In 1968, Richard M. Eckenrod moved to the Tampa Bay area for an engineering job with Westinghouse Electric Corporation. After falling in love with the bay habitat, Eckenrod changed his career path, earning a graduate degree from Louisiana State University in marine science in 1977. In 1990, Eckenrod became the director of the Tampa Bay National Estuary Program (TBNEP), which was later renamed the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP). Eckenrod served as its executive director until his retirement in 2007.
During this interview, Eckenrod discusses the history of the TBEP, including its regulatory foundations and underlying organizational structure. He recalls the actions taken by TBEP to restore and protect Tampa Bay such as the development of the Comprehensive Management Plan, a document that set forth quantifiable goals for bay improvement in areas such as seagrass restoration and pollution reduction. Eckenrod describes collaborative management strategies necessary for stakeholder cooperation in balancing both economic and environmental concerns. Eckenrod finishes his interview discussing the importance of education and implementation of science-based techniques in addressing future environmental challenges such as the rising sea level and exponentially increasing population.