Defenders Of The Gulf – Dr. Jerry Jackson

Ornithologist, author, Florida Gulf Coast University professor emeritus, With the Wild Things host

BY September 18, 2019
Photo By Brian Tietz

Years ago, as a professor at Mississippi State University, Dr. Jerry Jackson was frequently called upon to testify in environmental lawsuits. “I learned very quickly that doing these environmental cases was not winning friends for the environment. And not winning period. At the very best, it was stalling the inevitable,” he says. “I decided long ago that it’s better to reach the public with a positive message, to teach them about the gee-whiz things in nature, to teach them how to recognize the plants and animals around them.” 

Photo By Brian Tietz

He started a TV segment, Southern Outdoors, which ran from 1998 through 2001, in Mississippi to do just that. Now, here in Florida, he is the familiar host of WGCU public radio’s With the Wild Things, which plays every weekday morning. He’ll celebrate his 20th anniversary next year. 

When he’s not on air, writing, or researching, you can find him on the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary boardwalk, leading twice weekly tours and pointing out all the things an untrained eye will miss. “Most people who go to Corkscrew are out there to see alligators or to see the swamp. They don’t look at the details right in front of them—the little purple flower, the red-shouldered hawk, the barred owl.” 

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