Keeping our Community Beautiful


By Tamara Leigh Young, PhD, Public Information Director for the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village

It’s time for more “Reel Talk” from the Mayor and me. This time, we chatted about cleanups and celebrations to keep our community beautiful.

TY: Earth Day 2024 was April 22nd. In some ways, every day should be Earth Day!

BW: I agree, it is our duty to ensure that we leave our community and ecosystem in a better state than we found it every day. The significance of our natural resources to our families, economy, and way of life makes it even more crucial to safeguard and expand them for future generations. Simple acts of kindness by both locals and visitors are all that is required to maintain the beauty of Destin.

TY: I love that our community places an emphasis on the event to highlight its significance. Both in 2023 and this year, I was at Norriego Point for a cleanup. It was beautiful to see people volunteering. What’s one of your favorite memories of celebrating Earth Day?

BW: One of my favorite memories is when the Okaloosa Island Pier allowed a few of us divers to go underwater along the pilings and take a few hours to clean up all the fishing gear and trash that had fallen over into the water. Before that time, the pier never allowed diving. While we were doing a voluntary trash cleanup dive, it became one of my favorite dives to date. The marine life, big and small, was very active that morning, and it was a great reminder of why it’s so important to keep our waterways healthy and thriving for the marine life underwater.

TY: What an experience that had to be, and it’s a good reminder that cleanups and care aren’t just for the beaches. In fact, we have a tree planting ceremony coming up to celebrate Arbor Day on behalf of the City of Destin, and we’ll be planting a live oak in Kell-Aire Park, the South side. I know live oaks are one of your favorite trees. Why?

BW: Wow! It’s amazing that you remembered my favorite tree! Live oaks are truly remarkable, not only because they can live for centuries, but also because they are incredibly resilient. Just like us Floridians, they can withstand even the fiercest storms and adapt to the toughest challenges. Their sprawling and twisting branches are a symbol of Southern life, providing lush and cooling shade that’s perfect for sunny days. And, they host a rich ecosystem that supports numerous species of local wildlife along the Emerald Coast, including us.

Planting a live oak tree is not just about adding a tree to the community. It’s about enriching the community with a resilient, beautiful, and wildlife-supporting asset that will serve multiple generations.

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