Mural Tribute at Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center

The colorful art installment to honor the area’s history and natural beauty has an anticipated debut of April 22 — Earth Day

Audrey Berlie, ’24

Leaving an environmental legacy is clearly a passion and priority for Audrey Berlie, ’24, an Environmental Science and Environmental Business double major.

Jason Evans, PhD

Berlie and Jason Evans, PhD, associate professor of environmental science and studies at Stetson, are leading a mural project at the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center.

The Aquatic Center is a 10,000-square-foot building that’s surrounded by the William Bartram Trail and gardens along the western shore of Lake Beresford in DeLand. The two-story center provides a permanent home for Stetson’s intercollegiate rowing teams, a space for water study and research and non-motorized public recreation access to the lake. 

Stetson Aquatic Center

The public mural will be painted on the building of the restroom facility. The installment honors the rich Native American heritage of the area, as well as the area’s exploration by 18th-century naturalist William Bartram. The mural will depict a wide and colorful variety of native plants, artifacts, wildlife and features of the Florida peninsula.

“It will combine so well with the William Bartram Trail,” said Berlie.

“Transforming the industrial look of the restroom facility to a beautiful space will awaken engagement, discussions, lessons and all sorts of creative things that pertain to preserving the environment in this area,” 

Berlie and Evans commissioned master Florida naturalist Johnny Dame to create the historic piece. 

Johnny Dame, commissioned artist for the mural project.

“In addition to the aerial bird’s-eye view of Lake Beresford and it’s connection to the St. John’s River, I’ve included many elements,” Dame commented. “I have included authentic vignettes of the St. John’s River native projectile points, shell mounds, indigenous snails, native pottery designs, sandhill cranes and other birds, William Bartram and his storm experience at Lake Beresford, a map of the St. John’s River Watershed and so much more.” The map also shows the corresponding connection to the Kissimmee, Okeechobee and Everglades Watershed.

The project has a four-tiered focus: a call for student artists, the mural installation, fundraising and a celebration.

Call for Artists

Jason Evans, PhD, Johnny Dame and student Casey Ramey going over the details of the mural design.

“By the students and for the community,” is the goal of the project. The hope is to enlist the help of Stetson students to draw and paint the mural design under Dame’s guidance. Students will be paid $12 an hour and no experience required to participate. 

Mural Installation

The mural, from concept to completion, will include a team of students who will be mentored, guided and supported by Dame. “I want to educate the students on everything from design to preparation to proper disposal of paints,” said Dame.

Students will have the chance to sit under the site’s majestic oak trees, glean high-level artistic techniques and create a historical mural that they can visit for long years afterward.


Funds, of course, are needed. The project is a labor of love that is intended to attract interest from educators across Stetson’s broad spectrum of academia.

Stetson Water Institute logo

“I want every professor from every discipline to be able to come and teach off of this mural,” Dame said.

Berlie and Evans are thankful to the generous donors Jill Jinks and Chris Shuster, who serve on the Board of Trustees for the Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience (IWER). Additional giving by others is being requested.

Visit Giving to the IWER Mural project – Stetson University or scan the QR code below on ways to support this project.

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an adult and child's hands cup a globe of Earth


Saturday, April 22 — Earth Day — is the anticipated debut date for the mural’s public reveal. Along with a ceremony, the dedication celebration will feature live music, artists’ meet and greet and food.

For questions or to join the team of muralists, email Audrey Berlie at [email protected] or Jason Evans at [email protected].

-Alicia Scott