Steve Newborn

Assistant News Director

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues, politics and transportation in the Tampa Bay area.

He’s been with WUSF since 2001, and has covered events such as President George W. Bush’s speech in Sarasota as the Sept. 11 attacks unfolded; the ongoing drama over whether the feeding tube should be removed from Terri Schiavo; the arrest and terrorism trial of USF professor Sami Al-Arian; how the BP Deepwater Horizon spill affected Florida; and he followed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition through the state - twice.

Before joining WUSF, he covered environmental and Polk County news for the Tampa Tribune and worked for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center during the early days of the space shuttle.

Ways to Connect

It's been 1,000 miles in nearly 100 days. They started at the tip of the Everglades, and Sunday, members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition reached the finish line - Georgia. Their goal is to connect the state's WUSF's Steve Newborn has been following the group, and reports on their mission - and whether it has a chance of succeeding.

Expedition member Carlton Ward Junior remembers slogging for days through the heart of the Everglades on kayak...

Members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition sport calluses and legs hardened by three months of hiking through saw grass, palmetto stands and piney woods.

On Sunday, these four adventurers mark the end of a 1,000-mile trek across Florida, from the tip of the Everglades to the Okefenokee Swamp.

We've seen the possible health hazards from the dispersant used to keep oil from the damaged Deepwater Horizon well from fouling Gulf beaches.

Now, a University of South Florida engineering professor and a team of researchers think they might have a solution. They found that mucilage from the common and easily grown prickly pear cactus – already known to clean toxic compounds from drinking water – also works as a natural, non-toxic dispersant for oil spills.

That stinging feeling that sometimes accompanies trips to the beach during outbreaks of red tide can be especially harmful to people with asthma. Now, researchers are trying to find out why some asthmatics are affected by red tide.

Anyone who ventures to the Gulf shore during red tide season knows the symptoms: irritated eyes and noses, a dry cough - even wheezing. For people with asthma, it's even worse.

Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

Part of the 1,000-mile trail the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is blazing through Florida passes through what may seem an unlikely place: the main training base for the Florida National Guard. WUSF's Steve Newborn reports on how the armed forces are armed with another mission: helping protect the state's wildlife.

One of the people invited to President Obama's speech at the Port of Tampa is Eileen Rodriguez, director for the Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida.

She's been working with the SBDC since 1997, providing one-on-one confidential counseling and teachings seminars in English and Spanish on small business start-up, international trade, and women and minority certification.

Steve Newborn

One-thousand miles-- that's how far the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is kayaking, cycling and walking.  This week, they're crossing the Ocala National Forest. I recently hiked just nine of those miles, and walked away several blisters and a new appreciation for what they're doing.

It's dawn at Hopkins Prairie, a primitive campground deep in the Ocala forest. I unzip my tent and head through the morning fog to see what Rick Smith is up to.

As they thread their way north, members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition have come across one of their biggest barriers - Interstate 4.  And if humans have a hard time crossing the busy highway  --  what does that mean for wildlife?
 
Expedition members have paddled through the heart of the Everglades without seeing anyone else for days.

They've high-stepped through snake-and-alligator-infested swamps.

TAMPA - An East Tampa Church was overflowing Tuesday night as community members came out in support of the family of slain teenager Trayvon Martin.  Nearly a thousand people packed the pews at the 34th Street Church of God, standing and swaying to the orators who evoked the plight of Martin as a return to the early days of the civil rights movement.

TAMPA - A lot of students go to College - but they end up leaving without that sheepskin up on the wall. Nearly 700,000 people in the Tampa Bay area alone have some college experience - but no degree. That's the work from a new consortium of local university, college and business leaders who want to get them back in the classroom.

 They call it Graduate Tampa Bay.

 Hillsborough Community College President Ken Atwater says there's several common things every local college and university is doing to improve graduation rates.

TAMPA - While thousands protested in Sanford in support of the family of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, a group of activists gathered in Tampa at the University of South Florida to call for justice in the Martin case. 

Emmanual Catalan is chair of the USF College Democrats.

 " I, as an African-American, should not be fearful of walking down a street and worry about the prospects of me being gunned down, because I fit the stereotype of a criminal because I'm wearing a hoodie, " he said, "and most importantly, I happen to be black."

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition started their trek in January at the tip of the Everglades, and they plan to end it next month at the Okeefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

The police chief of Sanford has "temporarily resigned," pending an investigation into his department's handing of the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Bill Lee offered to step down this afternoon in a press conference outside Sanford City Hall.

TAMPA - Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is back in the news - this time, he's been sued for jailing minors near adults.

That's according to a federal lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group argues that putting minors as young as 8 in the same building with adults is a violation of their rights. Members declined to say why any of the minors had been arrested.

Lisa and Kevin Jobe say their 15-year-old son was mistreated at the jail. The couple spoke earlier today on the steps of the Tampa Federal courthouse.

Steve Newborn

LAKE PLACID - The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is nearing the halfway mark of their trip up the length of Florida - 1,000 miles in 100 days. Their mission is to publicize the need to connect the state's disjointed wild areas into a continuous wildlife corridor. WUSF's Steve Newborn recently caught up with the group for an update.

USF is facing a budget cut of around 20 percent. That could affect everything from summer school to the operation of the new pharmacy college.

Senate budget chief JD Alexander is says USF should dip into its reserve fund to offset the cuts. But USF Board of Trustees Chairman John Ramil says the university can't do that.

It's mandated to set aside a percentage of its budget - and it has to keep cash on hand for an emergency, such as a hurricane.

In an interview with WUSF, former Sen. George LeMieux is standing behind his decision to attack Rep. Connie Mack as the Charlie Sheen of Florida politics.

The Republican Senate primary campaign in Florida has heated up fast, after information about Connie Mack IV's legal troubles -- including fistfights and financial woes -- was published in the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

Now, LeMieux's campiagn is using that information in "Two and a Half Macks" -- an animated ad on the internet.

Steve Newborn

LAKE PLACID - It all starts with the man who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. His grandson - John Roebling II - inherited more than 1,000 acres in Highlands County, and gave it to Richard Archbold, an aviator and explorer of exotic places such as Madagascar and New Guinea. It's now Archbold Biological Station.

USF President Judy Genshaft expressed some relief after hearing that state Senators trimmed USF's share of its budget cut from nearly 60 percent to 23 percent. But she hopes the cuts won't last beyond the next year.

Even at the lower level, she says just about every state university will have to scramble to find enough money to continue their current level of operations.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition has just come out of one of the wildest places in Florida - if not the entire country - the Fakahatchee strand. We also speak with Mallory Lykes Dimmitt on how the Babcock Ranch Preserve is faring as a publically-run ranch.

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