The Expedition Florida project extends Florida Museum of Natural History’s reach to television viewers across the United States via public television. Winner of four Emmy Awards and the Edward R. Murrow Award for radio feature writing, the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Expedition Florida project introduces audiences of all ages to the natural wonders of Florida’s past and present with the hope of conserving and preserving them for future generations.
Inspired in 1996 by producers Leslie M. Gaines and Stephen Robitaille, Ph.D., the program is designed to take viewers on a journey that explores Florida’s natural beauty. Personal encounters with these natural sights and sounds help viewers develop a sense of place about Florida and its rapidly vanishing habitats and wildlife. Expedition Florida is now produced by Gaines and his partner Mailande Becker Holland. Their production company, Dragonfly Productions, Inc. is based in Gainesville.
In July 2003 Peter Matthiessen and Whooping Cranes, a segment from the film Expedition Florida: The Wild Heart of Florida, was selected as a finalist for Best Short Program in the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival competition from a field of more than 550 entries. The films will be screened and judged at the festival in September 2003. The segment also won an Emmy Award in the category for best News/Public Affairs segments from the South Florida Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2002. The segment explored the successful restoration of America’s largest bird to its native habitat in Florida.
Expedition Florida: The Wild Heart of Florida and Expedition Florida: Wild Alachua were awarded three first place national awards in the Natural History, Conservation and Environment, and Backpacking, Hiking and Biking categories by the Outdoor Writers Association of America in 2003. In addition, The Wild Heart of Florida was chosen for the OWAA President's Award as “best of the best,” competing with all other first place national winners.
In spring 2001 Expedition Florida: From Exploration to Exhibition, the first of the Expedition Florida series won the Edward R. Murrow Award for Feature Reporting from the Radio and Television News Directors Association.
In November 2000 Expedition Florida won three Emmy Awards for documentary excellence. A segment from the Expedition Florida Wild Files about the threatened Florida scrub jay was nominated for an Emmy Award in November 1999. Wild Files also won the natural history award for broadcast excellence from the Outdoor Writers Association of America in June 2000.
Gaines has won Emmys for several of his documentary projects including Florida Outdoors-Mullet Wars in 1991, Standing Tall and Strong-The Florida Seminole Elders Project in 1995 and Black Bears and Biodiversity and The Gulf of Mexico: America’s Shining Sea in 1998.
In January 1999 a music video, Ways of the Glades, produced for James Billie, Tribal Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, was selected for screening at the most prestigious exhibition of independent films in the United States, Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival. Mr. Gaines lives in Gainesville, Florida and enjoys fly-fishing, hunting, dual-sport motorcycling and flying bush planes.
Becker Holland, Dragonfly Productions President and Business Manager (B.A., Duke University, 1974, M.A.T., Duke University, 1976), is actively involved in the Gainesville, Florida philanthropic community.
Becker is the past president of the Junior League of Gainesville, a recent member of the Nominating Committee of the Association of Junior Leagues International, and current board member of the Children’s Home Society. With her guidance, support and fundraising talents these community organizations help thousands of children and less fortunate Floridians each year.
She has coordinated many annual events including Puttin’ on the Ritz, The Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook Golf Scrambles for Kids and the Dream Car Giveaway. Her recent video production, Every Child Deserves A Happy Childhood has raised over $125,000 for the Children’s Home Society. Now, she brings her talents to her film production company, Dragonfly Productions, Inc. in Gainesville where she is the business manager for the Emmy winning Expedition Florida series produced in cooperation with the Florida Museum of Natural History.