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Vol. 15 No. 8 - December 17, 2014

reel time

Youth leaders aid Sarasota Bay Watch

Reel time

rusty chinnis | sun

Volunteers were a huge help at this year’s highly successful Scallopalooza.

One of Sarasota Bay Watch’s (SBW) main agendas has been to build a strong base of youth volunteers who can learn and practice the leadership skills to carry on SBW’s mission of preserving and restoring Sarasota Bay's ecosystem into the future through education and citizen participation. Over the years, this work has been growing with the assistance of college and post graduate interns as well as college and high school interns.

One of SBW’s first interns, Samantha Jones, helped kick-start the fishing line volunteer cleanups and was instrumental in developing and implementing the first Scallopalooza. That event laid the foundation for many of the subsequent fundraising efforts. Jones graduated from the University of Florida with an environmental engineering degree and is now actively employed as an environmental engineer.

College intern Brant McCarville updated SBW’s social media campaign and integrated live Facebook posts into the Scallopalooza fund-raising program. Besides helping to organize and coordinate the volunteers, McCarville helped SBW increase the fund-raiser’s income from $14,000 in 2012 to over $25,000 in 2013. He graduated from the University of Florida with a business degree.

Mote Marine intern Amy Johnson was involved in almost every SBW scallop release during 2012 and early 2013. She touched over 25 million scallop larvae during that time. Graduating from Cornell College, she has now begun a graduate study program in medical health care.

Mote Marine intern Kevin Burnette was part of almost every SBW scallop release team in 2013 and helped distribute and document the release of over 20 million scallops.

Other Mote interns worked on the Community Partnership Scallop Restoration Initiative. They included Hilary Hastings, who is in a graduate study program in marine biology; Rebecca Richardson, who is also in graduate study in marine biology; and Isabella Soutullo, who intends to use scallops for her thesis project at New College.

Zoe Myzyczka works on conducting surveys and is writing a report on the scallop surveys conducted to date. She helped create a survey to gauge changing community awareness about scallops and bay restoration over time. Another intern, Elspeth Boynton, contributed in development of environmental public policy.

In other areas of the community, 27 Ringling College of Art and Design students worked on increased awareness of watershed issues and best practices, as well as promoted environmental stewardship. This was accomplished by creating interactive watershed display designs, interactive video quizzes, educational coloring books and animated informational videos. They also created printed take-away materials to enhance and extend the watershed learning experience.

There were many high school volunteers over the past years including Tanner Stults who created a very successful marine field guide for SBW entitled, “What the Heck is That?” This field guide has been donated to numerous school programs, youth sailing programs and environmental programs, as well as Manatee and Sarasota County parks and volunteer programs. Stults who also helped organize and run numerous volunteer events is currently studying business at Cornell University.

In leadership roles high school and college students were instrumental in advancing SBW’s mission. Katie Stults help run numerous volunteer events and supported multiple Scallopalooza fundraisers. She eventually graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in elementary education and is seeking her master’s degree in education.

Lauren Jeffrey, SBW’s first student board member was instrumental in multiple Scallopalooza fundraisers, volunteer events and scallop releases. She is attending the University of Georgia.

Zack Jordan, SBW’s second student board member is currently an active board member. In addition to participating over the years in SBW volunteer events, he uses the SBW marine field guide in a program he developed to take Boys and Girls Club kids out on the water for kayak nature tours. He is currently enrolled at Pine View High School.

Delainey Deitz, SBW’s third student board member is currently an active board member. In addition to participating in SBW volunteer events, she is taking a leadership role in SBW’s social media campaign. Deitz is enrolled at Riverview High School. Rebecca Leopold has participated at various volunteer events and was in charge of photography at multiple Scallopalooza events. Leopold is currently attending Boston University.

Other SBW high school student volunteers active in promoting environmental stewardship and volunteerism include Rosalyn Delfino, Lexi Schnapp, Emily Schofield John Schofield and Christian Harris. Dozens of Mote high school student interns also helped measure and categorize fishing line and tackle removed from the bay during SBW monofilament clean up events.

There has also been many middle school student volunteers working tirelessly with SBW. Tommy Johnson, Nathan Turoff and Jake Westman, who after watching an interactive watershed demonstration at the Community Foundation of the Gulf Coast (CFGC) last year, stepped in and ran all the rest of the demonstrations at the 2103 CFGC Fall Family Festival. They returned for the 2014 Fall Family Festival and again demonstrated the power of students teaching students. They have introduced hundreds of young people and their families to watershed issues and good watershed practices.

Other students that have been involved in assisting Sarasota Bay Watch’s efforts include Ellie Martin, Scallopalooza; Jack Martin, Scallopalooza and scallop releases; Grace Johnson, CFGC Fall Family Festival, Nathan Turoff, CFGC Fall Family Festival; Finn Johnson, CFGC Fall Family Festival; and Jack Ryan, numerous scallop releases.

If you know a student who is interested in the bay and would like to participate have them call 941-918-2700. As the SBW motto states, “A healthy bay is everybody’s business”

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