James “Jimmy” Youngman is a longtime resident of the Gibsonton area near Hillsborough Bay. Youngman’s family has a long history in Tampa Bay, originally settling in the area at the end of the 19th century. As some of the earliest homesteaders in the area, Youngman’s family worked for notable Tampa institutions such as Alessi Bakery and US Phosphoric. His family also fished and farmed the area known as “The Kitchen” and witnessed several dramatic environmental changes that occurred during the past century. An avid outdoorsman, Youngman came into contact with several National Audubon Society wardens during his lifetime and was asked by Richard T. Paul to fill a warden position in the 1980s.
In this interview, Youngman discusses his family’s homesteading history on the east shore of Hillsborough Bay, their livelihood in the Tampa Bay area, and the historical transitions the bay has experienced during his lifetime. Youngman recounts his time fishing and farming on the bay as well as his experiences with its avian and aquatic populations. He describes his family’s early interactions with Fred Schultz, the first Audubon warden in Tampa Bay, who protected the Green Key wading bird colony. He also recalls life on the Alafia River and describes various area islands including Bird Island, Grassy Key, Green Key, Peanut Key, Sunken Island, and Whiskey Stump Key. He recalls the impact of dredging and an exponentially increasing population on the area’s wildlife and vegetative environments. Youngman concludes his interview by sharing his experiences with Tampa Bay Audubon wardens, his own time as an Audubon warden, and his thoughts on bay restoration.