TAMPA, Fla. — A St. Petersburg native is using his skateboard and the open highway to bring attention to environmental issues in the state of Florida.
Justin Bright has always had a passion for skateboarding. He began skating at the age of 13 and always had a knack for long rides.
While at the University of Florida he studied journalism and environmental studies. It's there he decided to combine the two, along with his passion for skating, and bring awareness about Florida's ecosystem and the damage that continued development has caused.
"I am skating across the entire state you know over a thousand miles from the Alabama border all the way down to Key West, and I am seeing every different ecosystem that the state has to offer," Bright said.
Bright has teamed up with Conservation Florida to raise awareness about Florida's current state of the environment. In about three weeks' time, Bright has helped the organization raise more than $7,000 dollars.
"Justin is amazing. We admire his courage and originality as he draws attention to the need for land conservation and wildlife crossings and corridors in a unique way. From the perspective of a bear or panther, our roadways must be terrifying. We wish him safe travels and are grateful that he is raising awareness and funds to support Conservation Florida’s work to save land in Florida and highlighting the need for a protected Florida Wildlife Corridor," said Traci Deen, CEO, Conservation Florida.
Bright said the journey has been an enlightening one, but it hasn't been easy. He's traveled through the countryside, major highways, and through Florida's temperamental weather.
"This trip definitely hasn't been a joy ride. It's not always safe, or comfortable, or you know warm or dry all the time," Bright said.
An average day for Bright begins at sunrise or as he said, "maybe a little before or until something weird makes a noise outside my tent or something like that."
He takes on about thirty miles a day and will set up camp wherever he can. Along the way, he's taken in the views, met new four-legged friends, and even helped reunite a dog with its owners.
He's learned a few things along the way too.
"Rather than stressing about the future and focusing on the present and relying on that and what you can control has helped me overcome a lot of mental challenges," Bright said. "Just truly the ability to overcome long-term challenges just by staying in the present."
Bright has documented his journey on his Instagram. For more information follow him at @justindoeslife on Instagram.