Jacob F. "Jake" Stowers III has worked for Pinellas County for over 33 years. Born in Clearwater and raised in Safety Harbor, Stowers attended the University of Florida where he earned his bachelor’s degree in forestry in 1966 and his master’s degree in agriculture in 1969. After working as a Biological Technician for the US Department of Interior, Stowers moved to Ft. Lauderdale to work as an environmental planner and became the city's first Urban Forester. In 1974, Stowers moved back to Pinellas County to accept a position as Urban Forester for the county. During his time with Pinellas County, Stowers held several progressively important managerial positions including Director of the Pinellas County Environmental Department and Assistant County Administrator for Planning and Development. In 2005, Mr. Stowers was recognized by Congressman Bill Young in the US Congressional Record as an administrator who "poured his life and soul for more than 30 years into giving our urban community an abundance of green spaces and outdoor recreational opportunities."
In this interview, Stowers provides an overview of his role in promoting sustainable development for Pinellas County and discusses the importance of community engagement. Stowers shares his views on how to balance environmental stewardship with responsible economic development and how to secure the preservation of environmentally sensitive lands through monies generated by taxes and grants. Stowers also explains how Pinellas County promotes community development by creating practical ordinances that allow for realistic conservation and restoration.