Fighting to protect the coast
By Bobbie Stewart
In environmental activism, you don't win a lot. But defeat has never stopped St. Augustine activist Hunter Miller, who understands that the ones you do win count big.
Last year, Miller, a member of St. Augustine's Environmental Youth Council (EYC), led the fight to protect marine life by organizing a march of over 100 people across the Bridge of Lions and ultimately persuading local officials to pass a resolution opposing offshore drilling and seismic air gun testing. That resolution became a blueprint for resolutions passed by more than 100 other municipalities along the Atlantic coast.
"The odds (of winning) were definitely stacked against us," he said. "But it just says that if you care, and if you take it to the next step and engage and organize, you can make a difference."
His efforts did not go unnoticed. This spring, the advocacy organization Oceana gave him, along with 18 other organizers along the Atlantic seaboard, an award of excellence for their work. Actors and Oceana board members Ted Danson and Sam Waterston were among those presenting the awards.
For Miller, fighting for environmental causes comes naturally. He is a lover of the land and sea. He works for St. Augustine nursery Southern Horticulture as a landscape designer and enjoys spending his free time on the water fishing. He channeled his love for the coastal town onto a professional track when he thought one day he might like to work for the city, serving the community. That led him to Flagler's Public Administration program, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in 2012.
"The program really helped me have a better understanding of government and policies that work and don?t work," Miller said. "At EYC, most of the time, our solutions are through policy, so gaining an understanding of how that process in government works was extremely helpful."
Though advocacy work is tough, Miller's commitment to do good helps him stay the course. "You know when you can't un-know something?" he asked. "If you ever have a connection to the Matanzas River, or to dolphins or the mountains — if it's an authentic connection, then there's a moral obligation to do your best to protect those things."
And so the Flagler grad responds to his affinities for the natural world with social engagement, in hopes that one day he will not only leave something better for the following generations, but for his own conscience.
"You have that death bed scenario where you ask yourself: 'Did I do the best I can to make a difference?'," he added. To me it's important to answer that question in good faith.
When Miller is not participating in local causes or designing landscapes, he can be found playing guitar and bass in the local bands The Rivernecks and Sand Fleas.