Kidz member, Veronica Dalton. Veronica was nominated and is therefore being recognized at the “Environmental Stewardship Awards” for her public speaking work on behalf of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
You may or may not know, that “Keep Martin Beautiful” is affiliated with “Keep America Beautiful.”
Keep America Beautiful was founded in 1969, inspiring such things as the famous “crying Indian commercial,” and Earth Day. Keep Martin Beautiful was founded in Martin County in 1994. (http://www.keepmartinbeautiful.org/history.html)
Veronica’s journey for beauty and the river started in 2011/2012 when she was 9/10, with the founding of River Kidz. She was always a leader and the organization gave her an opportunity to showcase her speaking and writing skills. She enjoys writing and speaking about something she cares about: the river.
Even before the “lost summer” of 2013, at a River Kidz and Martin County welcoming of state paddle boarder icon, Justin Riney, under the bridge in Sewall’ Point, little Veronica politely pushed her way up to the front of the group, looked up at me and the other River Momz asking: “May I speak? I wrote something and I have it with me….”
I knew at this moment, Veronica had a future and would utilize the River Kidz’ mission: “to speak out, get involved, and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers.”
Her speech was heartfelt. And the crowd responded with cheers and a standing ovation. Justin smiled his handsome smile and never forgot the kids!
Shortly thereafter, with her parents, Tammy and John Dalton, Veronica sat in through Senator Joe Negron’s Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin, taking her turn to speak, showing the committee pictures she took of fighting conchs that had died at the sandbar due to the polluted freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee as well as C-24, C-23, C-25 and C-44. I’ll never forget the secret service type gentleman at the podium holding up Veronica’s sign for the Senate Committee to see!
I believe Veronica’s words had a tremendous effect on the Senate Committee and many of the “out of town” Senators expressed that they were amazed by our active and eloquent youth. I smiled saying, “Welcome to Martin County.”
Veronica has spoken most recently at the Clean Water Rally in 2014 at Phipps Park, and this year in 2015, has already shown me some of her speeches she wrote at Anderson Middle School, in Stuart. She is regular speaker and writer of St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon issues at her school. She is now 12 years old.
The legacy of environmental stewardship continues; let’s all give Veronica a big hand for keeping Martin beautiful and for keeping America beautiful…
And watch out America, here these kids come!
Keep America Beautiful/history: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_America_Beautiful)
Keep Martin Beautiful:(http://www.keepmartinbeautiful.org)(http://www.keepmartinbeautiful.org/history.html)
River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition. Go to (http://riverscoalition.org), and then River Kidz tab for details.