The Education Committee each year nominates a writer and artist to receive the Florida House Distinguished Author and the Florida House Distinguished Artist award. For authors, the Committee examines the nominees' published work of fiction or non-fiction, and determines who best represents the diverse culture and history of the Sunshine State. For artists, the Committee examines themes relating to Florida in a variety of mediums.
Randy Wayne White and C. Ford Riley with their awards at the Spring Board of Trustees Meeting
C. Ford Riley, Artist
Wandering the backwoods and byways of the South, studying the patterns of the seasons and documenting wildlife and their environment, C. Ford Riley is known for the rich detail and dramatic color he brings to his extraordinary paintings. “You have to portray nature in the sense that it’s got to be right. You don’t just put trees in the landscape for the sake of there being trees. You’ve got to know that they’re part of that habitat. You’ve got to be true to nature.” He is an ardent conservationist who rallies on behalf of Florida wildlife and habitat hard pressed by current development practices, striving for a balance between the needs of man with those of nature. His studio is situated along the banks of the St. John’s River, nestled in the midst of four acres covered with Ruella, wild azaleas, bracken, ferns, oak trees and magnolias. He is an award-winning artist whose work has been featured from the White House to the Florida State Capital. He has been featured in national and international art exhibits including Ducks Unlimited, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, the Federal Duck Stamp Competition and the Thomasville Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival.
Randy Wayne White, Author
New York Times best selling author Randy Wayne White was named a “Florida Literary Legend” in 2011 by the Florida Heritage Book Festival in part for his 20 Doc Ford novels. Drawing on his 13 years experience as a fishing guide at Tarpon Bay Marina in Sanibel Island, his novels feature marine biologist Dr. Marion Ford and quirky pal, Tomlinson. His new Doc Ford novel, “Cuba Straits” is due to be released in March, 2015. He has recently begun a new series of “Hannah Smith” novels about a fishing guide that is a “formidable” descendant of generations of strong Florida women with a keen sense of justice. Randy was a monthly columnist for Outside magazine and has traveled the world, writing about natural history, archaeology, anthropology, travel and politics. He covered the America’s Cup in Australia and has written about Africa, Sumatra, Singapore, Central America, Vietnam, Borneo, Malaysia, the Caribbean and South America. Randy is an avid conservationist having worked with , Save the Tarpon and local guides to bring awareness to the fragile estuary system in Florida and the entire Gulf of Mexico. His national PBS documentary The Gift of the Game about taking baseball gear to children in Cuba won the Best of Festival Award at the Woods Hole Film Festival. He also owns the Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grill on Sanibel Island and in Fort Myers Beach.
Gary R. Mormino, Ph.D., Author
A. E. 'Beanie' Backus, Artist *Deceased
Niki and Clyde Butcher, Artists
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Author *Deceased
Christopher M. Still, Artist
Carlton W. Ward, Jr., Author
Jackson Walker, Artist
Bob Beatty, Author
The Highwaymen, Artists