Sponsored By:

Dean Saunders

Water For Fighting
Water For Fighting
Dean Saunders

In Episode 2 of Season 2, Brett travels to Lakeland for the opportunity to hear from the person who brought the idea of conservation easements (they called it something different in the early 90’s) to Florida: 8th generation Floridian, long time real estate broker, and former member of the Florida House of Representatives – Dean Saunders. They talk about his time with Senator and then Governor Lawton Chiles; how conservation easements and Bright Futures were born; and how a young pancake dinner salesman became one of the most prolific land brokers in the state.

If you’d like to learn more about conservation lands in Florida, including easements, check out the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) 

Learn more about the Bright Futures Scholarship program.

Get to know who Senator and then Governor Lawton Chiles was. 

If you’re buying or selling real estate and want Dean’s help, find him here: https://www.saundersrealestate.com 

You can also reach Dean directly by email 

If you’re interested in finding out more about my day job and the amazing folks I work with, head here: www.anfieldflorida.com

This season of Water for Fighting is brought to you by my friends at Resource Environmental Solutions and Sea & Shoreline.

Sea & Shoreline is a Florida-based aquatic restoration firm that is on a mission to restore Florida’s water bodies and to protect our coastline communities against severe storms.  You can check out their projects at www.seaandshoreline.com.

RES is a national leader in ecological and hydrological restoration, offering nature-based solutions with guaranteed performance through innovative delivery options. Discover more about their work and commitment to Florida and its environmental challenges by visiting www.res.us.



Welcome to Water for Fighting, where we discuss the past, present, and future of water in Florida with the people who make it happen. I’m your host, Brett Seifers. This season of Water for Fighting is sponsored by Sea and Shoreline. Sea and Shoreline is a Florida-based aquatic restoration firm that is on a mission to restore Florida’s water bodies and protect our coastline communities against severe storms. You can check out their projects at seainshoreline.com. The season is also brought to you by Resource Environmental Solutions. REZ is a national leader in ecological and hydrological restoration offering nature-based solutions with guaranteed performance through innovative delivery options. Discover more about their work and commitment to Florida and its environmental challenges by visiting www.res.us. More about these good folks a little bit later. As advertised, we’re continuing to broaden our horizons a little bit more this season and today’s guest fits right into that philosophy. I’m so excited to be joined by a former member of the Florida House of Representatives and the founder, managing director, and senior advisor for Saunders, Ralston, and Dantzler, Dean Saunders. Dean served in the Florida House for two terms between 1992 and 1996, where he was instrumental in the creation of legislation that served as the foundation for the development and expansion of conservation easement programs here in the state of Florida. Since then, he has brokered some of the most consequential conservation purchases ever made in the state of Florida. Dean, thank you for joining me on the podcast. It’s good to see you. Yeah, good to be here. Let’s start at the very beginning. You and I talked for a few minutes before I got here, and you said that you’re an eighth generation Floridian. Is that right? That is correct. So tell me about your parents then, I guess, and their parents and parents and parents. Oh. So my parents, my dad, the Saunders side, were really cracker conks. Actually, the Saunders helped found the Bahamas in the 16. 1649 when the Lutheran adventurers left the Bermuda and went to the Bahamas. And then from the Bahamas they made it to Key West in about 18… between 1845 and 1847. And then migrated up the coast and then settled in the Dunedin area, a little community called Curlew, settled by the Saunders and then by ultimately my other side of my dad’s side of the family, the Sutton’s and Bechtons and a whole bunch of… names over there. And my great-great grandfather founded the Curlew Methodist Church, which at the time was the second oldest church in what was then Hillsborough County. Wow. So now of course it’s Pinellas County. Right, I was going to ask about that. Yeah, yeah. And then my mom, she came from Michigan. She was adopted and so her adoptive mother moved to Dunedin and that’s how she met my dad. My mother, actually her biological father is Native American. He was in Ottawa. I think Ottawa and Chippewa from Michigan. And so I’ve actually located her half brother. She never knew she had and he never knew he had a half sister until about a year ago. Wow, that is that is recent. Yeah, so is that the I had a friend who calls them I guess you purrs are they the you purrs the ones that are not the north side of Michigan or is it a different part of? Michigan that well, well, no, they were not part of the Upper Peninsula, but good catch I mean there were there’s several bands of the Ottawa and I think it’s the Little River Band that okay My folks were part of interesting So then let’s go back to you’re now here in Florida. Your parents, where were you born? So I was born in Claremont. Okay, which is much different now than it was when you were born there. True. But what were you like as a kid? What did you like doing? What did your dad do for a living? So my dad managed some groves for the Artie Keene family, a big citrus growing family out of Orlando, and he managed about thousand acres of their groves and a lot of them were in and around Claremont. Had he always done that from when you were in Dunedin? So dad went to University of Florida, majored in citrus and then he actually moved to Lakeland. He was working for the Soil Science Foundation here in Lakeland and then he got a job with Mr. Keene to be the manager of his citrus groves and so he moved to Claremont. So did you grow up in the groves with your dad? Oh yeah, yeah. I mean, as a little kid, I mean, fishing, swimming in the lakes, playing baseball. When I was 13, I started working in the Orange Coast. I remember it was, Easter break was coming up, and it was, so we had Thursday, Friday, and Monday off for Easter. I mean, back then, you could still call it Easter break. But now we call it spring break. And I remember it was a Wednesday evening, and Dad said, oh, by the way, you’re going to start working in the morning, so you need to make a lunch tonight. 630 in the morning. I did that until I graduated from college. I would come home in the summers and I’d work in the orange groves. So I started working 10-hour days in vacations and summer and whatnot. But it’s interesting. You have people that have different stories and some folks intentionally avoid the things that their fathers did before them or their mothers did before them. And I didn’t want to assume you’re one of the most significant land brokers in the entire state, probably the Southeast. And so I didn’t want to assume that, hey, just because you’re buying and selling doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily, it’s part of who you are. But it sounds like it is and has been. Well, yeah, yes and no. I mean, so my grandfather was a commercial fisherman. And so my dad’s on the Saunders side. Ever since we came from the Bahamas, we were either farmers or fishermen, right? And mostly fishermen. But my dad went on the agricultural side. the next Jaco Stowe, you know, at the time. I wanted to be a marine biologist, but later realized that there weren’t that many jobs at the time in that field. And so I migrated into majoring in citrus and agriculture and thought I would be, I’d always enjoyed sales. And I can remember when I was eight or nine, my dad was a great grove manager, but sales were not one of his things. And the Rotary Club was having pancake supper and they had tickets, right, to sell. So I took my dad’s tickets and I walked all over Claremont selling pancake supper tickets. And he was the top salesman. So he sold the most tickets. And it was actually me that had sold them. And he got a little black and white, 8-inch black and white TV as his prize for selling the most tickets. And he gave it to me. I enjoyed the sales. I enjoyed getting around and meeting with people and talking to people. You know, is Dean again, you know, what are you selling now? Do you know? Right. What do you attribute that to? Is it that, that persistence or were you always an extrovert? Is that kind of your thing? I, yeah, I just think, you know, yeah, I was, I, you know, enjoy people and enjoyed sales, I mean, it was a, just something to do, I don’t know, I just liked it and so I always thought I’d probably end up in fertilizer sale or chem, chemical sales or something. I was really thinking more national chemical companies at the time, ag chemicals. But when I graduated in 82, was a farm recession. Now the country in general was doing okay, but the farm community was not. And so I ended up going to work for Golden Gem Citrus Growers. And I know that one of your next questions is gonna be, well, how did I get to work in for Lawton Childs? So just to go to that story, I came home from work one day and I’d been at Golden Gem for about three months. Is this after college that you’re talking about? This is after college. After, you know, so 1983, my dad says, This guy called, his name is Charles Kennedy, says he’s administrative assistant to Lawton Childs. He called and I said, well, okay, do you have his number, Dad? I can return his phone call. No, he just said he’d call you in the morning. I said, Dad, what? So, sure enough, at six o’clock in the morning, he called me, I was already at the Golden Gym offices and he just said, Dean, I know you’re at work and you probably can’t talk, so just listen. He said, I’m. Charles Kennedy, administrative assistant to US Senator Locke-Chiles. And the senator would like to hire somebody to work agricultural issues for him. He’s looking for a cracker with a background in agriculture, preferably in citrus, who enjoys politics. You were referred to us by the University of Florida. Would you be interested in discussing this with us? And I said, yes, sir, I would. And I went down to Lakeland that night, and two weeks later I was working for Long Chiles. Wow. So that’s what brought me to Lakeland. Okay. So, I mean, you glossed over it a little bit, but you mentioned you were referred by the University of Florida, but you actually went to the University of Florida. Correct. And so while I was at Florida, I was very active in student government and my fraternity. I was a member of Alpha Gambrough Fraternity. was president of AGR and I was president of the Student Senate while I was there and member of Florida Blue Key and all the kinds of things that one does to be in leadership positions, never thinking that I would ever use that in any political fashion after school. Yeah, that’s the part I was curious about is the University of Florida, even in the A’s, it’s an enormous school now, but it’s always been a big school in Florida, and so Dean Saunders or you ask the president of the university, like, oh, you need to call this kid Dean Saunders. Yeah. So they reached out to the lobbyists for IFAS, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, who were looking for somebody, and if you all got somebody that you would recommend. And so there they recommended me. Right, so then let’s talk about then your time while he was Senator Lawton Childs. What did you do for him? How did that work? Lakeland, I assume, the entire time? So we were headquartered in Lakeland and I was here. So I was working administrative kind of issues, mostly. But he wanted me to be a, my title was agricultural liaison. I went to meetings with Florida Citrus Mutual or the dairy farmers or the, actually the sugar growers had an association at the time. They don’t anymore. It’s been disbanded. Or the cattlemen’s meetings or farm bureau meetings. Association meetings. I mean Busy is what you were. Nursher Men and Growers Association. All of the agricultural groups in the state, I got to know the leadership of those organizations. And that’s what the Senator wanted me to do. He wanted me to be out and meeting with those folks. So they knew they had an advocate and a voice in Washington for their needs. And so that’s really what I did. And then at some point, Mr. Kennedy came to me and said, like for you in addition to doing the work that you’re doing with the agriculture community, we would like for you to travel with the Senator, advance his trips, do the follow-up, and conduct town hall meetings on a regular basis in a 20-county district. So I was the quote, not only the agricultural liaison, but then they called it I think, Central Florida District Assistant. Okay. So when the Senator was in any of my counties, I’d pick him up at the airport, I’d That kind of thing. At that point, I mean, you’re working for who become probably one of the most famous, if not the most famous politicians from Florida, at least in the modern era. But did you consider yourself getting deeper into the political side of thinking at that point? Or do you still think of yourself as an ag person, an ag liaison, a person that wanted to work around those issues? No, I saw myself latter, really more, I was still an ag guy. I was, I’m working for the senator. I was very loyal to him, worked hard for him on his behalf, and did what he asked me to do, right, and represented his interest. But at the same time, I was an advocate for the agriculture community. And he knew it, they knew it, but I never really thought of me in that light, right? Right. That just wasn’t my particular interest at the time. I was interested in doing a good job and really being an advocate for agriculture. That sounds great. Talk about that transition then from Senator Childs to Governor Childs and then how you fit into that picture. So you asked me earlier was I always in Lakeland and I was always in Lakeland, but I had an interlude. The Farm Bureau, Florida Farm Bureau Federation hired me and so I took a year off from service with Senator Childs. to work for Florida Farm Bureau in Gainesville, which is where our oldest daughter was born. Okay. And so I did ag issues again for Farm Bureau, more national sort of issues. I did some state lobbying. And then in 1986, when the Democrats took control of the Senate again, Lawton became chairman of the Budget Committee. And he called me shortly after that and said, Dean, I’d like for you to consider coming back. Actually, we had dinner. And he said, I’d like. I’d like for you to come back to work for me. I’d like for you to come to Washington and handle ag issues for me. I’ll have more money, I can pay you out of the budget committee, go on staff and whatnot. And I said, well, I said, Senator, let me think about it and pray about it, visit with my wife about it. And I came back about a week later and I said, as much as I would find the opportunity exciting and to work for you again would be phenomenal, I just don’t want my opportunities to be in Washington. Because I know if I move to Washington, future opportunities will be there. And we really want to live in Florida. We love our state. We don’t want to be that far away from our parents. And I now have a daughter to consider. So he said, okay, well, how about if we just let you work out of the Lakeland office and you fly up to D.C. to do the work you need about once a month? And he said, but listen, if I make this trade off with you, you’re going to have to travel with me again. So that’s what we did. Okay. And then so what year was that when he took over that committee and asked you to come back? That was in 1986, right after the election. So I came back and I was on staff. So, 87. So then he decided not to run for reelection. He was up for reelection in 1988, but he made the decision, actually on Pearl Harbor Day, not to run for reelection in the Senate. So he made it in 1987 that he wasn’t going to run. So, and so I approached him and I said, well, I’d gotten my real estate license when I was a senior in college. And so I said, would you all consider cutting my hours in half and my pay in half and let me see if I can’t make a living with this real estate license? Because the Grove Market was really on fire. And I knew Citrus. I mean, I majored in Citrus in school. I knew Orange Grows. My dad, I worked in them. You know, since I was 13 years old, understood it, liked it. And there was demand because of all the freezes of the 80s, the early 80s, the 81 freeze, 82 freeze, 83 freeze, 85 freeze, all created a huge demand for orange groves south of Polk County, in Polk County, and south. Just kind of south of I-4. And for land to plant groves. So. They agreed, and I was able to make a deal that replaced my entire salary that I lost. And then the day after we closed the office, I got a deal done that replaced my entire year’s salary. And so I never looked backwards. I just saw it. You know, this is God’s, you know, providential hand here directing me. I never would have ever imagined that I would be selling real estate. It wasn’t like something I said, oh, wow, I just want to go sell agriculture real estate when I grow up. Never thought that in my wildest imaginations. And I remember my mom saying, You’re going to sell real estate? We put you through college for that? Ha ha ha ha. And to which I would say, Mom, remember, I paid for half of my college. That’s why I worked in those groves. I paid, I paid for half of my college. So, yeah. Did that make you better? I mean, you know, obviously, you know, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a real estate agent, but, but your history though, in your education, your experience, you’re dealing with the folks, not just from university of Florida in your education, but with the, the work that you did for center of trial. It had to be invaluable. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And so, so then not only was it just Senator Childs, but then, you know, when he ran for governor, I suspended my real estate practice and went. and helped him. When the day the announcement was made, I called him and said, I’ll see you in the morning. So I loaded up my little Bronco too and brought my computer and some clothes and went to Tallahassee. It was a little chaotic at the time, the campaign as most campaigns are. Nobody was raising money. But because I had been on the Senate staff, I knew so many of his friends and contacts around the state. So I just started got on the phone and just started putting together events to raise money to bring him into town. And so just started raising the money. So I raised the money for him in the campaign and then I stayed on staff with him. and then ran for the legislature myself. But all of those experiences put me where I was able to develop relationships with agricultural people all across the state and in various forms from dairymen to nurserymen to peanut farmers to citrus growers and tropical fish farmers, strawberry growers, I mean, fern growers, you name it, the gamut of Florida agriculture. to know a lot of that leadership. And so when I ultimately got out of the legislature, I was, what am I gonna do now? And I said, well, who do I know? Well, I know all these leaders in the agriculture community. I love selling land. You know, I’m gonna create a firm and we’ll start focusing on agricultural real estate. I wanna take just a moment to talk about my friends at REZ. Florida is a treasure trove of natural wonders, but the cost of that treasure is our collective responsibility to restore and protect its ecological and water resources. That’s where my friends at RES, the nation’s leader in ecological and hydrological restoration are at their best. With an extensive Florida-based team, RES provides top-notch nature-based solutions that uplift Florida’s ecosystems and the communities that rely on them. From water quality to hydrological restoration, wetland mitigation to coastal resilience, RES addresses the complex challenges facing our state with our unique operating model of taking full responsibility. for their project’s performance over time. Working with both the public and private sectors, RES is tackling the issues affecting Florida’s water and land resources the most. Their long-term, cost-effective, and sustainable projects rehabilitate impaired ecosystems, helping them do the work nature intended. Cleansing water, sheltering wildlife, buffering storms, and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Join RES on their mission to restore and uplift Florida’s ecosystems. Visit www.res.gov. dot us to learn more about res and their commitment to creating a resilient future for florida. All right, let’s get back to the conversation Well, let’s talk about that that transition. So you go from being, as you say, super loyal to to Senator Childs and then Governor Childs. At what point, because you you were elected to office, I think, is 1992. Is that right? That’s correct. And so some sometime between 1988 and 1992, something in your mind changed and said, I need to go do this. Why did you want to go do that? You know, that’s a that’s a good question. answer that. You know, I just enjoyed the public policy process. You know, I’d been working for Governor Childs at the time for almost a year and a half or so. And Quillian Yancey, who is a state senator from Lakeland, decided he was going to retire. He’d had enough, he was full of it, and he was going to retire. Well, that was going to create an opening for his Senate seat. And so I thought, you know, maybe I’ll run for that Senate seat. Polk County is where I am. I’m involved in this. Now I like it. Maybe I want to try my hand at it. So I approached the governor and said, I’m thinking about this. He said, well. then you need to get down to Polk County and you need to go bounce around and see what folks are saying. You need to go meet with some of the leaders down there and assess this situation. So I did. And it was a reapportionment year, and so the reapportioning the House and the Senate, but I came to the conclusion that there were others, Fred Jones being one of them, that were also considering running for the Senate seat. Fred had been in the house, who was a veteran of the house for 24 years, from Auburndale. I thought my chances probably weren’t all that good to take on that sort of a challenge, but he ultimately decided not to run. But everywhere I went, people I met said, yeah, there’s this guy in the house named Joe Vescusi. We’re not so sure about his brand of leadership, and we’d rather encourage that you run for .. Why don’t you think about running for that seat? So I did, and I made the decision to run. Joe was an incumbent Democrat. I was a Democrat. But we had a third party in the race, Gene Roberts. Gene was somewhat of a perennial candidate. He had run like eight times for office. And he was a great businessman, and he was well known in the community and well liked. He was also a Keywest or a clonk. Did he ever win? He never won, ever. But. What I realized then was, and we ran a strong campaign. I came in second and then Joe and I were in a runoff. This was when we still had runoffs in the primary. And what I realized is if you’re an incumbent and you don’t get 50% in that first race, if you’re in a runoff, you’re probably gonna lose. Because that really says that 50% of the people don’t think you should be reelected. So I was able to win in the Democratic primary. But it was the Ross Perot years. It was 1992. It was the Ross Perot years. And it was a throw the rascals out. And so highest voter turnout ever in Polk County. It was like 80% voter turnout. It was crazy. So all the polls were showing. My polls were showing me up. about 16 percentage points a week before the election. Republican polls were showing me up about 14% or 15%. So I felt, and I had kind of gotten word back on that, so I felt pretty good going into the race. But what I learned about polls is that polls poll the most likely to vote. Well, and most likely to vote is by past performance. Right. But in the throw the rascals out year of Ross Perot, that attracted so many people that weren’t most likely to vote. They were people that came out to vote. So there’s about almost a 20% pickup of those folks that would never poll. We never sampled their opinions because we didn’t expect them to come and vote. Sure. Right? So I won by five votes as it turned out. Five votes. And we had 10 days worth of recounts. We had six recounts, including a hand recount. Did the number ever change in there from the pot? Oh my gosh, it changed. Oh yeah, it’s a number of times. In fact, Brett, I went to bed that night. I remember calling my guy that was running my campaign. He was at the elections office. I was at our election party. And he said, Dean, I don’t know how to tell you, but I’m so sorry, but you lost about 220 votes or something like that. So I’m like, OK. So I called my opponent. congratulated her and I thanked everybody for their help and support and their friendship and my wife and I sat and we talked and said, you know, what an enriching experience this has been for us. Really, we’ve gotten to meet so many great people, got to learn a lot. This has really been an enriching experience for us. And you know what? The sun’s going to rise in the morning. We’re going to be fine. This is not. You know, not the end of the world. Sure. Disappointing when you’ve worked so hard not to win. But so we’re home in bed, literally. My I’m falling back on the pillow when the phone rings. It’s about two 30 or three o’clock in the morning. And it’s Bill Ruff. He, now Bill Ruff. He was a reporter, local political reporter for the Lakeland ledger. And he said, Dean, hey, this is Bill. What’d you think about the election? And I said, Bill, I lost. I mean, what do you think? I mean, I’m disappointed. He said, oh, you hadn’t heard? I said, no, what are you talking about? He said, well, they had a staff who at the elections office, they double counted the absentee ballots. And when they backed those out, you’re now 21 votes, but they still haven’t counted the military absentee ballots. So those have got to be opened up and there’s about a hundred of those. Well, I did that quick math. I said, okay, well there’s a hundred and there’s four districts in Polk County. There’s probably going to be 25 or 30 of those ballots. So probably go more to Republicans because it’s military and I’ll probably still be ahead. If I’m only ahead by 21 votes, I’ll probably lose about half that. And sure enough, when we counted them, I was up 11 votes. Then we did some machine recounts and whatnot. It varied. So we went from 11 to 7. Then we went into the canvassing board meeting. And the canvassing board said, hey, we’ve got a problem. We were canvassing the election, which is just a reconciling of ballots given to ballots voted. And we realized we were five ballots. too many, or five ballots short. And so when they explained it, what had happened was one of the precincts ran out of ballots. The demand in the voter turnout was so high, they ran out of ballots. And so, and they did not have time to drive to the elections office and get more ballots and get back by the time the polls would close. So they took some absentee ballots and had the people fill out absentee ballots. And there were five of those ballots. And they marked them and put them in a special box and put a note on it. And so when we went to the canvassing board’s meeting, the first thing was, well, how should we handle these five ballots? So they so bravely asked the candidates what we thought. And I said, well, listen, whether I win or lose doesn’t matter as much as the integrity of the election. And if they look like they are, I understand the explanation. I mean, it was an extraordinary voter turnout. They look like those are properly cast ballots, then we should count them, absolutely. However it turns out, my opponent didn’t think so. She thought we shouldn’t count them. And I think they broke three votes my way, two votes her way, so I net gained a one. But then she was demanding a hand recount. So we went in and I said, fine. I mean, again, the importance is that the election results of people’s voice should be heard, count them by hand. Well, what I didn’t realize at the time, Because we had a fill-in-the-bubble ballot. So we didn’t have hanging Chads like we later had in 2000, because we didn’t have those kind of voting machines. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that there are ballots that are not counted, because people fill out the ballots incorrectly. They bring a pen in, and they fill it out with pen, which isn’t read by the computers. Or they put in an X or they circle or they make other marks on the election ballot, but they’re not counted by the computers. And so the hand count and the computer count reconciled, it was the same. And now we come to the 25 or 30 ballots that were rejected by the machines and the canvassing board was then charged with determining the will of the voter. And they literally went through all these ballots. And so Saunders, Breidenbach, Saunders, Breidenbach, Breidenbach, Breidenbach, Saunders, Saunders, back and forth. And there was not a single ballot I disagreed with until the very last one. And I knew at that point I’d won because I knew there was no way the canvassing board would allow that ballot to be counted for my opponent. If it made a difference in the race and you could tell where somebody had put their mark, like they were thinking they were going to vote for my opponent. But then they lifted their pencil up and you could tell because their other ballots were bubbled in, right? But on that one, they decided not to vote. They abstained, but they called it for my opponent. And I figured, you know what? I must have won because there’s no way. they would let that because it was clear they didn’t intend to vote in my opinion. Right. And I won by five votes. So I think I, I think my opponent talked to me maybe eight years later. She never, she walked out and went to North Carolina and I never heard from her. She never spoke to me for eight years. Okay. So I mean, obviously that that requires the follow up of what was that conversation like eight years later? I can’t even remember. I don’t really care. All good. All good. So, we’re into metaphorical, skin of our teeth territory on getting into office. Did it work out easier the second time? These things usually are easier, I would assume, for an incumbent, but you served two terms. Did the second one go a little bit easier? Yeah, it was easier. It was interesting that the Democrat I had defeated in the primary race, Joe Biden, Nova Scusi changed parties and ran as a Republican and challenged me as a Republican. Interesting. But yes, I won. And so you didn’t spend a lot of time in the legislature, but you spent enough time dealing with public policy for years by that point. You’re still a really young guy. How old were you when you first got elected office? I was 32. 32, yeah. Super young. But you’d already been around these issues for a long time. And so it seems like you made really good use of the time that you had in the legislature. And I want to talk. little bit about that in particular because he’s largely a water and environmental podcast. The idea of conservation easements and the expansion of their use, you were instrumental in that happening. Tell me about that process. So yeah, so you know it’s funny, Brett, back when I was 24 years old and I was working for Lawton, newly married, and I can remember I’m not sure why my wife and I were in Orlando, but we were coming back to Claremont to go to my parents. This was in 1984, so this was after that 81 freeze, which had been devastating to Lake County, but then that 83 freeze, the freeze of Christmas of 1983, which coincidentally was also the week, the first night we spent in our new home in Lakeland was the freeze night. And the heater didn’t work. So here we are in 1984, and I’m driving back. And it looks like something you would see out of a dystopian novel. Just dead, gnarly orange trees everywhere. Wow. You know, because that drive used to be so pretty, you know, rolling hills, just nothing but orange trees and lakes. And, you know, we were called the gem of the hills. Claremont’s little mantra was, gem of the hills. That was our little thing. So I remember saying to my wife, I said, you know, this will all be houses one day, and I’m going to hate that. I said, you know, I wonder if we could pay landowners not to develop their land. So hence, the idea of the conservation easements at the time was born out of that. And so when I went to work for the Florida Farm Bureau between my stints with Lawton and when he was in the Senate, I started doing some research on the transfer of development rights because that was being used as part of the new… growth management legislation that the state enacted in 1985. Now the counties are having to do their comprehensive planning and all that has to get approved by the state. Well I started seeing… transfer development rights showing up as a way to offer a landowner a token, really, like oh, well, we’re going to allow you to transfer your development rights somewhere. So I started really researching that concept, and I found where there were some counties in New England. By the way, transfer development rights almost never works, because you have to have, government has to create a sending zone and a receiving zone. It requires the government to create the market. And that’s just something governments are terrible at. And so they really don’t work, was the conclusion I came to. But I also discovered that there were some counties in New England, Suffolk County in New York being one of them, that created purchase of development rights programs. I thought, oh my gosh, this is it. Where the government’s actually buying the rights to develop the land. And in Suffolk County, they were concerned about potato farmers. They wanted to continue to make sure they had people farming potatoes. Wow. And so. That’s Long Island, right? Suffolk County? Yeah. Right, yeah. Potato farmers on Long Island. Correct. And so I started calling some of those counties and I would talk to the people administering the programs. Oh yeah, this is how it works and whatnot. So I really had. I dove into it and really understood it. And so I said, I went to president of Farm Bureau at the time, Carl Lupe, I tried to pitch this idea. This is a great idea. This is a way to protect ag land, but still protect the integrity of private property rights. So it’s conserved, but the landowner gets to enjoy some of the appreciated value that he’s giving up to not develop the property. What was the initial reaction the first time you came back to Florida? You did all this research, you’re talking to these folks, you see that there’s something there. When you first said it out loud to someone, what was the initial reaction that you got? Skepticism. You know… But I was so enthusiastic about it. I remember when I talked to Carl, he was like, well, you know, that sounds interesting, Dean. You know? And so now, so fast forward to 1990, and I’m working for Lawton, but also on the ballot in 1990 was the constitutional amendment to create the Preservation 2000 program, which was an investment where the voters of the state said, we want the state to make an investment in our green infrastructure. We want them to protect some of our land. And so the concept was to spend $300 million a year to bond that money because the interest less than the appreciated value of the property. And so let’s buy land now and we’ll pay for it as we go. And we’ll pay for it from the documentary stamp tax, which was a beautiful nexus because it was, as real estate gets sold, houses get sold, part of that money goes for the doc stamps, we’ll use that money to pay back the bonds. So it was a great nexus. So suddenly now the state is buying a lot of conservation land. So here we go, 1993, and I’m like, you know, I had this idea when I was in the legislature. I mean, when I was a kid at age 24, I had tried to talk to the governor about it. I talked to the lieutenant governor, Buddy McKay, about it. I talked to Carol Browner, who had been head of the Department of Environmental Protection. I said, guys. This is a way we can make our dollars stretch further. We don’t have to pay as much. We don’t have to pay to manage the land. This is a great concept, and it protects the integrity of property rights. You know, they just weren’t, they didn’t disagree with me. It just was not a priority for any of them. Did they also think that it wouldn’t work, that landowners wouldn’t be interested, or was it really just, hey, we don’t know how to make that function? I just don’t think it was. A particular priority, it wasn’t like, oh, we’re against that idea. It was just, we’ve got so many other priorities and things that we’re focusing on. We’re not going to really worry about that. So when I got elected to the legislature, I said, you know what? I had this crazy idea, and I’m going to see if I can’t make it a reality. So I called the director of the Division of State Lands at the time, was Pete Mallison, and I asked him about it. And he said, well, Dean, he said, that is an interesting concept. He said, it’s one I think could work. He said, and I said, well, Pete, if I were to do this, how would you recommend we go about doing it? He said, well, I would find an area, and let’s see if we can make it work. Take a geographic area, and let’s set aside some money to do that only in that geographic area. And let’s test the efficacy of this before we go try to do it statewide. So. That’s what I did. So I crafted some legislation to do just that, to buy development rights. And that’s what we called it, purchase and development rights. So following on Pete’s suggestion, I said, you know, the Green Swamp area of critical state concern is about 320,000 acres area in Polk and Lake County. It was already designated an area of critical state concern. So it was already considered an important area. geography to protect. It was large enough in acreage that we would have. We could test the efficacy of the program, because we’d have enough landowners to pull from to see if they had an interest. And so. Right. But I also know landowners were skeptical of the water management districts. They didn’t trust Swift Mud, they didn’t trust St. John’s, they darn sure didn’t trust DEP or the Department of Community Affairs because remember, this was right after growth management got passed and landowners were feeling the impact of what they consider to be down zoning on their properties, where they might have had one unit to one acre that they could develop on their property. Now they went from one unit to five acres. one unit to 10 acres or one unit to 20 acres. And in the green swamp, they were talking about making them go to one unit to 20 acres. Because anything in the green swamp area of critical state concern, not only did the counties have to agree to, but the state got a say so in that as well. And not just through comprehensive planning, but because it was in an area of critical state concern. So the state was really holding their feet to the fire. All that to say, Brett, that it really created increased distrust of any of those state agencies. So I said if this idea is going to have any merit it’s got to be a separate independent body. So I wrote it so that it would be a separate independent body that Polk County would get three appointees by their County Commission could appoint three people Lake County could appoint three people and the governor could appoint three people. We’d have nine members and that’s so that way we’d have an odd vote. But they would be charged with hiring an executive director and coming up with their own rules and implementing the plan. And we took $10 million a year. Ultimately, it came from the Preservation 2000 monies. But a little different pots. There were separate monies set aside for areas of critical state concern. They got a little bit, so I took some of that from here and there, and we came up with $10 million a year, so $30 million over a three-year period. was how we did it. And I’ll never forget when I introduced it, the government guys didn’t like it. They didn’t like the idea of only buying an easement or stopping just the development. They wanted to buy all of the property. And they just thought I was a fascist in that regard. That’s how I say it. And the landowners… thought I was a communist. Um, and so, but most of them knew because of all my background and history with them, they knew, well, you know, Dean’s one of us. And I had been active in the Burt Harris Private Property Rights Protection Bill. I was one of the people behind all that to protect private property rights. Yeah, I had a lot of credibility with the landowners. And so they were skeptical as well. So I’d say it was met with skepticism on both sides. But I’ve always felt like the landowners and the agriculturalists had a lot more in common with the environmental community than either one of them would acknowledge. And I thought, you know, if you buy the development rights, that’s where the integrity of private property rights meets the protection of land. It meets conservation. You’re paying the landowner to give up the right to develop the property. Alright, let’s pause for a moment and talk about my friends at Sea and Shoreline. As we in Florida wonder what the future holds when we face the storm season ahead, Sea and Shoreline is working to protect our coastline communities against severe storms. by installing a variety of green and gray infrastructure solutions to make our cities and counties more resilient. These solutions include seagrass restoration, mangroves, oyster reefs, riprap, oyster break waters, and something called a WAD, which stands for Wave Attenuation Device. By installing their patented WADs, sea and shoreline can help protect our communities against sea level rise and storm surges by diffusing wave energy, stopping shoreline erosion, and even rebuilding shorelines through sand accretion. To learn more about how Sea and Shoreline can protect your community, visit seainshoreline.com. Alright, let’s get back to the conversation. You mentioned the landowners. What was the reaction initially from the environmental community at that time? Again, everybody was a little skeptical. And it depended on where you kind of came from. Some of the environmental organizations, the Nature Conservancy, and you had mentioned earlier, Brett, the gentleman, Eric Draper. Eric and I were good friends. And he didn’t really understand the agriculture community. And I always kind of considered it one of my jobs to educate people about agriculture. and being an advocate for how farmers felt and ranchers felt about their land. And I knew the deep love and attachment they had. And honestly, the state only has the right to argue about protecting that land because these people have protected it for all these years that they haven’t developed it. Right, right. So let’s respect and honor that. And so folks from different walks of life, but in this one area where we could conserve property, we really did have a meeting of the mind, so to speak, even if people were distrustful of the other. Right. And so I got earlier mentioned to you that I’d sponsored it in the house, but my sponsor in the Senate. was happy to sponsor it because it sort of begged him to sponsor it, but he suggested that I needed to be the one to come carry the load. and push it through the Senate, which I did. And when I went to the Natural Resource Committee to present the bill, the Florida Farm Bureau was, the lobbyist was on my right side in support of the legislation. And the Audubon Society lobbyist, Charles Lee, was on my left, appropriately positioning. But they both spoke in strong favor of what we were doing. And so it became law. We had a big bill signing ceremony here in the green swamp. The governor came in and it just enjoyed all kinds of success. People loved it. Landowners liked it. They were receptive to it. Do you remember the first easement that you executed or that was executed by the state or I guess that organization? There was a group. So in the first batch we did, I think there were nine that got done. They were called land protection agreements. At the time, we were not using the term conservation easement. where it was purchase of development rights, and it was called a land protection agreement. Later down the road, the name got changed to purchase of a conservation easement. And I remember people came to me and said, yeah, you know, I think it sounds a little more politically correct to call this purchase of development right. I mean, a conservation easement. And I said, I don’t really care what you call it, as long as the landowner. is remunerated and compensated for the rights he gives up in his land. Right. And this can take lots of different angles. So that’s kind of how that got born out. And I do remember, you know, you asked me how people responded. My biggest opponent, really, in this was Fritz Busselman. So Fritz was the land acquisition director for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Fritz hated this idea. and the concept of buying and development rights. He hated it. And he tried to undermine me everywhere I went. He went to the St. Pete Times, I remember, and got them to write a scathing editorial, opposing it. And then later, it was the best idea Fritz had ever had. Sure. After we got a pass, after we’d had success, then Swift Mud started using it and doing, they probably did more easements than anybody else, and Fritz was at the head of all that. So sometimes you just got to have to prove it to people. Because Fritz would be a late convert. It was a later convert, but he later used it extensively. to protect a lot of land. And we talked about it before. It’s like from my end being at the Northwest Florida Water Management District, it was a huge tool for us to be able to use, to get that same protection that you were after, that the environmental community’s after, while making sure that we’re respecting someone’s property rights and making sure that they’re properly compensated for, for giving up those rights that they had before. Right, and you know, and from your perspective, double the amount of land you could protect with the same amount of money. That’s exactly right. And you didn’t have the long-term commitments to managing the obligate. You didn’t have the obligation to manage the land and pay for it. And it still stayed on the tax rolls and still stimulated the economy in some form or fashion. Right. Because if someone is using it to, and Northwest is more likely to be growing timber, it’s still something that’s part of the economy still. And you’re exactly right. That was a big, that’s a big thing, especially in some of the smaller districts. but it’s not unusual for these larger ones. It costs money to manage hundreds of thousands of acres of land. And so I think what you, you open a door that, that made it a lot easier for us to be able to manage that in the long run. And that’s a, that’s a huge deal. Yeah. And it was, so I remember the day, cause I’m sure at some point you want to know about my transition out when I, literally the day my announcement that I was not going to run for the was in the paper. I had a local rancher call me, Charlie McOverstreet, call me up. He said, Dean. You know, I thought you were crazy as a sprayed roach with your conservation legislation. But you know what? And he said, but I didn’t want to be critical because you’re my friend, and you’ve been my friend a long time. But you know, I’ve been thinking about this. And I think this is something that could help me. Why don’t you come out here and visit with me and Betty Kaye? That was his wife. I think I want to hire you to help me get this done. I thought, oh, okay. Charlie back needs help. There may be other landowners that need help doing this and I’m a big believer in it, you know So if you if you really peel me back, you know, I’m an agriculturalist and I’m in a real estate broker You cannot be either one of those without a strong sense of the protection of private property rights. There’s hygrosync to me. Now you can’t put a nuclear waste dump everywhere on your property, right? I mean, there has to be some regulation of what you do. That’s why we have zoning laws. That’s why we have growth management. That’s why we have some of the things that we have in place to protect against obnoxious uses. But you cannot come from either one of those facets of life. And I came from both of them. and not have a strong sense of private property rights. So, you know, if a man owns a piece of land and there’s development pressure and he wants to develop it, and he can, and there’s demand, you know, God bless him. That’s his right. But I’m an eighth generation Floridian. And you know, I love Florida, 18 million people ago. You know, but I can’t change the fact that they’re here. And so, but we can try to protect some of what’s here for it not to be developed. As long as we can do it in a way that protects the integrity of property rights. It doesn’t trample on that. So when he mentioned that to me, and I thought, you know, this would be something that maybe I could go pitch and talk to other landowners about. I understand it, I wrote the legislation. But I believe in it. I’m passionate about it, and I get to protect land. And so I’ve started doing a lot of that work, and I’ve done it ever since. And I’ve had the privilege of doing probably close to 100 deals with government and representing landowners and protecting land from being developed. It ends up becoming your long term, make a career of the pancake dinner from being a kid. Yeah. Exactly. Tell me about a couple, maybe one. I know the one that’s most recent, which was the Bluffs property at St. Teresa up in Northwest Florida. But tell me one of those is that maybe you’re the most proud of, or at least is significant in your mind in terms of bringing folks together, because that’s what you’re doing in the end, is bringing landowners. In this case, government together, sometimes like the Nature Conservancy is involved, and you make that happen. Tell me about that process a little bit. I approach this as an understanding of working with a buyer and a seller. I view my job is to really understand both parties’ needs. If I can meet two parties’ needs, that’s where we make a deal. It’s not always the highest and best price. It’s meeting needs. And so I focus my whole real estate practice, and I encourage my associates to, let’s really understand the buyer’s needs, let’s understand the seller’s needs, because where we get them to meet is where we get paid, where we make a deal. Right, right. So the state or any conservation group, and I’ve done deals with. the counties, I’ve done deals with all the water management districts, I’ve done deals with the USDA, I’ve done deals with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, done deals with the state of Florida, Florida Department of Agriculture, so there are so many iterations now of this concept. Because when I did it, USDA wasn’t buying conservation easements, they started that with the 1996 farm bill. They started buying wetland reserve easements. So these things have just evolved, and they’re different tools. you know some of the counties now are doing them. The water management districts have done them. So there’s different iterations and different goals and objectives and so I try to understand the goals and objectives. Like USDA’s, the wetlands reserve easement is to restore wetlands that might have been damaged or destroyed for farming, for agricultural purposes. And so one of the larger ones I did at the time represented Bluehead Ranch and the Westby Corporation with Mr. Carlton and we protected 25,000 acres of land at the headwaters of Fish-Eating Creek. And that was a huge project. It was the largest conservation easement that USDA had ever done. It involved three landowners and I remember going, we spent quite a bit of time in Washington. It was during the Obama administration and they had a little different angle and I was saying rather thousand acres there and 100 acres over here, why don’t we look at a watershed? I said here’s a phenomenal watershed and we can restore it. We got three landowners primarily to deal with. And Fish eating creek. is a natural course that runs into Lake Okeechobee. We want to clean up Lake Okeechobee, then let’s protect it. And here is a way to make sure that happens. So that’s an example of one I did. And you mentioned the Bluffs of St. Teresa was a 17,000 acre track in St. James Island. We called it the Bluffs of St. Teresa because it was a marketing name. Right. As you know, Brad, I sold the Latter-day Saints, the company they called reserves bought about 382,000 acres from St. Joe Timber Company. Back in 2014 we closed on the deal, but some of that land was surplus. And this 17,000 acre track on the Gulf of Mexico with over 25 miles of waterfront on it because it fronted on Oclochne Bay and on Alligator Point and you know the bay there on the Gulf of Mexico. So they hired me to sell that for them. because it didn’t serve their purpose. But it was, when I saw it, I thought, oh my gosh, this would be such a phenomenal piece to have in conservation. The state really should try to own this. So it took a while and we tried at one time and weren’t able to get there. And we figured out a way to get it done. And we, and we made it happen. And, uh, yeah, and I’m real proud of that. Is that that property really should have been in public ownership. It is special. And, and it’s, it seems to me as like you tell me where, where I may be missing this a little bit, but, but it is seeing those kinds of opportunities and be able to work with someone like ag reserves. Who has, who is now? I think the largest private landowner. They’re the largest private landowner in the state of Florida. They could have easily done whatever they wish, but they’re a cattle company, and at least that segment of their operations is cattle. And so seeing, is that part of the experience that you built over decades of seeing an opportunity where someone else may be like, oh, well, we don’t know exactly how to approach that with these folks? You know, yeah, I mean, it does come from having that experience, from just being comfortable enough in my own skin to ask the questions. And to start being so bold is to offer some suggestions. Have you thought about this? Have you thought about that? We could do this, position it here, position it there. And I really enjoy working with sellers and helping them accomplish their goals. And sometimes it’s not a straight line. And so in the conservation arena, these deals oftentimes take so long. to get done. Sometimes it can happen quickly, but normally it takes years to get them done. There was a period after the Great Recession when the state didn’t have a lot of money and they weren’t investing a lot of money in their green infrastructure. And so to get deals done, we had to be very creative. I did a lot of deals with USDA. But we also, I got the Florida Department of Agriculture and USDA together. And I said, guys, why don’t y’all partner? You’ve got a couple different programs. Why don’t you partner on some of these programs? And neither one’s carrying the main load. So I was able to get a lot of my deals done by just being creative and thinking out of the box. I did one deal where I sold a conservation easement to USDA, Wetlands Reserve easement. And my landowner wanted to sell the property, but I didn’t have any particular buyers. Because at the time, it was right after or during the Great Recession. There were no private buyers. People weren’t buying. I mean, they just weren’t doing anything. They didn’t have the money to do it. So we did an easement with USDA, Whitelands Reserve easement, and then I sold the underlying fee value once we sold the easement to Polk County and the SwiftMud in partnership. So they partnered and bought the underlying fee. So that was one of my more creative deals. It involved three units of government, Water Management District, United States Department of Agriculture, and Polk County. Interesting. Your folks have described you, or you’ve described yourself to your folks at least, or as a recovering politician. I’m gonna ask you to take one last look back into that life. Is there something that if, some I made you go back to do it again, that you wish you had done while you were still there, or something that you see over the years that you’ve been out, that you might like to go back and fix? Oh man. I mean, you know, there’s always things you see, but you know, I don’t want to have any real regrets of what I’ve done. I mean, in addition to the conservation easement legislation, I was also created the bright futures, authored the legislation that created. bright futures and authorizes existence. It didn’t get funded until after I was out. The year after I was out, it got funded. I think it’s a piece of policy though, speaking as a parent. I know there are a lot of parents out there that are listening to this as well. You know, you’re part of sending my oldest to college. I’ve got two younger ones that will continue to take their SATs and however many times it takes and do their volunteer work to qualify for bright futures. It’s been a huge part of a lot of people’s families. And it stood the test of time, which I think is important as well. You gotta be proud of that. Both of those things are, I’m incredibly proud of. Honestly, The Bright Futures has kept, it did what we meant it to do. Keep our talent, one of the goals, right? Keep people in Florida. Keep them going to Florida schools. And so the demand for schools in Florida is a lot higher as a result. But guess what? We keep a lot of those people here and keep our talent in the state of Florida. Yeah. I think it’s a, uh, a huge innovative piece of public policy. Um, and so, uh, well done there. And you know, that was one of those things, Brett, when I did it, that was some real heavy lifting. Uh, man, I had to work that thing in the house. And then my Senate sponsor at the time was in the doghouse with the Senate president. And every single one of his bills had six committee references. Ouch. Which, as you know, is your time in the legislature, was the kiss of death. Because committee meet about four weeks, and if you got six committee assignments, there’s no way to get through all those committees. So I was able to go and convince Don Sullivan, who was Senate, he was chairman of the education committee in the Senate, and I said, Don, you know, I’ve got the answer to the lottery. You know, because everywhere we went, people would complain to us about the lottery. And so we were all feeling that, you know, people were saying, well, it was a flim-flam. You promised us educational enhancement, but you’re just really filling budget holes with this money, you’re not really using it the way you said you were going to use it, blah, blah, blah, blah. So I spent some time, I spent about an hour in Don’s office. pitching him on this idea that this is an answer to the lottery. And what a great way we could do it. And we patterned it after the Hope Scholarship from Georgia. And so after I got talking to him and he said, you know what, Dean? I think you’re really on to something. I think you’re right. He said, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. He said, I’m going to take the bill and I’ll make it a committee bill. Said, I’ll take it from the member and we’ll make it a committee bill. So we did, and we got it, got it passed in the house and the Senate. And then I’ve got the governor. And so he didn’t like it. And so one of the things I knew about the governor, governor Childs was that he didn’t like entitlements and he was really concerned about. tying the hands of the future legislatures. But I kind of thought that was the beauty of it. It kind of did tie it, because I knew it would be so popular that they’d have to continue to fund it. And so he came in town, and he was signing it. And I knew he had a concern and was thinking about vetoing it. And I begged him, please, don’t veto this. Don’t, please. And he didn’t. He didn’t veto it, but he also didn’t sign it. He let it become law without his signature. Wow. And I think the only reason he did was because it was me asking. The next year, of course. was the big fanfare now that everybody’s funding it. And it just so happened providentially, I was in town and was able to attend the bill signing ceremony, and Ken Pruitt, who was one of my good friends, he said, Dean, you come get in this picture with us, because we wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t done this legislation. So the governor signed it and handed me the pen. That’s really cool. Even though I wasn’t in the legislature at the time. If you’ll indulge me, we go into sort of a, a lightning round, but it’s more of a, you know, rote questions I ask everybody just to kind of to get their reaction, but I think it’s people seem to like it that that listens. So I’ll ask you this, you spent your career preserving some of these, you know, unique special places in Florida. Are you optimistic about the environment in Florida? When you say the environment, you mean land, these natural systems, that, that sort of thing? so grateful that our leadership and the voters have said, look, green infrastructure is important to us. And honestly, you know, some policymakers have had different priorities of emphasis on that, some more so than others. And certainly our current governor has had a very strong conservation ethic and is very encouraging of protecting land. And this legislature is following in suit. And so they have appropriated quite a bit of money. And so I think we, Florida, is a model for how this can be done in other states and is thing to do for development and for conservation. And so if you want to protect your quality of life in your state, here’s a way to help do it. Yeah, I mean, like we can always discuss issues. There are always things when you have 20, almost 23 million people living in a place, it’s going to provide stresses and strains and that that’s going to exist. Yeah. And that’s the other, that’s the, that’s the next question, which is, is there something that keeps you up at night regarding that subject matter? And if so, you know, you know, why. Well, you just got a lot of resources that get stressed. Water certainly is at the top of that stress, because we can’t live without it. And so there’s a lot of competing demand for those water resources and to keep water clean. I don’t know that it keeps me up at night, but I know those are important considerations. And some of that stuff’s above my head, above my pay grade, because I’m not in public policy anymore. And you’re right, I am a reformed politician, mind talking, but I do get to participate and work with landowners and I can do my fair share in helping protect this place. Why not? by reducing some of the stress on some of the land, right? By helping do the conservation easements that I’ve been able to help do. Right, and that’s enormous. I think I would agree in that you are, in fact, doing your part. What advice would you give to young people that are thinking about whether it be in the public policy arena or in land brokerage, in conservation easement deals? What would you say to them in terms of getting things. Follow your dreams. Chariots of Fire. in that movie, and I tell my kids this, you know? Eric Little in the movie is seen, you know, he’s a missionary, his family, missionary family, and of course he’s a famous Olympic athlete, chooses not to run on Sunday, and then later runs in a relay race, and England wins, and you know, it’s one of those things, but in the movie, it shows his sister saying to him, Eric. just wish you would get this over and that you would get back on the mission field and doing God’s work on the mission field. And he said, I told him, yeah, but I feel this pleasure when I run. He made me fast too, and I feel this pleasure when I run. So I’ve told my kids, I want you to do. where you feel this pleasure in what you’re doing, and where so where your passion, what do you like doing? Pursue that, but pursue whatever you do with excellence. We’re made in his image to be excellent at whatever we do. So do that, pursue whatever it is that you’re passionate about, be really good at it, and focus on it. That’s great. If folks want to know more about what you do and how you may be able to help them in general and more specifically with here at your brokerage, how can they get hold of you? and call us at 863-648-1528 or email me at dean at svn.com. There you go, you heard it folks. And I’ll put the website in our episode notes so they can find you there as well as the email address and other things about what we talked today. I could go on for hours with you, but Dean Saunders, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. Thank you, Brett, enjoyed it. Well, that’s it for this episode. Thanks for listening to Water For Fighting. This podcast has been brought to you by Rez and C&Shoreline. Don’t forget to check the episode notes to visit their websites and learn more about how they can help you. If you’re enjoying the show, please be sure to subscribe on whatever platform you use. And don’t forget to leave a five-star rating in review. You can follow the show on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, probably even Twitter at FLWaterpod. And you can reach me directly at FLWaterpod at gmail.com for who and or what you’d like to know more about. Production of this podcast is by Lonely Fox Studios. Thanks to Carl Sworn for making the best of what he had to work with and to Dave Barfield for the amazing graphics and technical assistance. A very special thank you goes out to Bo Spring from the Bo Spring Band for giving permission to use his music for the podcast. The song is called Doin’ Work for Free and you should check out the band live or wherever great music is sold. Join me next time for another amazing conversation with someone who has helped shape water and environmental policy in the Sunshine State. Until then, keep your whiskey close and your water closer.

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