Francine Hutchinson is a retired, Nationally Board Certified Biology Teacher. She has taught at various schools in the Cleburne County, Jacksonville City, and Oxford City School Systems, and also as an Adjunct Instructor at Jacksonville State University and Gadsden State Community College. She received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Jacksonville State University. A long-time environmental educator, she has taught classes for JSU Field Schools since its inception in 1991. She currently works part-time as Assistant Curator of the Jacksonville State University Herbarium. She has worked as a volunteer environmental activist for many years as a Trainer for Alabama Water Watch.
She also served with her husband, Bruce on the Alabama Environmental Council as chairs of the Dugger Mountain Wilderness Project. Other environmental issues she has worked with include Calhoun County Monthly Recycling (1988-1993), Families Concerned With Nerve Gas Incineration, and with the group that began planning for the Chief Ladiga Trail (Anniston Chapter of the Alabama Conservancy). Most recently she has been working with several groups in an effort to ban drilling for natural gas (fracking) in the Talladega National Forest, and currently serves on the Alabama Water Watch Association Board of Directors. Francine and her husband Bruce currently live in Cleburne County as northeastern neighbors to the National Forest, on a hobby farm with a cat, seven chickens, and six rescue dogs that provide hours of entertainment for their 14 visiting grandchildren.
1. Francine, where do you call home?
Borden Springs, Alabama; I live next to the northeastern boundary of the Talladega National Forest.
2. What stream, river, lake, bay, bayou is your favorite water-spot?
All of them, never met a creek I didn’t like. I monitor Terrapin Creek; I love the Coosa in Alabama, the Snake River in WY, grew up around Guntersville Lake, marveled at San Francisco Bay, snorkeled reefs around Hawaii, and love the Tensaw Delta. You probably wanted me to pick one of the above but there’s so many!
3. What water recreation/sports do you enjoy most?
Kayaking and hiking.
4. What got you interested in Alabama Water Watch?
Seeing the sad degradation of beautiful clear streams that I played in as a kid.
5. What are your biggest challenges/issues in your favorite watershed?
Deforestation and siltation, bacterial and agricultural pollution.
6. Do you have some ‘lessons learned’ that you could pass on to the rest of us relative to watershed stewardship?
Keeping forests intact is about the simplest, all-around big lesson that I have learned. The other is, don’t bother litterers, just pick up after them when they leave the area. Lastly, DO NOT paddle the Tallapoosa River above flood stage in a “strange” canoe!