2016 Go Blue Awards – Blue Ambassador Finalists






Scott Harris

Scott Harris serves as the President of the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation, a 501C3 nonprofit based in Jupiter. The foundation’s mission is to enhance the marine environment in northern Palm Beach County by providing a conduit for funding artificial reef construction to provide new habitat for marine life that is threatened by a host of issues related to population growth.

• The nonprofit foundation has raised over $700,000 to build new reefs (including a $260,000 deployment agreement with Palm Beach County) since its inception in July 2014 after Harris’ son Andrew lost his life in a boating accident.

• The Foundation placed a new reef made with forty 8,000 pound concrete coral head replicas 1.5 miles northeast of the Jupiter Inlet on August 20, 2015 at a cost of $100,000.

• Many experts have said our reef module creations are the best they have ever seen.

• The 2015 reef is thriving and teeming with marine life.

• There are many pictures and videos of the reef on the foundation’s website and Facebook page.

• The location of artificial reefs is as important as the materials the reefs are made of.

In 2015 Scott discovered and extensively surveyed an ideal shallow sand site on top of a flat plain of bedrock 800 feet east of the 2015 deployment. Presumably this area was once a productive reef before it was smothered by sand. Palm Beach County agreed the site was ideal and worked with the permitting agencies to expand the existing permit boundaries to include this site. The thin sand site is important because the modules won’t sink as they would in deep sand and the module’s natural scouring should re-expose the bedrock and allow marine life to flourish. The Foundation created its second reef on August 8 and 9, 2016 on this ideal new site. After only one day the modules were scouring away significant amounts of sand and exposing bedrock. We expect that the exposed rock will eventually create as much new habitat as the modules themselves. A huge win-win.

The 2016 project used 100 modules of three different designs to create a new reef 700 feet long by 100 feet wide at a cost $260,000. The new Andrew Red Harris Foundation No Shoes Reef is comprised of 50 eight foot tall limestone rock encrusted concrete pyramids, 35 seven foot tall Bahamian coral head replicas of our original design and 15 unique concrete block structures, also of our own design. Scott secured engineered drawings for each of the new designs and was the primary builder of the concrete block modules.

The 2017 reef creation will expand the ideal 2016 site with a combination of the two great designs that Scott created and reef pyramids. Final 2017 module design will be selected after monitoring the 2016 reef.

The Foundation will also be donating 15 of our lagoon size coral head modules for placement on the popular Blue Heron Bridge snorkeling trail in September, 2016. Our modules will serve as beautiful guideposts to protect snorkelers from getting lost while providing great habitat on the trail.

All of the Foundation’s new reefs provide great new habitat for fish and other marine life to spawn and build their populations on as our marine habitat struggles to endure the threats created by population growth, pollution, and invasive exotic species.

Many local residents and environmental supporters have come forward to assist the foundation in its work by donating their time and skills to run the foundation, help build the modules, raise money, run our events and much more. It has truly become a community effort. The Town of Jupiter is a strong supporter and recognizes the foundation as the construction arm of its Comprehensive Plan- mandated artificial reef initiative.

Scott’s specific contributions to marine conservation include building the Andrew Red Harris Foundation into a significant entity for creating, designing and funding artificial reef projects both offshore and inshore.

He has developed the design and construction process and secured engineered drawings for two great reef module designs and discovered a smothered offshore reef the foundation is focused on rehabilitating with the world class artificial reef modules he created. To date Scott has been instrumental in the creation of a beautiful 300 foot by 90 foot artificial reef off Jupiter in August 2015 and in August 2016 a 700 foot by 100 foot artificial reef also offshore of Jupiter.

In September 2016 the foundation will add 15 beautiful coral head replicas to the Phil Foster Park snorkel trail at the Blue Heron Bridge in partnership with the Palm Beach County.

In addition to the 2017 reef project, Scott is working with the Town of Jupiter to create and fund a beautiful 500 gallon aquarium in the Town’s activity center to promote education on the value of our local marine resources.

A significant developing project is using the foundation as the ideal lead fundraising and lobbying entity in a public/ private effort to bring a huge artificial reef eco-tourism project to Jupiter in partnership with the State of Florida and Palm Beach and Martin Counties.

Scott Harris Work History

June 1, 1984 to present
President, Group Insurance Solutions, Inc
Jupiter, Fl

Responsible for sales, service and renewals of employer group insurance accounts. Group Insurance Solutions, Inc represents all of the top group insurance carriers and has reached the highest statewide agency size category with Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of Florida.

Joan Lorne

Joan Lorne’s support for marine conservation began over 20 years ago when I (her daughter, Jackie) showed an interest in marine biology at the age of 12.  She would selflessly drive me every Saturday for 4 years from Delray Beach to the Marinelife Center of Juno Beach (1 hour away) so I could spend the day volunteering.  For two of those four years, she and I also volunteered at the MLC during the nighttime turtle walks.  As she was helping me achieve my dream of becoming a marine biologist (which I did become), she sparked an interest of her own in marine conservation, in particular, sea turtle conservation.  For over the last 10 years, Joan has been a permitted sea turtle monitor for the Town of Gulfstream and a portion of Ocean Ridge.  Several days a week she monitors ~3 miles of local beaches to document new sea turtle nests.

She takes it upon herself to purchase all the stakes we use to mark ~700-900 nests annually on the beaches.  She also paints all the stakes herself.  In addition to this, during hatchling season, my mom typically drives to Gumbo Limbo at least once a week when she finds weak hatchlings on the beach.  Her work however does not stop there.  My mom’s real passion is education.  She typically spends at least 1 extra hour on the beach each of those mornings educating the public.  She has formed more relationships than I can count with tourists and locals alike who anxiously await her on the beach.  She even follows up with many people by sending them additional educational information via email.

My mother also supports St. Vincent Ferrer School in Delray Beach each year during their annual beach clean-up on Earth Day by using our sea turtle monitoring ATV to assist the school with beach clean-up efforts.  My mother was also instrumental in getting world-renowned underwater photographer Chris Gug to speak to St. Vincent Ferrer School during Earth Week in 2016.  The school did not think they could afford to have Chris speak but my mom spoke with Chris and was able to negotiate a lower rate to make it possible for the students to hear him and see his many underwater photos.  My mother also actively promotes marine conservation by speaking regularly with a local newspaper, The Coastal Star, and is a regular contributor of marine conservation related photos to their website.  In addition, whenever my mom meets a child who is interested in marine biology she offers to take them on the beach to shadow her as a sea turtle monitor.

In 2014, my mom, along with other sea turtle monitors on my permit, was awarded the Saint Francis Award by St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church for our work in the area of marine conservation.  I am confident that it was mother’s efforts on the beach several days a week that we received this award.  My mom is also a regular contributor of videos to WPTV to highlight sea turtle awareness and conservation and The Coastal Star newspaper.  See example links below.


Dr. Derek Burkholder PH.D. – Research Associate

Dr. Derek Burkholder, PhD(web)Bio: Derek grew up in Michigan spending a lot of his childhood exploring the woods and spending time on the water (though slightly less salty water than he deals with now). His love for the outdoors and the water started early and on a family vacation to Florida when he was 8, went on a marsh tour with a marine biologist. From that day on he had his mission!

He received his Bachelors degree from Albion College in Albion, Michigan and during that time was first introduced to the amazing world of shark research. After graduation he moved to Florida as a Research Scientist at MOTE Marine Lab for a year before starting his graduate studies. Derek received his PhD from Florida International University in 2012 and is currently working as a Research Associate as part of the Guy Harvey Research Institute and Save Our Seas Shark Center at Nova Southeastern University.

His work at Nova will be focused around building a local shark tagging program in South Florida where we will study shark movements, shark diets, genetic population structure, and will also provide an opportunity for local residents and school kids to participate in the research, and to tag and learn about sharks in the field.

Reference 1:
Dr. Derek Burkholder has been has been working in the world of shark and sea turtle ecology and conservation for over a dozen years. He received his Bachelors degree from Albion College in Albion, Michigan.  During that time, he was first introduced to the amazing world of shark research. After graduating, he moved to Florida as a Research Scientist at MOTE Marine Laboratory for one year before starting his graduate studies. Derek traveled to Shark Bay, Western Australia for his PhD research and received his PhD from Florida International University in 2012.

Derek is currently working as a Research Scientist as part of the Guy Harvey Research Institute and Save Our Seas Shark Center at Nova Southeastern University.  He has assisted Dr. Harvey with all aspects of shark research, including tracking and data analysis. His work at Nova focuses on building a local shark tagging program in South Florida where he is studying shark movements, shark diets, genetic population structure. He is instrumental in educational outreach programs and organizes periodic shark tagging expeditions for the general public, including children as young as eight years of age. The children have the opportunity for a very hands-on experience on these expeditions. They place hooks in the bait, let out the line, and drop the weight. When the sharks are reeled in, the children measure them, take DNA samples, and place the tags in the dorsal fins. It is an extremely exciting and unforgettable experience for everyone, especially the children.

Derek is most interested in predator-prey behavioral interactions and the impact those relationships have on the structure of marine communities and prey populations. He closely examines shark community dynamics, foraging patterns, and habitat use and the movement of shark communities in South Florida and Australia. He visits classrooms in person or via Skype to engage children with sharks and sea turtles. He promotes conservation of all marine species and is the author of dozens of publications.

Derek serves as the Vice President of Sharks4Kids Inc, an educational non-profit organization working to bring shark education and conservation to kids of all ages around the world.  He organizes numerous dives and snorkeling trips with sharks for students of all ages. He makes presentations on behalf of Sharks4Kids that stress the need to protect these animals, and supports their functions throughout the country. The goal is to make the future generation one of shark advocates by giving them access to a wide range of educational materials. A curriculum can be provided to Science classrooms as well as games and activities. Shark photography and videos from scientists and conservationists exemplify the ocean’s beauty with students and bring another dimension to the classroom.

Derek is also the Primary Investigator with the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program at Nova, monitoring 24 miles of sea turtle nesting habitat in Broward County. Additionally, he serves as the Director of the Marine Environmental Education Center at the Carpenter House in Hollywood Florida. He also organizes private and public turtle hatchling releases throughout the summer. A one-hour presentation by a sea turtle expert is followed by the release of more than a hundred, on average, hatchlings. Through Derek’s efforts, hundreds of thousands of individuals have been able to witness this miraculous event each summer.

He has allowed Wild Over Wildlife, a non-profit conservation organization, to have private hatchling releases for its members each summer. These releases were held on a donation only basis in order to engage hundreds of students and their families with sea turtles. Derek also served as the primary consultant on the organization’s award-winning short documentary, “The Real Shark Attack” which will be followed up this year by “Tag”, another film on shark conservation, where he has given his time freely in order to assist the children. His wealth of knowledge has been priceless. Dr. Derek Burkholder has devoted his life to raising awareness about the ocean. He works and volunteers as one of its most important conservationists.

Reference 2:
I would like to nominate Dr. Derek Burkholder, PH.D. for Blue Ambassador of the year. Derek Is the Lead Scientist & Education Coordinator of the Sharks4Kids Organization. Sharks4Kids is an organization that’s goal is to create a new generation of shark advocates through games, activities, and experiences and to get more shark education in the schools through the teachers and groups. S4K also offers first hand experiences to children in south Florida to learn on a boat along with shark scientists and experts. He is a resident of south Florida and works hard to educate our youth on the importance of sharks. Dr. Derek’s main job as Research Associate  with the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at NOVA Southeastern doesn’t stop him from using the Sharks4 Kids Organization as an outlet to reach youth and get them excited to learn about, understand, and want save sharks. On Dr. Burkholder’s spare time, he also attends, speaks at and participates in many events such as Shark Con reaching out to thousands of children.

Derek’s work at NOVA Southeastern University has allowed him to partner up with Guy Harvey to further educate the community about the importance of sharks. They offer ages 8 and up to go on shark tagging trips, the participants are literally a part of the science while on the boat doing the work such as baiting, letting out line, pulling it in and actually helping tag. I had the opportunity to be on a shark tagging trip with Dr. Derek Burkholder and it was the most exciting thing that I have done so far in my years of citizen science work, I’m only 15 but it made me want to do that forever. I was contacted by Time Magazine to be a “Kid Hero For the Planet” this year and when I had an interview with them, the main thing they wanted to publish about was my shark experience because of how I lit up talking about my time with Dr. Derek. I KNOW that he deserves this award because he is doing exactly what he says he wants to do in creating a new generation of shark advocates…I am proof as well as other Blue Awards Youth recipients that I work with! Please consider him for the Blue Ambassador of the Year for His Sharks4Kids work and also the Blue Friend for his work with NOVA and Guy Harvey.

Nicholas Ogle

Nicholas Ogle photo(web)Nicholas Ogle graduated with honors from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a minor in marine biology. Therefore, he is uniquely equipped to work with coastal ecosystems. He is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for the School of Environment, Arts and Society at FIU, or SEAS. SEAS is committed to understanding the natural world, our place in it, and addressing the challenges that arise from the interactions between humans and the environment. Through research, education, and an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas, SEAS strives to bring about positive, palpable changes on local, national, and international levels.

Along with SEAS and its partners, Nicholas is dedicated to providing experiential and service learning opportunities for K-12 students in the South Florida community. He accomplishes this through in class programming and guided field experiences. He works closely with schools in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties and oversees a myriad of education and outreach programs aimed at getting students of all ages engaged with the natural world. Some of his projects include Coastlines to Classrooms, Discover Our Backyard, and EcoAcademy Summer Camp. He also runs several on-campus service learning events such as coastal clean ups, invasive species removals and native ecosystem plantings using sea oats as well as mangroves. Through “Adopt a Mangrove,” a seedling is dedicated to a person, nurtured in FIU’s Shade House, then replanted to reinforce mangrove forests or to areas where mangroves had been removed in the past. Additionally, he has worked diligently with high school students from the MAST@FIU (Marine Academy of Science and Technology) program to engage them with native ecosystems which gives them hands-on experiences with scientific procedures. He helps them understand the environmental problems and solutions. With the students, he is exploring long-term data used to determine the effects of seasonal and environmental changes on juvenile fish species in Biscayne Bay.

However, in addition to his official duties at FIU, Nicholas volunteers countless hours to local clubs and conservation organizations throughout the state. His commitment to restoring native habitats is commendable. During the late summer months each year, Nicholas harvests and grows more than one thousand red mangrove seedlings. In 2016 alone, over 1500 red mangrove seedlings collected in 2015 have been used to restore areas in Miami, Vero Beach, along the Indian River Lagoon, and on the Galt Preserve in St. James City. Nicholas not only inspired, but tirelessly supported, Wild Over Wildlife’s mangrove restoration program for the past few years. Together, they have partnered with National Honor Society chapters in SE and SW Florida, Florida Conservation 2020, Lee County 4-H Club, Pelican Harbor, the Brevard County Zoo, and Marine Clean-up Initiative. Additionally, mangroves are being used in the St. Lucie Spoil Island Project to enhance and preserve the Indian River Lagoon Spoil Islands. This project is working in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Aquatic Preserve as well as other state and local agencies.

Nicholas’ dedication to helping our coastlines and shaping the future generation is remarkable and apparent in his work at FIU and on his own time. He believes community-based ecosystem restorations are invaluable outreach tools because they offer the public a chance not only to see and understand the costs of environmental degradation, but also to take ownership of their local natural resources. They empower the public to make a real difference with tangible results. Nicholas possesses a wealth of knowledge and shares it freely by making presentations at schools, camps, and clubs. He is extremely generous with his time donating countless hours in the heat of the day after driving several hours to a site in order to improve our coastal habitats. His commitment to improving our environment have not only added beauty to Florida’s coastlines, but have also protected them from damaging storms while providing shelter for numerous species of birds, reptiles, fish, and mammals. The impact has affected millions of lives in the state of Florida.

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