Congratulations to all of this year’s finalists!
The winners will be announced at the Eighth Annual Go Blue Awards Luncheon,
being held at PGA National Resort & Spa on Friday, October 28, 2016.

 

Eleanor Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award Finalists:

The recipient of the Eleanor Fletcher Award exemplifies a lifelong, extraordinary commitment to marine conservation education through their work or volunteer activities similar to Loggerhead Marinelife Center Founder Eleanor Fletcher.

George H. Burgess

George Burgess

As the Florida Program for Sharks Director at the Florida Museum of Natural History, George Burgess has been involved in shark research and conservation for over 40 years. The Florida Program for Shark Research is one of four programs comprising the National Shark Research Consortium. The objectives of this consortium are to increase the scientific knowledge of sharks and to develop public outreach and conservation initiatives. The Florida Program for Sharks also includes the International Sawfish Encounter Database and the International Shark Attack File and hosts the distinguished website focusing on shark research, fishery management and conservation.

The Florida Program for Sharks collection of nearly 220,000 shark specimens is contained in bottles that range in size from very small pill-sized bottles to large tanks. This extensive collection is one of the top 10 in North America and is located in the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. With the steady decline in shark populations these are an immensely important record of the many shark species.

The International Shark Attack File is a digital and paper collection of records housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The records include thousands of files of medical records, victim interviews and photographs of shark-related wounds. The File was started in 1958 with Navy funding and moved from several locations until ending up in Gainesville in 1988. It was originally created in an attempt to develop a shark repellent for the Navy. George Burgess along with shark biologist from around the world use these records for their research studies. It’s significant to note that the collection has helped shatter the myths about how often bites occur and their severity, and lead to better medical treatment for bite victims.

According to Florida Today, “Burgess’ fascination with the ocean’s apex predators has continued for the four decades that he has studied sharks professionally. ‘No matter how much research is done, he said, there is always more to learn.’

Sharks are about 400 million years old and have been ‘fine-tuning an evolutionary plan that has helped them survive that long, and developed them into fine predators,’ he said. ‘That’s largely built around their senses. They’re basically swimming sensory machines.’

As a kid, Burgess would linger over undersea pictures of sharks in Jacques Cousteau’s 1953 book “The Silent World.” He was fascinated by the ocean’s most “charismatic” predator. But he was scared of the water, because he had asthma and feared he could not breathe. His parents bought him a snorkel and mask, which opened up his world.
He began collecting specimens, pickling them in formaldehyde.

“I had jars in my bedroom, much to the chagrin of my mother,’ Burgess said. ‘You couldn’t throw away a mayonnaise jar in my house. That was a specimen jar.’

Burgess spent decades aboard boats for field work to study and tag sharks and rays and sawfish.” He has worked for more than 40 years to further the study of sharks, debunk the myth that they are man-eating monsters and promote conservation of these important apex predators.

Research Interests
Life history, ecology, systematics, fishery management and conservation of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays); shark attack; systematics and biogeography of fishes; management and conservation of aquatic ecosystems and their faunas and floras, especially the marine environment.

Ongoing Fieldwork

  • Survey of the marine ichthyofauna of southwestern Florida, particularly the Florida Keys and Straits of Florida
  • Movements of reef-dwelling elasmobranchs through reef passages in Belize
  • Life history of western Atlantic elasmobranchs
  • Management of western Atlantic elasmobranch populations
  • Systematics of squaloid sharks
  • Conservation of elasmobranchs internationally
  • Maintenance, growth and analyses of the International Shark Attack File


Outreach Projects

  • Project Shark Awareness, a program aimed at teaching educators about elasmobranch life history/ecology and the fishery management/conservation needs of the group, so that they can pass on the messages to their students
  • Development and maintenance of a world-class web site focusing on the biology, management and conservation of fishes and elasmobranchs
  • Work with IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group (as Vice Chair), promoting sustainable fisheries and conservation of the world’s elasmobranchs

 

Featured in Science Stories:


Louie Psihoyos

Louie Psihoyos, Executive Director of OPS (Oceanic Preservation Society), is recognized as one of the top photographers in the world. He was hired directly out of college to shoot for National Geographic and created images for the yellow-bordered magazine for 18 years. His ability to bring humanity and wit to complicated science stories carries over to his filmmaking.

An ardent diver and dive photographer, he feels compelled to show the world the decline of our planet’s crucial resource, the oceans. Psihoyos’s life mission is to elevate the awareness and engagement of the global community around the plight of endangered species and our oceans at large by using cutting edge media that ignites global movements.

OPS, the non-profit he founded in 2005, uses film, photography, collaboration, and story-telling to inspire the global community to take action around key environmental issues that threaten endangered species and our oceans at large. Psihoyos’s first documentary film, The Cove, won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary and over 75 other awards around the world. The film garnered immense critical praise and has been seen by millions of viewers worldwide. Additionally, this film has led to at least a 50% decline in dolphin slaughters in Taiji, Japan – the area where his lens was focused for this film project. A worldwide movement to end this brutal tradition was ignited by the film The Cove.

His second film, Racing Extinction, follows a team of artists and activists as they expose the hidden world of extinction with never-before-seen images that will change the way we see the world. The film premiered on Discovery in 220 countries and territories over the course of one day, was seen by over 36 million viewers and sparked the #StartWith1Thing movement.

Always looking for new, innovative ways to bring a spotlight to the issues, Psihoyos was also the creative mind, along with Obscura Digital, behind the unprecedented large-scale building projections onto the United Nations Headquarters and Empire State Building – documented in Racing Extinction. The projections themselves have become a traveling phenomenon, most recently being produced on St. Peter’s Basilica at The Vatican which reached over 147 million people via traditional media, along with 4.2 billion social media impressions. Psihoyos is currently in production on a feature documentary about plant-based super athletes.
This film is due to be released in 2017.

Reference. It is my sincere pleasure to nominate Louie Psihoyos for the Eleanor Fletcher Award as he is a man who personifies artistry, activism, and compassion. Louie has truly dedicated his life to bringing a voice to the voiceless. There is not doubt that Louie has turned his camera lens towards those that need to be in the spotlight the most – those that are unable to speak for themselves, protect themselves, or advocate for themselves. Threatened and critically endangered species are disappearing at one hundred to a thousand times faster than ever previously recorded; Psihoyos is a man is on a mission to shine a light on this issue and strives to ensure that future generations will be able to witness the myriad of species that are all part of a fragile ecosystem we must better protect.

For decades, Louie has been diving the world oceans documenting the beauty and the atrocities that are occurring with dolphins in Taiji, Japan, or the blue whales, mantas, and sharks in corners of the world like Indonesia. And this artist always has one clear intention: use the universal power of film, photography, and cutting edge media to generate attention that will help to protect endangered and threatened species. His work around conservation issues is far from over; Louie is dedicated to making more films, taking more captivating images, and pressing on with global initiatives that serve as a wake-up call for all of humanity. He seeks to create tipping points that galvanize the public around addressing key environmental initiatives before it’s too late.

In addition to film and photography, Louie is a visionary artist and activist that thinks outside of the box. His latest mission to project images of endangered species on iconic buildings around the world is another example of how he is willing to make bold statements in order to bring attention to the plight of endangered wildlife. These projection events require years of negotiating around everything from permits to associated costs, but Louie never gives up on advocating for wildlife; he always presses on as his sense of urgency and passion for conservation is part of every cell in his body. And Psihoyos walks the walks, living as a vegan and working full-time for his non-profit, OPS, and on film projects that address these time sensitive issues around conservation.

I believe he’s quite worthy of being honored with the Eleanor Fletcher Award based on his accomplishments to date, and I’m confident he will continue his important work for many years to come that inspires literally millions of people around the world.


Wolcott Henry

Wolcott Henry is an accomplished underwater photographer with a dedication to marine conservation. As president and chair of the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation and The Henry Foundation, he has aligned himself professionally with foundations which not only share in his commitment to conservation, but are dedicated to support on the ground efforts.

Wolcott has a long history of dedicating his time and expertise in the non-profit field through board service. He served on the board of directors of Earth Echo International, World Wildlife Fund – Philippines, and The Ocean Foundation, which he was a founding chair. His prior board service includes the International League of Conservation Photographers, World Wildlife Fund – US, FotoWeek DC, the Divers Alert Network (DAN), and the Ocean Conservancy. Wolcott also serves on the advisory boards for Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), national council of World Wildlife Fund – US, the Smithsonian Ocean Science Initiative, and the Frost Museum of Science.

Wolcott has worked passionately throughout his career to promote conservation photography – a concept of using underwater imagery to shed light on the unique challenges facing the natural world. He acknowledged the importance of engaging the public in marine conservation issues with an understanding that due to geographical and economical limitations, only a limited portion of the population has the ability to experience life underwater. Wolcott had a desire to bring the underwater world, as he knew it, to everyone. He worked to help establish the marine photo bank, a photo sharing site dedicated to advancing ocean conservation through imagery. The site provides high quality images, at no cost, to the non-profit community for use in public outreach and educational projects.

Wolcott continued his focus to spread conservation education through underwater imagery and collaborated with Dr. Sylvia Earle on two children’s books. The first, Hello Fish and Sea Critters, published by the National Geographic Society, uses dynamic photographic images to engage children in life underwater.  The second, a large format book, titled Wild Ocean, that explores the United States National Marine Sanctuary System.

Wolcott’s commitment to offer support to marine conservation efforts has been evident throughout this career. He is a member of the Consultative Group on Biodiversity – a group of foundations working on environmental issues, where he helped to develop the Marine Working Group to focus specifically on issues impacting oceanic environments.

In 2011, Wolcott was recognized for his many contributions to ocean awareness and conservation when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation.

Despite his long list of accomplishments, Wolcott has remained down to earth, humble, and committed to grass roots conservation efforts. His unique approach to marine conservation is both admirable and inspiring. He exemplifies all that the Eleanor Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award represents.

 

Blue Ambassador of the Year Finalists:

The recipient of the Blue Ambassador of the Year Award exemplifies significant local contributions in marine conservation through volunteer-related activities.

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.

http://www.wptv.com/news/local-news/youreport/turtle-gets-a-helping-hand-a-turtles-trials-and-tribulations
http://thecoastalstar.com/profiles/blogs/coastal-star-sea-turtle-nesting-monitor-is-a-keeper-of-the-nest
http://thecoastalstar.com/profiles/blogs/2014-saint-francis-award-st-joseph-s-episcopal-church-boynton-bea
http://thecoastalstar.com/photo/beachgoers-and-police-gather-around
http://thecoastalstar.com/profiles/blogs/along-the-coast-tiny-hawksbill-rescued-revitalized-released
https://issuu.com/thecoastalstar.com/docs/edition92/1
http://thecoastalstar.com/photo/sea-turtles-and-beach-furniture-do-not-mix
http://thecoastalstar.com/profiles/blogs/along-the-coast-turtle-nesting-season-is-in-full-swing
http://thecoastalstar.com/profiles/blogs/improving-the-odds-for-sea


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.

 

Blue Friend of the Year Finalists:

The recipient of the Blue Friend of the Year Award exemplifies significant contributions in marine conservation through work-related activities. Local and National entries recognized.

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.


Diane Buhler

DBuhler 4x6(web)Resume:
Executive Summary: Experienced professional with significant success in diverse corporate and small business environments. Personally committed to identifying and exceeding goals through effective leadership, strategic planning, sales acumen, empowered teams, technology, communication and strong organizational skills.

Professional Experience
Founder and President Aug ’14 to present
Friends of Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, FL
– Founded and run a non-profit (501c3) that cleans the beaches to remove trash and unnatural debris and to educate the community on the effects of ocean trash, litter and debris on our environment and marine life.
–  Host monthly volunteer events as well as manage a weekday small, paid crew consisting of The Lord’s Place clients.

Office Manager/Processor
Palm Beach First Financial & Mortgage, West Palm Beach, FL
–  Manage and organized client files and correspondence. Performed Processor duties for client loans.

Executive Assistant Mar ’11 to Dec ’12
TomorrowVentures LLC, Palo Alto, CA
–  Acted as liaison and gatekeeper for Managing Partner with a vast network of exclusive contacts with limited supervision in a satellite working environment.
–  Communicated extensively with high profile contacts, portfolio companies and various Boards of Directors on behalf of the Managing Partner of this Venture Capital company.

Manager, Thrift Store Aug ’10 to Jan ’11
The Lord’s Place, West Palm Beach, FL
–  Managed all aspects of the retail store including employees, donations, sales effort and community outreach.

Executive Associate Jan ’06 to July ’10
Wells Fargo, Family Wealth (Calibre, Wachovia pre-merger), Palm Beach, FL
–  Coordinated with management and team in all facets of business development for the Calibre brand in the ultra high net worth market.
–  Managed all facets of opening the office and continued maintenance.
–  Actively involved in community and charitable events as representative of our department.

Executive Sales Manager June ’05 to Oct ’05
Trubamboo LLC, West Palm Beach, FL
–  Marketed and sold bamboo house ware products to wholesale customers.
– Built and strategized internal systems to focus on long-term goals of company with focus on productivity, customer service and high quality products and distribution.

Personal Assistant, Private Family Office Feb ’05 to June ’05
JPBK Holdings, Inc., Palm Beach, FL
– Organized and maintained all facets of the family office. Supported individual in his multiple Chairman, Board positions and committee roles with varied non-profit organizations, both on Palm Beach and Rhode Island.

Client Services, Health Care Advisor Sept ’04 to Jan ’05
Health Source Associates, LLC, West Palm Beach, FL
–  Successfully managed sales team while creating and maintaining department infrastructure.

Client Services, Sales Manager Aug ’02 to Nov ’03
Communicator Inc., White Plains, NY
– Built successful relationships with Securities dealers and top Institutional buy-side accounts.
– Educated and trained securities professionals and Investment Banking professionals on the messaging systems.
– Was instrumental in expanding the customer base to Canada, London and Tokyo.

Renegade Volunteer Sept ’01 to Feb ’02
Ground Zero Relief Effort, New York, NY
– Solicited, organized and transported needed supplies for relief effort to FEMA, OSHA, NYPD, FDNY, Salvation

Army and Red Cross, totaling over $5 million in donated items.
–  Co-Founded a toy drive with the NY Rangers, the Santa Cause Project, and handled all aspects of the event for all children who lost a parent on September 11th.

Executive Recruiter Apr ’98 to Mar ’02
The Horizon Group, New York, NY
–  Built and maintained relationships with Executives at top U.S. and Foreign Investment Banking firms.
–  Recruited, marketed and placed qualified candidates in diverse trading positions, i.e. Corporate Bond Trading Head, Emerging Market sales.
–  Day to day interaction with CEOs, Deputy CEOs, Executive Vice Presidents and Managing Directors.
–  Handled highly confidential information and maintained discretion throughout each interview process.
– Negotiated employee contracts and compensation packages for top level professionals.

Institutional Money Market Sales/Corporate Bond Trader Sept ’87 to May ’96
CS First Boston Corporation, New York, NY and Chicago, IL
–  Advanced career internally in Institutional Taxable Fixed Income Securities.
–  Successfully transitioned from an assistant position to a formal trading position then into sales.

EDUCATION:
State University College, Oneonta, NY May 1987
BS, Major: Business Economics. Minor: Accounting and Business Communications

OTHER:
– Board President, West Palm 100, young professionals giving back. June 2008 to June 2010
– Board Member, West Palm 100. June 2004 to December 2011
– Board Member, Wild Dolphin Project, dolphin research in Bahamas. August 2008 to March 2009
– Board Member, Taras Oceanographic, dolphin research in PB County. 2006 to 2008
– Board Member, Homeless Coalition, homeless advocacy. 2008
– Founding Board Member, Young Friends of the Marshall Foundation, Everglades’ restoration. 2008-2009
– Committee Member, SleepOut to End Homelessness, The Lord’s Place, 2007 to 2010

I am an avid SCUBA diver and environmentalist active in local efforts to manage and protect our natural world. I have
planned, helped plan and hosted many successful fundraising events for local non-profit organizations.

Reference1:
I would like to nominate and recommend my dear friend Diane Buhler to be a recipient of the 2016 Blue Friend of the Year Award. We have known each other since 2002, when we met through mutual scuba diving acquaintances. Right away, I knew Diane and I would be life-long friends as we both share an immense passion for our oceans as well being proactive ambassadors to many worldwide marine conservation efforts. Over the years, Diane’s energy never ceases to stop when it comes to conservation, she has hosted a Conservation International event alongside Sylvia Earle in NY to raise funds for conservation, she was a previous board member for the Taras Oceanographic Foundation, she started the Friends of the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation and has volunteered countless hours and ran the West Palm 100, held successful Great American Clean Up days, collected thousands of plastic caps cleaned, sorted and donated to the charity ‘Caps of Love’, She has assisted me with a Shark Savers (now a part of WILD AID) sharks count program off Palm Beach and has been a longtime supporter of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

In 2013, Diane saw a huge need for help on the beaches of Palm Beach. Through her own volunteer efforts of cleaning enormous sections of beach of ocean pollution, she decided follow her heart, narrow her efforts and focus on the trash and ADOPT Palm Beach via SWA’s Adopt a Spot. One year later, Diane was IRS approved after filing for a non-profit, when she founded Friends of Palm Beach and has since hosted 53 volunteer events totaling over 5,500 man hours and removed over 30,000+ pounds of trash (no seaweed)! With the ongoing mission “to clean the beaches of Palm Beach to remove trash, liter and unnatural debris and to educate the community on the effects of this on our environment” 1 was immediately impressed by Diane’s diligence, hard work, total commitment and appreciation of the marine environment and everyone who volunteers for this cause. Diane has demonstrated a great effort that is making a difference not only on the beaches and marine environment, but also in local communities with the addition of her crew. Her crew is made up of less fortunate, homeless individuals from the “Lord’s Place, an organization that aids homeless families and individuals struggling with homelessness. She has given a chosen few the rare opportunities to work, learn and appreciate our precious marine environment.
It is a great pleasure to support my friend and outstanding ambassador of the marine environment for this well-deserved honor.

Reference 2:
Dear Sir/Madame of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center:
I am writing today to endorse or “second” the nomination of Diane Buhler of Friends of Palm Beach for the 2016 Blue Friend of the Year Award submitted by Tanya G Burnett. I met Diane through the Marshall Foundation around 2006-7, when she started the Friends of the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation. Since then I have witnessed Diane’s ongoing contribution of countless volunteer hours for many important conservation efforts in our immediate area: Listed previously in Tanya’s nomination letter. I love Diane’s love for nature, strong work ethic, persistence and determination to help keep out waterways clean of debris that kill mother nature’s critters :). She evokes total commitment and appreciation of the marine environment and everyone who volunteers for this cause. It is a great pleasure to support my friend an outstanding ambassador of the marine environment for this well-deserved honor.


Dr. Thomas Chesnes

Tom Chesnes doing research 2016 (web)I have known and worked with this dedicated and inspirational educator and researcher since 2002, and think that he is an excellent candidate for this award. Growing up in Florida, Tom became interested in coastal ecosystems/estuaries and the environment at an early age, focused on learning about local flora and fauna. He realized that coastal and estuarine studies provided critical and foundational information for conservation. Study of the entire ecosystem, instead of species by species research, provided more complete information on the interaction of communities with the environment. For instance, in order to understand conservation of the unique Everglades ecosystem and its coastal shores, Tom felt it was critical to study the interaction between fresh water flowing off the land into surrounding marine systems.

Not only has Tom’s extensive research into ecosystems and life history of flora and fauna provided scientifically-based life history and environmental information, but he has taken the next step through educational efforts, and working with managing agencies to apply this information for the benefits of both marine (and fresh water) conservation. He has researched seagrass communities for years in J. D. MacArthur State Park, Lake Worth Lagoon, and  Florida Bay. Seagrasses are part of the base of the food chain and provide food, habitat and mating/nesting sites for large numbers of estuarine and coastal marine fishes and invertebrates, as well as sea turtles and manatees. In-shore areas, including seagrasses and mangroves provide detritus that in turn feed offshore coral and worm reefs. Tom’s long time efforts also include studies of a number of individual species, some of which inhabit or utilize seagrass beds, such as red and gray snappers, Gulf killifish, other marine fish, and mangrove saltmarsh snakes. The ecology of fresh water greater sirens (an important but little-studied amphibian) and the threats posed by invasive Burmese pythons were included in studies of the freshwater Everglades environments. His research into beach re-nourishment and salinity, spatial and temporal patterns in submerged macrophyte communities in Florida Bay added greatly to conservation knowledge and improved resource management efforts.

Besides conducting research projects, Tom has influenced thousands of people concerning the importance of  conservation and ecosystems through volunteer projects, teaching, research and field trip activities involving students from middle school, high school and college. Through these efforts, he has developed close working relationships with staff and managers at several parks, refuges, and natural areas. Tom’s data has influenced a number of managing agencies including: South Florida Water Management, J. D. MacArthur Beach State Park, Grassy Waters, ARM Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida Dept of Environmental Protection, Palm Beach County ERM, and more.

Recently, Tom has taken groups of students and other adults on guided educational tours to the unique Galapagos Islands, thus emphasizing global aspects of marine conservation. He has engaged in many speaking engagements, published articles, and presented his research at numerous  professional conferences in order to provide conservation/environmental education to the public, other scientists and to managing agencies. A key message is to help people  understand how fresh water flow influences coastal and estuarine habitats and the importance of this relationship to conservation of estuarine and marine habitats surrounding Florida.

List of efforts for marine conservation:
1) Conducting research into Florida coastal and estuarine ecosystems since 1995, including studies of specific flora and fauna and environmental factors (temperature, salinity, spatial and temporal patterns) that influence those  communities
2) Performing  work related and volunteer activities, including teaching, field trips, presentations, conferences,  professional publications, Tom has provided much needed environmental/conservation education of  many students from middle school through college level, other researchers, managers, and teachers.
3) Building effective working relationships with parks, nature preserves, refuges, and management agencies such as MacArthur State Park, South Florida Water Management, Everglades National Park, Florida Bay. Palm Beach County ERM, West Palm Beach (Grassy Waters) and Florida DEP.
Tom is highly respected in the scientific and educational communities, and has networked all over the state. I strongly believe that he has contributed, and continues to contribute, significantly to marine conservation through his research, work with students, environmental education, contributions in articles (many co-authored with students) and at conferences, and his ability to work well with agency managers. I believe that he is highly qualified to receive this esteemed award.


Gary Appleson

Garry Appleson Pix(web)Bio: Gary Appelson has a Masters degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and a BA in Political Science with a specialty in Environmental Policy, both from the University of Florida. For the past 20 years he has been involved in environmental advocacy and education, most recently working with several Florida-based nonprofit organizations. In the 1990’s he worked for a Gainesville-based land trust, successfully working to secure protection for and public acquisition of environmental lands in Florida. He then joined Florida Defenders of the Environment as the Coordinator of its Ocklawaha River Restoration Project, aimed at restoring one of Florida’s unique river systems. In 1999, he joined the Florida-based Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC is now the Sea Turtle Conservancy) as its Policy Coordinator. CCC is widely known as the oldest marine turtle research and conservation group in the world. Less well known is their leadership in the area of coastal management policy, which has a major impact on the health of sea turtle nesting sites in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Gary is involved in all aspects of sea turtle conservation and policy and is a registered lobbyist in Florida. He monitors the laws and regulations impacting coastal policies, the coastal environment, and sea turtles. This includes monitoring the state’s regulatory program for coastal construction, beach nourishment, and coastal armoring. Gary serves on the scientific advisory committee of a state funded research program developing alternative “environmentally friendly” design parameters for beach nourishment projects in Florida.

The Sea Turtle Conservancy remains is at the forefront of the debate calling for coastal management policy reform and increased protection of coastal and near shore resources in Florida. STC has proposed coastal policy reforms to decrease development pressures on the frontal dunes of eroding shorelines. In 2005, Mr. Appelson was selected by the Governor to serve on the Coastal High Hazard Study Committee, a 19-member committee established by the Governor to look at the need for coastal policy reform with an emphasis on balancing coastal development with resource protection. Gary filled the only “environmental advocate” position on the committee. He was one of 15 invited participants in an Urban Land Institute workshop that developed “Ten Principles for Coastal Development.”  He serves on the steering committee of the Florida Oceans and Coastal Alliance. The alliance is a group of national and Florida-based conservation organizations focusing on coastal and marine resource protection issues. The STC drafted Florida’s first coastal hazard notification bill to be presented to the Florida legislature. Gary successfully guided the bill through the state legislature to become law. When possible he gets to the beach or boat to work hands-on with sea turtles.

Reference:
Gary Appelson is the Policy Coordinator for the Sea Turtle Conservancy based in Gainesville, Florida.  He is responsible for monitoring Florida laws and regulations impacting sea turtles and sea turtle habitats, coastal management and development policies, and the coastal environment.

I have known Gary through his advocacy for sea turtles at Sea turtle meetings, particularly the sea turtle permit holders meeting. At these venues, he is a delightfully calm and sane voice for sea turtles in places where goals and priorities may be at odds with sea turtle protection and conservation. He draws upon his knowledge of the state political channels and legal system and uses his gentle and thoughtful understanding of people to coax the best possible outcomes. Each year when he speaks at the sea turtle permit holders meeting, he highlights a few key issues.  His is able to focus people think about their choices so that clean water and natural sandy beaches remain part of Florida for people and sea turtles. To those ends, he draws on expertise from respected scientific sources to bolster environmental protection when archaic practices,  “hair-brained” projects, and questionable proposals threaten sea turtles and our coastal environments. His approach is to provide information in compelling ways so citizens are intrigued (not bullied) into thinking about their choices.  For example, Gary wrote about effective wastewater recycling to reduce and eliminate dumping of sewage in our nearshore and offshore waters (www.gainesville.com/news/20080420/gary-appelson-offshore-sewage). He successfully worked with partners to produce and a DVD film, entitled Higher Ground – The Battle to Save Florida’s Beaches to raise awareness among Florida residents and decision-makers about the fragile condition of the natural coastline of Florida and how its associated sea turtle nesting habitat is impacted by coastal development, erosion, and various beachfront engineering tactics (www.conserveturtles.org/higherground.php). The film gives a “birds-eye view” of some of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches in the state and shows how human activities on the beach affect this habitat.  It avoids specific recommendations, rather presents the case that Florida and its citizens are faced with choices that will drastically affect the fate of natural beaches, and sea turtles.

More recently, he and his team co-produced a series of short videos on sea level rise entitled Ahead of the Tide that includes interviews with scientists, coastal engineers, elected officials, coastal planners, conservation leaders, authors, students and activists (www.conserveturtles.org/freethebeach.php?page=ahead_of_the_tide).   This video is designed to help raise awareness and empower citizens to contact elected officials and inspire them to take action so that coastal communities begin planning for sea level rise in order to protect Florida’s natural sandy beaches for sea turtles and for people.

Interestingly, at a meeting several years ago, Gary told a story about how his young daughter about inspired him to inspire stakeholder (and naïve stake holders).  The essence was, “be nice and tell a good honest story”.  He took that simple, direct advise to inspire stakeholders to be informed about their environmental choices.   He has a tough job that requires vigilance, appreciation other positions, motivations, and goals, and good story telling.

Gary Appleson has spoken for sea turtles and our coasts for more than 20 years.


Jamie Aquino

Jamie Michelle Aquino(web) ACCOMPLISHMENTS/ACCOLADES
• 2015: Jamie Aquino and Haiti Ocean Project, featured on BBC series “Caribbean”
• 2012: Haiti Ocean Project research document is accepted and published at 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in Tampa by the Society for Marine Mammalogy
• 2012: Grand Prize Winner, Doors to Diplomacy website competition, co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department for Haiti Ocean Project website (www.haitioceanproject.net)
• 2010: Jamie Aquino, National Kind Teacher Award, Certificate of Honorable Mention, Humane Society of the United States.
• 2010: Jamie Aquino, Friday Salute Winner, Fox TV Orlando, Florida
• 2010: Honorable Mention/Student Films category, Blue Ocean Film Festival for Free Dem Whalez, rap video created by Jamie Aquino and her students against whales in captivity
• 2009: Finalist in the international youth environmental competition Volvo Adventure, for Pier2Pier, awareness campaign to protect wild dolphins and manatees
• 2009: Jamie Aquino, Finalist in the prestigious Cable’s Leaders in Learning Awards from Cable in the Classroom
• 2008: Grand Prize Winner, Doors to Diplomacy website competition, co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department for Pier2Pier, awareness campaign to protect wild dolphins and manatees
• 2007: Jamie Aquino, Recognition for Backstreet Boy Nick Carter’s involvement as Special Ambassador of the Year of the Dolphin by the United States Environment Programme (UNEP) and Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

EDUCATION
M.S. / Science in Education – Sports Admin, University of Miami, Miami, Florida (December 2000)
B.A. / Communication – Journalism, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida (August 1988)
A.A. / Communications. Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, Florida (September 1986)

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY
President/Founder Haiti Ocean Project 2007-present
TEXAS STAAR Supervisor Education Testing Service 2015-present
SAT/ACT Scorer Pearson 2013-present
Journalism/English Teacher Riviera Beach Maritime Academy, FL 2011-2014
Journalism/English Teacher Leesburg High School, Leesburg, FL 2008-2011
Journalism/English Teacher Plantation High School, Plantation, FL 2005-2008
News Writer/Editor CBS News, Reno/Las Vegas 2000-2002
Public Relations Assistant Los Angeles Clippers NBA Team 1997-1999
Staff Associate-Academics University of Miami Athletic Department 1994-1996
Outdoors/Sports Writer The Post Register Daily Newspaper, Idaho 1990-1993

INTERNSHIPS
Public Relations Intern 1996 Atlanta Olympics-USA Boxing Summer 1996
Public Relations Intern The Miami Heat NBA Team 1988-1989

Reference:
Growing up in South Florida, my daughter Jamie Michelle Aquino has always had a deep love and passion for the ocean and its marine inhabitants. While in middle school, she spent a summer attending Sea Camp, in Big Pine Key, where she saw dolphins swimming in the wild for the first time. She spent many of her weekends in high school on our family’s boat, which she learned how to drive in rough seas and anchor near a rocky reef. The ocean became a second home to her!

A successful journalist, it was motherhood that changed the direction of her life. With my encouragement, Jamie got her Florida teaching license. In 2007, she was hired to teach Journalism and English at Plantation High School, in Plantation, Florida. On her first day, she knew that the best way to teach her students about the world, was to get them out of the classroom. With her love of the sea and the approval of her students, they launched Pier2Pier, an awareness campaign to protect Florida’s wild dolphins and manatees. She took students with her to survey manatee populations and identify threats to wild dolphins. Also in 2007, inspired by her then Haitian-American students, Jamie launched Haiti Ocean Project, to protect Haiti’s marine mammals and educate the Haitian youth about their ocean. While Haiti Ocean Project was still being organized, Pier2Pier was a full-fledged campaign, which was quickly partnering with a number of local, state and international marine mammal conservation organizations. As a result of her efforts with Pier2Pier, Jamie spearheaded an initiative to name Backstreet Boy Nick Carter as a Special Ambassador of the Year of the Dolphin by the United States Environment Programme (UNEP) and Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). To add to the success of the campaign, the Pier2Pier website was named a grand prize winner in the 2008 Doors to Diplomacy international website competition, co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

In 2009, Jamie relocated to Central Florida to work with students at Leesburg High School, to introduce them to Pier2Pier and Haiti Ocean Project. The Pier2Pier campaign resulted in two major achievements for Jamie and her students at Leesburg High – an honorable mention in the student films category at the Blue Ocean Film Festival for Free Dem Whalez, a rap video created by Jamie Aquino and her students against whales in captivity and becoming a finalist in the international youth environmental competition, Volvo Adventure. The Volvo Adventure, co-sponsored by Volvo and UNEP, awarded Jamie and five of her students an all-expense paid trip to Gothenberg, Sweden. While at Leesburg High and with the possibilities of helping an impoverished country with no formal research of marine mammal populations, the focus became taking the outreach concept of Pier2Pier to an international level and developing Haiti Ocean Project more fully.

An opportunity to teach kids at the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy (RBMA) in Riviera Beach, Florida, brought Jamie to West Palm Beach in 2012. She assisted the RBMA students with building the Haiti Ocean Project website, which also won a grand prize in the 2012 Doors to Diplomacy website competition. She brought several students with her to Haiti to assist with the project. In 2013, Haiti Ocean Project became a formal nonprofit organization, garnering further support from the Port of Palm Beach, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the Bryan Adams Foundation, Pegasus Foundation, Adobe, Canvas Designers, the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, England and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

What my daughter has accomplished with Pier2Pier and Haiti Ocean Project is incredible. She did this all with the assistance of high school students, who were inspired by her passion and vision. She has changed the lives and mindsets of many youth to become more compassionate and care about their marine environment. Jamie is giving opportunities to Haitian and American youth that they could never have achieved without her support and Haiti Ocean Project. Through the project’s partnership with Adobe, she helped Mendy Calixte, a Haitian youth, receive a coveted Adobe Scholarship, which brought him to the United States where he is studying engineering and underwater robotics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Four other students in Florida and Haiti are attending universities from college scholarships they received from both website competitions. One of those students, Charlens Calixte, was featured with Jamie on a BBC series called Caribbean in 2015, which has already aired to 2.5 million viewers in the UK.

Jamie is developing Haiti’s first marine conservation and education center. She is also introducing marine mammal ecotourism to a country that never knew it was possible and establishing the first sighting network for marine mammal populations in Haiti. Jamie is making a difference in this world – one dolphin and whale at a time!


Marcel Bigue

IMG_2662 (web)RESUME:

WORK EXPERIENCE
Marine Program Director August 2012 – Present
WildAid San Francisco
• Developed a globally recognized marine enforcement model and replicated in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Belize, Mexico, Indonesia, Barbuda, Nicaragua and Palau.
• Assembled and managed multi-disciplinary teams including engineers, law enforcement experts and scientists to develop government fisheries enforcement strategies.
• Designed, funded and organized an innovative four-day global marine protected area conference with over 190 participants from 36 countries that expanded the knowledge base among the private sector, foundations, academia, NGOs, scientists, law enforcement and government officials.

Deputy Executive Director October 2007 – July 2012
WildAid San Francisco
• Provided overall financial and administrative management of Headquarters and served as liaison with six country programs. Annual budget of $4.6 million.
• Streamlined accounting system, established results-based programmatic/financial reporting procedures with field programs, and prepared quarterly Board reports.

Galapagos Program Manager April 2004 – September 2007
WildAid Ecuador
• Overhauled field program and assembled a results-oriented team that increased program revenue from $200K to $800K within 5 years.
• Elaborated business plans, marketing materials, commercialization strategies and provided administrative/accounting support for two small businesses in the Galapagos.
• Spearheaded national media awareness campaign with J. Walter Thompson, Ecuadorian World Cup soccer professionals and Universities to support shark finning ban.

Nicaragua Senior Program Manager August 2002 – March 2004
Catholic Relief Services Nicaragua
• Coordinated health, agriculture, credit, global solidarity and civil society teams in the day-to-day implementation of an annual $3 million Title II program.
• Facilitated strategic development work sessions both internally and with partners in order to improve programming quality.
• Developed annual budgets and funding proposals in conjunction with personnel.

PUBLICATIONS
• An Enforcement Guide for Near Shore Artisanal Fisheries 2015
• Northern Reef Assessment, Palau 2014
• Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve: Control and Vigilance System Design 2013
• The Quarantine Chain: Establishing An Effective Biosecurity System in the Galapagos Islands 2012
• Enforcement Assessment: Batbitim and Daram, SE Misool MPA, Raja Ampat, Indonesia 2012

EDUCATION
• Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey Monterey
MPA, Management & Environmental Policy 1997 – 1998
• Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey Monterey
BA, International Studies 1996 – 1997
• University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara
Environmental Studies & Economics 1993 – 1995

Marcel Bigue: Activities in Marine Conservation
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) cover only two percent of the world’s oceans yet are vital to protecting biodiversity and habitat. Approximately one-third of the global population depends on fish for food and nutrition. Unfortunately, 85 percent of the world’s fisheries are overfished or at capacity. As they decline, more vessels target marine reserves, making their enforcement even more important to protect marine life. WildAid’s marine program led by Marcel Bigue, Marine Program Director, protects exceptional marine habitat and unique marine species including the Galapagos Islands, home to nearly 3,000 marine species, many which are found nowhere else on earth; the Midriff Islands in Mexico, nicknamed the world’s aquarium; and Palau, a country that made history by declaring 80% of their national waters a marine reserve.

Together with WildAid’s partners, Marcel developed a comprehensive and effective marine protection model that has now been implemented in 10 different countries. This model incorporates surveillance/interdiction, prosecution, sanctions, education, and sustainable financing to create effective MPA management. Through his work, WildAid hosted the first global MPA conference to bring together 190 experts in marine law enforcement, technology providers, MPA managers, funders, and government officials. Moreover, our model has helped achieve the following activities and results over the last year.

Galapagos
• Using technology provided by WildAid, park rangers seized seven illegal fishing vessels and arrested 21 fishers in April with 81 shark carcasses in their hold.
• Successfully worked with the government to enact stronger regulations to combat illegal fishing. Effective April 2016, park rangers in Ecuador will better monitor restricted fishing areas and reserves using mandatory electronic sensors.
• Developed a legal database for Galapagos park lawyers, and helped resolve a backlog of 203 environmental cases. Sentenced a prominent illegal fishing vessel caught with over 350 sharks.

Coastal Ecuador
• Developed patrol and vigilance strategies for six coastal MPAs and underwrote patrol expenses to stop illegal fishing and improve tourism management. WildAid assisted in the following:
• Four Peruvian vessels illegally long-line fishing in Santa Clara were arrested in March.
• Machalilla National Park has improved manta and humpback whale protection with the installation of electronic surveillance technology at Isla de la Plata to better monitor fishing vessels.
• Created a fisher registry together with all artisanal dive fishers at Machalilla to promote sustainable extraction and encourage community-led enforcement.
• Protected 15,000 Olive-Ridley sea turtle hatchlings in Pacoche
• Educated 1,056 students on sea turtle conservation.
• Expanded and improved treatment of injured marine wildlife at a wildlife hospital in Machalilla.

Palau
• Launched a comprehensive enforcement strategy in Palau’s Northern Reefs MPA that combines electronic surveillance equipment with strategic patrols, a floating barge to provide a constant presence and rapid response capacity throughout territorial waters.

Mexico
• Organized the first-ever binational initiative between Mexico and Ecuador to improve MPA enforcement in the Midriff Islands.

Indonesia
• Supported local nonprofit partners by conducting regular patrols in South East Misool and launching a new project in Lamakera to reduce illegal manta fishing through community outreach and training for alternative sustainable livelihoods.


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.


Veronica Frehm

Veronica Frehm(web)RESUME:
• University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida G.P.A. – 3.64/4.00, cum laude
• Bachelor of Arts in English – Film and Media Studies, 2006
• Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida G.P.A. – 3.94/4.00
• Master of Environmental Education, 2012

Skills & Qualifications
• Highly skilled in curriculum development and implementation, public speaking and presenting, staff training, personnel management, grant writing, event/conference planning, public outreach, teambuilding, and photography (www.frehmphotography.com)
• Certified Project WILD and Project Learning Tree facilitator trainer; certified in: Lifeguarding; CPR/Basic First Aid/AED; ACA Kayak instructor (level 1); Boat U.S. Foundations Boating Safety Course; Department Environmental Protection Class A-1 Watercraft Operation
• Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Outlook, and Excel), and Adobe Photoshop
• Professional Experience in Environmental Education

Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park, Inc. – North Palm Beach, Florida
Director of Education – April 2014 – present
• Facilitating and managing daily Field Environmental Education (EE) Experiences for students grades 1-12
• Recipient of 2015 Friends of Florida State Parks state-wide awards for (1) Natural Science Education Program and (2) Student Stewards Curriculum
• Updated and revised existing programs, allowing 13 different grade specific options for Field Experiences
• All programs include Pre/Post-Tests; Pre-Lesson with materials/datasheets; Video; Main lesson completed the Park; Post-Lesson with materials/datasheets provided
• Track and Extrapolate learning gains based on pre/post test results
• Direct supervisor of the Education Volunteer Team – consisting of 30+ individuals and 3 college aged interns
• Developed and Implementing new Student Stewards Water Curriculum for grades 1-12
• Managed Advisory Committee for project
• Managed 3rd party evaluation of curriculum, making proposed revisions
• Aligned all curriculum to the Next Generation Sunshine State Science Standards and the Florida Language Arts and Math Standards and have Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) connections.
• Scheduling school year Field Experiences
• Grant writing and fulfillment for various Educational Programs
• Manage Education yearly budget (80,000+)
• Conducting monthly Virtual Field Trip (Vodcast platform) on various EE topics for K-12 Palm Beach County schools reaching approximately 10,000 students each year
• Facilitating Project Learning Tree/Project WILD Professional Development workshops throughout the year to formal and nonformal educators/volunteers/graduate students
• Provide annual weeklong summer workshop for Title 1 classroom teachers focused on EE activities
• Group leader of the Junior Friends – middle and high school students completing community service/citizen science projects at the park
• Organizer of the monthly Park Speaker Series – coordinating experts in different environmental fields to give lectures
• Presenting at various community events on local ecological issues/topics
• Provide Park Tours for public, private and government agencies
• Coordinate facility rentals
• Design and develop interpretative signage for nature center displays
• Event photographer for various events for Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park and John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
• Director of Summer Camp – 6 weeks of Natural Science Day Camp (8AM-5PM) with Marine Biology and Natural Science focused activities for campers aged 6-18
• Scheduling and planning of all activities/purchasing all summer camp supplies
• Students participate in: snorkeling on the Rock Reef while conducting Fish ID counts, kayaking, seine netting/investigating the Estuary ecosystem, conducting Seagrass Studies, Marine Biology focused labs, Skyping with a Scientist sessions, beach clean ups, and hiking in Maritime Hammock ecosystem, etc.
• Direct supervisor of interns (8 college students) and camp counselors-in-training (30+ high school students)
• Create and disseminate summer camp advertisements
• Register all campers and send confirmation packets
• Manage Camp social media Facebook page

Florida Atlantic University/Pine Jog Environmental Education Center – West Palm Beach, FL
Program Coordinator – May 2012 – April 2014
• Managed Everglades Curriculum project
• Developed grade specific (K-12) standards-based lessons which were piloted with teachers from 5 different counties
• Revisions made based on feedback from pilot teachers; Everglades Advisory Committee; and the Everglades Foundation
• Created Everglades Literacy Conceptual Framework which was reviewed by scientist and educators from across Florida to design what an “Everglades Literate” person should know
• Provided Professional Development workshops for K-12 teachers and non-formal educators through Project Learning Tree; Project WILD; and Summer Institutes
• Taught Nature Photography (Adult Community Education) courses
• Managed the Environmental Literacy Curriculum for Pine Jog Elementary Afterschool (K-5)
• Created and implemented the pilot phase of a 340-lesson, grade-specific and standards-based curriculum
• Supervisor of 25 staff serving 270 students
• Trained, modeled, observed and evaluated program content and delivery
• Provided professional development for program counselors and graduate students
• Presented at local and national conferences, including the 2012 and 2013 North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) Conference
• Co-wrote and hosted two virtual field trips accessible to all teachers in Palm Beach County via closed network website and accessible to the public via the Education Network on television.
• A sample video can be viewed at: https://vodcast.palmbeachschools.org/player/5GLO8
• Designed program brochure for 2012 and 2013 Learn Green: A Green Schools Conference and Expo Conference (Learn Green)
• Event Photographer for 2012 and 2013 Learn Green; 2012 Green Schools National Network Conference; 2012 and 2013 Pine Jog Green Gala; 2012 and 2013 Green Schools Recognition Program Awards Luncheon

Graduate Assistant August 2010 – May 2012
Teaching, Curriculum Development, and Public Outreach
• Responsible for planning, coordinating and teaching Environmental Education lessons and activities for outreach programs including inquiry, field trips, residential programming, and non-formal school settings for 5-15 year olds
• Trained new staff in above programs
• Reviewed and planned curriculum on Pine Jog’s Curriculum Development Teams, and the Green Schools Recognition Program Team serving Palm Beach and Martin Counties
• Created, piloted and implemented six 3-day curriculum programs for elementary-aged learners
• Facilitated teambuilding activities with adults, teens and children
• Led Sustainability Tours of facilities and Storm Water Treatment Area for adults and high school students
• Program liaison between parents, teachers and faculty members for education programming
• Delivered Green Schools Recognition workshops and in-service programs for teachers, administrators and faculty members
• Presented at eight local and national conferences, including the 2011 NAAEE Conference
• Event Planning and Marketing
• Co-chaired the state-wide conference committee for 2011 Learn Green, resulting in a gross revenue of $45,000 and a net revenue of $30,000
• Designed logos, flyers, brochures and promotional posters for Learn Green and other events distributed locally, statewide and nationwide
• Created and managed five social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter
• Compiled, analyzed and reported on survey data from Learn Green attendees
• Created a marketing strategy for Pine Jog’s High School/College program and recruited applicants
• Organized Annual Awards Luncheon for 150 attendees (2010, 2011)
• Event Photographer for Learn Green, The Florida Green Schools Awards, Green Gala and The Green Schools Recognition Program Awards Ceremony
• Secured auction items and assisted with Pine Jog’s annual fundraiser, Green Gala, resulting in a gross revenue of $55,000 and a net revenue of $40,000
• Grant Writing and Administration
• Managed the Green Seed mini-grant program with $3,000 of available funds
• Co-wrote five local, state, and federal grants; received two grants; one for $10,000, one for $55,000

YMCA Camp Widjiwagan – Nashville, TN May – August 2010
Summer Camp Leadership Team/Camp Photographer
• Administrative responsibilities included personnel management and enforcement of policies and procedures as part of a team supervising 130 staff members
• Marketing responsibilities included photography website management, end of session programming, and production and distribution of camper keepsakes and 150 in-house “trading cards”

Nature’s Classroom – Mentone, AL August 2009 – November 2010
Environmental Educator

Veronica Frehm has made significant contributions in marine conservation and environmental education through her field work in public environmental education.  With a strong commitment to environmental education and marine conservation, Veronica is an excellent candidate for the Blue Friend of the Year. Veronica believes it is imperative to educate students on the environment and the ocean through field experiences.  She believes that if a child does not attain first-hand knowledge about the environment, they will be less likely to care about it, and ultimately will not be able to make informed decisions about it in the future.

Currently, Veronica is Director of Education at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park located in coastal Palm Beach County, where she is in charge of the development, implementation, and training of the staff, volunteers and interns that deliver the Park’s environmental education Field Experience programs. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park serves over 5,200 students from Palm Beach County annually, focused on Natural Science Education.  Veronica manages daily Field Environmental Education experiences for students grades 1-12 with 14 different grade specific options for teachers to choose from.  Throughout all of the experiences, themes revolve around learning about different marine and coastal environments and the important role of marine conservation.  Each Field Experience is designed to enhance learning in the classroom and brings it to life with hands-on experiences at the Park.

Recently, the Park’s Natural Science Education Program received the 2015 Friends of Florida State Parks state-wide awards for the Natural Science Education Program.  It also received an award for its Student Stewards: A Focus on Water Resources curriculum which highlights our natural water resources.  The Student Stewards: A Focus on Water Resources curriculum teaches students of a variety of ages about the complexity and importance of our human connection with water and the environment. This curriculum not only provides awareness of water related issues and scientific knowledge about water and the environment, but takes learning to the next level by encouraging participants to take action in helping the health of our waters.

In addition to directing the Park’s field experiences, Veronica reaches even more students in Palm Beach Country and beyond through its Virtual Field Trip (Vodcast) programming. Veronica hosts live Vodcasts where school students from around the country can tune in and ask questions to the science presenters. Last year, they reached over 9,000 students virtually.

Ms. Frehm is also in charge of the Park’s Marine Biology focused summer camp.  This Science Summer camp is an advanced program for campers who are ready to be champions for our environment!  They participate in elevated Marine Biology investigations such as fish counts on the Rock Reef, seagrass surveys, biodiversity counts of the estuary, Maritime Hammock explorations, and Skyping with marine scientists. Summer campers walk away from camp with a clear understanding of good environmental stewardship.  Many campers and their parents remark that the experience has shaped them and their career paths significantly, because of the camp’s immersion into the Park’s unique coastal estuarine field experiences while learning about marine conservation and the importance of science in our everyday lives.  Veronica also runs the Junior Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park.  This group of middle/high school aged students come to the Park once a month to perform service projects and learn different marine conservation concepts throughout the year.  Activities include beach and mangrove clean ups, citizen science projects such as cataloging the biodiversity at the Park, and educating the public about monofilament line recycling.

Veronica’s influence does not stop with students.  She also provides Professional Development Project Learning Tree and Project WILD workshops to formal and non-formal educators. Veronica offers in-depth knowledge about the Park’s estuarine and coastal ecosystems and activities so educators can teach about these concepts back at their schools.  Her evaluations for the workshops are consistently highly rated and the feedback provided by the participants is always positive. One participant told Veronica that of her 42 years of teaching in the classroom, her workshops are the best that she has attended.  Similarly, Veronica coordinates the Park’s Speaker Series.  This public speaker series highlights different environmental experts from the community and invites them to come and speak on their research.

In addition, her work at MacArthur Beach State Park, Veronica is a frequent presenter at various community events on local ecological issues and topics.  As such it is easy to see how her focus and energy on environmental education and marine conservation warrants due consideration for Blue Friend of the Year, because her daily work touches the lives of so many–students, interns, teachers, non-formal educators, parents, and visitors.

 

Blue Hatchling Youth Award Finalists:

Recognizes a person under age 17 who has made significant contributions in marine conservation through volunteer related activities.

Brooke Welch

RESUME:
Experience
High School Intern at Mote Marine Laboratory
September 2013 – Present (3 years)

Served as an educational volunteer to youth and adults in marine science. Experienced hands on research through Epiforms project, marine debris surveys, and Mote’s spotted eagle ray research program. During my second year as an intern, I created a hands on educational research project where students can conduct mock research on a spotted eagle ray. My project idea has been replicated and is being used for marine education in Cuba and Mexico.

My current project is sewing dissectible animals which allows students to conduct mock necropsies on elasmobranchs, sea turtles, and seabirds .

During the internship program I was able to spend two weeks at the Biological Field Station in Bimini, Bahamas learning elasmobranch research techniques.

Director at Sarasota Ocean Preservers
January 2014 – Present (2 years 8 months)
Sarasota Ocean Preservers is a program for youth that combines beach, kayak, and snorkeling cleanups with an emphasis on marine life education.

Team Member at Teen Science Cafe
December 2012 – Present (3 years 9 months)
Florida Teen Science Cafés are free, informal events for teens focusing on marine science organized by Mote High School Interns. Each meeting welcomes a local scientist to share their work with students. Subject matter is geared for 9th–12th grade students.

Honors and Awards
• Extra Mile Award, Keep Sarasota County Beautiful – November 2013
Awarded to one volunteer who went the extra mile in keeping Sarasota County Beautiful.
• Youth Excellence Award, Keep Sarasota County Beautiful – November 2014
Awarded to one youth volunteer for excellence in keeping Sarasota County Beautiful
• Sea Preservation, Keep Sarasota County Beautiful – November 2014
Awarded to Sarasota Ocean Preservers, the organization I formed in 2013, for the groups efforts in removing
marine debris from the beaches in Sarasota County.
• The President’s Volunteer Service Award – February 2015
National award for the volunteer work I did removing marine debris.
• Ocean Pals Junior Dive Training grant, Women Divers Hall of Fame – March 2015
A $1,000 training grant (up to $500 for training and up to $500 for dive equipment) awarded to a deserving
young woman, ages 13-16, who wishes to begin or further her dive education/training.
• Youth Service Award, Keep America Beautiful
National award for volunteer service.
• Advanced Dive Training Grant, Woman Divers Hall of Fame – March 2016
$1,000 training grant (up to $500 for training and up to $500 for dive equipment) awarded to deserving
women diver of any age and background who wish to further their dive education through approved scuba
diving programs beyond the basic certification level.

Volunteer Experience
• Lifeguard at Mote Marine Laboratory – June 2014 – August 2014
Volunteer open-water lifeguard during Mote Summer Camp snorkeling sessions.
• Volunteer at Save Our Seabirds – September 2012 – Present
Assist with data entry, event setup, cleaning, landscape needs, donor registry, baby bird care, bird rescues
• Volunteer at Esperanza Eterna – Pastaza, Ecuador – June 2007 – August 2010
Helped with various social projects including clean water, construction, and community health projects.
• Lifeguard at Camp Sunshine at Sebago Lake, Inc. – July 2016 – Present
Volunteered as lake front/pool lifeguard during Camp Sunshine’s low-grade brain tumor camp session.

Certifications
• SCUBA open water – PADI
• Lifeguard/AED/CPR – American Red Cross
• SCUBA Advanced Open Water Diver – PADI
• SCUBA Enriched Air Diver – PADI
• SCUBA Rescue Diver – PADI
• SCUBA Digital Underwater Photographer – PADI
• Emergency Oxygen Provider – PADI
• SCUBA Peak Performance Buoyancy – PADI
• SCUBA Night Diver – PADI

Skills & Expertise
• Marine Conservation
• Marine Biology
• Research
• Community Outreach
• Underwater Photography
• Lifeguarding
• Scuba Diving
• Microsoft Office
• Microsoft Excel
• Fundraising
• Event Planning
• Social Media
• Wildlife Rehabilitation
• Education
• State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota, Dual Enrollment, 2014 – 2017
Grade: 4.0 gpa (unweighted)

Interests
kayaking, SCUBA, marine biology, photography, surfing, SUP, flying, snorkeling, traveling

Reference:
I have had the pleasure of knowing Brooke Welch for four years in my capacity as Senior Coordinator of Digital Programs at Mote Marine Laboratory. Brooke is currently a member of our High School Intern program and has served as an active volunteer here at Mote over the years. Since September 2013, Brooke has volunteered over 750 hours to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Community Outreach, Spotted Eagle Ray Conservation Research and Education programs.

As her mentor and supervisor, I can attest that Brooke has a great passion for marine science, education and conservation. Brooke’s passion has led her to establish the Sarasota Ocean Preservers, a local cleanup organization for youth that focuses on marine debris removal, ocean education and community outreach. Not only does Brooke organize and lead important cleanup efforts, she engages hobbyists in an effort to bridge their interests with ocean conservation. Furthermore, she has begun  to catalog the marine species in the area in hopes to correlate seasonal migrations with human interactions and habitat impacts. As a direct result of her work, Brooke has been invited to serve as a guest speaker at the annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, where she inspires and educates hundreds of young ocean enthusiasts each year.

Brooke is a committed and enthusiastic young woman. Not only has she founded her own community engagement program, she has also gone above and beyond to achieve certifications in advanced SCUBA Diving, Lifeguarding, First Aid, and CPR. She has demonstrated strong leadership skills and maturity, so much so that we have sought her out to serve as a Volunteer and Lifeguard during Mote Marine Laboratory’s Summer Camp programs. She constantly astounds me with her determination,
commitment and hard work ethic at such a young age.

I strongly recommend Brooke Welch for the Blue Ambassador of the Year Award. Brooke’s combination of volunteerism, community engagement and marine conservation make her an ideal candidate for this award. This prestigious recognition will contribute to her impressive accolades and resume, helping her to achieve her goals of becoming a marine scientist. You will not find a more worthy recipient. Her demonstrated commitment and vision have made a positive impact on our community in Sarasota County and at Mote Marine Laboratory. We are proud to be part of Brooke’s journey and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for her.


Cori McWilliams


Cori McWilliams has grown up surrounded by people who believe that education and hands-on experience are the keys to creating a fine marine conservationist, and in turn she utilizes that same methodology with others.

By age 4, Cori developed a passion for sea turtle conservation, and was sharing her knowledge to entire grade levels of students by writing and presenting a sea turtle conservation program by the time she was in second grade. Since that time, she has shared this program with hundreds of school students.

Cori understands that conservation is a collaborative effort, and has volunteered with many organizations, including:
• Environmental Learning Center. Cori works on a regular basis as a touch tank volunteer (introducing and teaching guests about Indian River Lagoon indigenous species), served as Day Camp Counselor for the past 2 summers, was chosen for and participated in Junior Nature Interpreter program, and works at their various annual events.
• Ocean Conservancy / Keep Indian River Beautiful – This year will mark Cori’s third year as a Site Captain responsible for coordinating the local participation in the International Coastal Cleanup.
• Sea Turtle Conservancy – Cori trained and successfully completed her first season as a Sea Turtle Walk Scout, responsible for finding/identifying turtles and answering questions from attendees at sea turtle nesting walks. Approximate total number of guests: 375.
• Barrier Island Center – Cori’s involvement over the past 4 years has included hosting children’s activities, working at annual fundraiser and live turtle releases, and assisting with school and special event programs.
• Indian River County Sea Turtle Program – Cori is responsible for answering questions from sea turtle nest inventory attendees. Approximate total number of guests to date: 150.
• Hands Across the Sand – As the organizer for local event, Cori was responsible for all aspects of coordinating event.
• Sea Turtle Preservation Society Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program – For the past three years, Cori has attended training and been on FWC permit to tend to distressed post-hatchling sea turtles.
• Wyland Foundation – Cori assists Wyland and staff at the annual Mote Eco-Festival.
• Youth Ocean Conservation Summit – In addition to attending summit annually, Cori has been a guest speaker on topic “You’re Never Too Young to Make a Difference in Conservation”.
• Florida Marine Science Educators Association’s Annual Conference – Cori was a panel member on discussion topic of effectively connecting youth and teachers.
• Sea Urchins Magazine – Cori contributed a two-page spread about sea turtle conservation.
• Girl Scouts – Cori is currently working on a project to bring “Blue Tubes”, dispensers of bags used for beach debris collection, to beach park locations in Indian River County in conjunction with the Girl Scout Silver Award Program.

Cori is the Founder and Program Coordinator of Kids for the Sea conservation club.
• To date, the club has received over $500 in grants, utilizing the funds to expand a portable re-usable debris collection container project in conjunction with the “Stow It Don’t Throw It” Program and Mote Aquarium. Cori coordinated collection of containers via donation solicitation from local individuals/businesses, and worked with Environmental Learning Center and Stella Maris Environmental Research to co-host workshops in which over 100 children [including day campers and Boys and Girls Club members] and adults were taught about the effects of marine pollution and then able to assemble and keep their own debris containers. In total, over 700 debris containers were distributed, recipients including: Keep Indian River Beautiful, Barrier Island Center (some for ongoing use in their school education programs [serving approximately 300 students last school year] and beach clean-ups, and others given to summer day campers), Stella Maris Environmental Research, Kids for the Sea beach clean-up attendees, and local fisherman and beachgoers.
• In just the first six months of 2016, Cori hosted beach clean-ups in which 74 participants removed 248 pounds of trash
from Indian River and Brevard Counties’ beaches.

Cori continues to expand her impact in the world of marine conservation, and is a true inspiration to everyone she meets! The
encouraging words of “you can do this, too” she speaks to young children, the conservationists of tomorrow, will forever stay
with them and inspire them to do the same!


Sophie Allen

Resume:
Sophie Allen resume 3 (2)

Reference:

I would like to nominate the deserving Sophie Allen for the 2016 Blue Hatchling Youth Award.  Sophie is fifteen years old, a past Blue Hatchling Finalist and a sophomore at Dreyfoos School of the Arts this year.  In addition to her musical interests that she pursues at Dreyfoos, growing up in Palm Beach County has shaped Sophie into a passionate ocean lover.  She not only seeks enjoyment from the ocean as a certified scuba diver, kayaker and stand up paddle boarder, but she also works hard to educate herself on marine issues and volunteers her time to engage in marine conservation activities.

Sophie is entering her fourth year of active community service as a Junior Friend of MacArthur Beach State Park where she attends monthly meetings and volunteers regularly in a variety of community service activities from removing invasive plant species to restoring the natural beach dunes.  As a Junior Friend, Sophie volunteers in MacArthur Beach State Park’s annual Naturescape Festival where she helps with educational activities oriented towards teaching younger kids about the ocean.  This past spring Sophie was invited to travel and attend the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans to present a science poster on behalf of the Junior Friends of MacArthur Beach for OSM’s K-12 Youth Poster Symposium.  Her poster presentation highlighted Junior Friends’ experiment on growing mediums for Sea Oats and their dune restoration efforts.

Sophie’s passion for the ocean does not limit itself to community service.  In recent years, she has used her considerable talents to create marine conservation videos.  In 2015, her short film “Shark Souvenirs” was accepted as a finalist in the 2015 Beneath the Waves-Youth Making Ripples student Film Festival and she received special recognition by Shark4kids for her video’s shark conservation message.  In 2016, her video “Little Hope Spots” built upon Sylvia Earle’s idea of marine hope spots and featured the conservation efforts of Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resource Management in restoring the Lake Worth Lagoon and providing artificial reefs to increase marine biodiversity.  “Little Hope Spots” won the Best Scientific Message category for High School in the 2016 Youth Making Ripples film festival.  Her video then went on to take 2nd place in the 2016 National Ocean Science Bowl video contest.  It can be viewed at their link http://nosb.org/compete/nosb-video-contest/2016-video-contest-winners/

As a winner in the 2016 Youth Making Ripples Film Festival, Sophie won the opportunity to participate in a research expedition with the University of Miami’s Shark Research & Conservation program.  This shark tagging cruise marked Sophie’s third volunteer research cruise.  In addition to shark tagging field work, where Sophie has had an opportunity to work alongside UM graduate students in collecting valuable shark data, Sophie was also asked to help present on behalf of Youth Making Ripples at this year’s National Marine Educators Association’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida, as a student representative.  Her job was to present a student perspective to the teachers attending this national conference this summer.  She also volunteered and presented an additional poster on behalf of Youth Making Ripples at the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans and has been a co-presenter at Palm Beach County School District’s Learn Green Conference, as well as the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit at Mote Marine Laboratory.  Recently, Sophie applied and has been accepted to present at the Bright STaRS K-12 Poster Session at this year’s AGU (American Geophysical Union) Conference in San Francisco where she will continue to highlight marine conservation issues.

When Sophie is not making marine conservation videos or presenting at conferences, she can be found volunteering locally in such events as the annual International Coastal Cleanup, or dressed up as the “Bag Monster” to draw awareness to the dangers of plastics in our oceans at such events as the Lake Worth Lagoon Fest.  Sophie co-hosts the Bag Monster of SoFlo Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BagMonstserofSoFlo/

While posing as a Bag Monster is a low-tech, but effective approach to saving the oceans, Sophie’s interest in the oceans and science has led her to learn about ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) and participate in MATE’s Florida Regional ROV Competition after building an ROV with other students. Through MATE’s (Marine Advanced Technology Education) competition platform, Sophie has gained a greater awareness of how technology is being used to study and monitor the world’s oceans.  She hopes to possibly pursue an ocean engineering degree in the future to help develop and improve technology that will enable scientists to continue to explore and monitor the world’s oceans.  She has helped promote ocean technology and ROV building at Lantana’s World Ocean Day activities and by mentoring younger students. It is for all of the above reasons that it is without reservation that I nominate Sophie Allen for the Blue Hatchling of the Year Award.  Thank you.

 

Blue Business of the Year Finalists:

The Blue Business of the Year Award recognizes a business that has made outstanding contributions toward promoting and encouraging conservation, restoration, or preservation of marine life and/or marine ecosystems through their business practices, products or technology.

The Scuba Club

For almost 45 years, The Scuba Club has proved to be a business that promotes and encourages
conservation through its business practices, preservation activities and examples in the community.
Below are the reasons The Scuba Club should be the 2016 Blue Business of the Year!

• As the longest running dive operation in Palm Beach County, they scuba certify hundreds of people each year. In each class, students learn about the beauty and importance of marine life and how to safely and respectfully interact with it. After 44 years, the message of conservation has made a major impact on our community.
• The Scuba Club has been opposed to spear fishing since it opened in 1972, and continues to stand by the belief that we should not kill the ocean’s natural ecosystem. Spearfishing is only allowed for lionfish, which is an invasive species.
• The Scuba Club’s college educated staff are good examples to fellow divers of how to respectfully interact with marine animals and reef systems. They clearly and gently correct divers who are not respectful of the ocean habitat.
• The Scuba Club is active supporters of Lionfish Derbies, which act to deplete the invasive lionfish species on our reefs. They hold their own derbies and reward divers who help to solve the problem.
• The Scuba Club encourages their staff, members and customers to clean up the reef as they dive. Many divers bring up trash from the bottom, helping to save the lives of turtles, fish and other marine species.
• JD Duff, co-owner of The Scuba Club, had a film that was shown at the prestigious San Diego Film Festival about the importance of preserving the goliath grouper population and eliminating the moratorium on groupers. His film was shown alongside films from other famous videographers like Howard Hall.
• The Scuba Club believes that conservation starts with the youth in Palm Beach County. For the past five years they have implemented Scuba Camps teaching kids to love and preserve the ocean’s beauty through Discover Scuba classes, Scuba Camps (where kids get certified) and ocean dives.
• Not only is Scuba Camp available for kids to get certified, The Scuba Club offers Scuba Camp for certified divers too. This important camp keeps the excitement of the ocean and its inhabitants in the minds and hearts of our youngest conservationists.
• For the last three years, The Scuba Club has held Scuba Camps during lobster mini-season instead of running trips for those hoping to catch them. They do not support mini-season and believe that the regular season should be shortened on both ends by one month because so many pregnant females are captured.
• The Scuba Club has also reached the college population by teaching scuba certification classes to students at Palm Beach Atlantic University for 40 years! Through The Scuba Club, this important population is taught about the importance of preserving marine life ecosystems.
• Scuba diving isn’t for everyone, so The Scuba Club uses social media to bring the beauty of the ocean to the masses. The staff and members take pictures that are posted to Facebook, Instagram (which has a strong youth, high school and college following) and Twitter that promote conservation, restoration and preservation of our beautiful marine life and ecosystems.

Reference:
I have been scuba diving in South Florida for 25 years. I got certified while I was a teenage college student at the University of Miami. Years later I moved to West Palm Beach after graduating from law school in Northern Florida and have lived in Palm Beach County since 1997. The Scuba Club was one of the first dive shops that I went out with in this area and for the past 19 years I have continued to dive with them on a regular basis. Below is a list of reasons why I enjoy diving with them which is also why they should be the 2016 Blue Business of the Year:

• As a native South Floridian, I have always loved the ocean and have huge respect for the ocean and marine life. The Scuba Club is the only local dive shop that I know of that prohibits spear fishing. While I am not opposed to spear fishing when done responsibly, many dive shops that allow spear fishing do not ensure that the spearing is done in a responsible manner by their guests. By prohibiting spear fishing, The Scuba Club eliminates the recklessness that often accompanies it.
• They do allow spear fishing for lionfish as this invasive species has had a negative impact on our local ecosystem. However, they ensure that any spearing oflionfish is done in a safe and responsible manner
• As a regular diver at the Scuba Club, I have seen firsthand how every instructor and staff member promotes marine education and conservation. From the way they teach new students to the way they inform and help divers both in and out of the water, it’s clear that their mission is to promote a healthy respect for the ocean and its inhabitants.
• JD Duff, the co-owner of The Scuba Club, is a well renown photographer and videographer. While I am merely an amateur photographer, JD has taken the time to work with me on techniques in the water to help improve my photos while at the same time ensuring that nothing is done to damage the reefs or our ecosystem.
• The Scuba Club has held seminars to promote education and conservation ofthe local marine life and reef systems. Such seminars have included media shows as well as lectures on the invasive lionfish problem.
• The Scuba Club offers “Scuba Camp” each summer to teach young people (and adults) how to dive. By targeting our local youths, the ideas behind education and conservation are taught at an early age. This is more important than ever given the information age we live in with social media and the like.
• The Scuba Club has a strong affiliation with Palm Beach Atlantic University. This connection has allowed hundreds of young students to learn about our oceans while learning how to dive responsibly and respectfully. In fact, many PBA students who learned to dive at the Scuba Club ended up working there for many years during school or even after they graduated.
• Many members of the Scuba Club take a mesh “trash bag” with them on their dives. They do this in order to clean up any trash they come across during the dives. Upon seeing this, other members have followed suit and started their own clean up crews.
• Having been in business for so long, the Scuba Club has seen multiple generations of divers come through its doors. The younger and future generations have learned from both their older family members as well as the staff how to dive responsibly and respectfully. This passing down of education and knowledge continues to this day and is a pleasure to see.


Marriott Ocean Palms


Marriott’s Oceana Palms, part of Marriott Vacations Worldwide (MVW) opened in early 2010, with the second building opening in 2013.  Oceana Palms has 159 two-bedroom villas, with an average annual occupancy of 93% year-round.  Marriott’s Oceana Palms is one of many resorts within Marriott Vacations Worldwide and has been recognized for outstanding performance for a variety of departments, associate engagement, and also won Resort of the Year in 2014. Marriott’s Oceana Palms achieved Marriott Vacations Worldwide World Class Resort in 2015 for outstanding performance on several metrics, including financials, guest satisfaction, associate engagement and community outreach efforts.

Marriott’s Oceana Palms is located on the beautiful Singer Island in Florida.  Our resort rests directly on the beach and we offer breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean from every villa on property. Our location on Singer Island allows us the opportunity to protect many sea turtle nests that appear between nesting season, March 1st and October 31st, and provide many enrichment programs and tools for our owners and guests to learn more about the local sea turtles and conservation efforts.

In addition to our conservation efforts related directly to the sea turtles, Marriott’s Oceana Palms has initiated a “Green Team” that meets to discuss ways we can conserve and help protect the environment.  We have also completed several projects which are directly related to protecting and reserving our natural resources.

Fast Facts:

  • 159 two-bedroom villas
  • Two tower buildings, Sunrise and Sunset
  • Two swimming pools, including a kids play area in one of the pools
  • Fitness Center, Activity Center, and Multi-purpose room available
  • Activities scheduled throughout the day for owners and guests of all ages
  • Private Beach Access; Beach Services provided
  • Two restaurants, The MarketPlace Bistro, and Reflections Bar & Grill
  • Highly engaged associates, ranked highest among South Florida MVW properties
  • Garage Parking; Key Access required to enter building and resort grounds
  • Resort of the Year for Marriott Vacations Worldwide for 2014
  • Active in community outreach, donations, and the Spirit to Serve

Reference:
Loggerhead MarineLife Center’s Blue Business of the Year Award recognized a business that has made outstanding contributions in promoting conservation, restoration, or preservation of marine life and ecosystems through the business’ practices.  Marriott’s Oceana Palms, and Chris Cano, the leader and General Manager of Marriott’s Oceana Palms, are nominated as the Blue Business of the Year for the commitment to conservation, education, and to the community.

Marriott’s Oceana Palms is located directly on Riviera Beach, in the heart of the nesting center for Loggerhead, Green, and Leatherback sea turtles.  Conservation and education about these turtles are a part of our daily lives; we strive to enrich our owners and guests by sharing our knowledge of the environment and marine life so they can also be committed to saving our world.

Marriott’s Oceana Palms, since opening in 2010, has made strides to preserve our oceans, protect our environment and conserve resources as a company.  With only 100 Marriott associates, we are committed to giving back to our community and educating our owners and guests about what it is we do to preserve our local marine life and the environment.   From hosting nature tours, to installing water softening systems, we have a wide spectrum of technologies and activities that allow us to be a nominee for the Blue Business Award.

In 2016, Marriott’s Oceana Palms:

  • Promoted the importance of educating our owners and guests about our local waterways. Our Beach Team is seasoned and knowledgeable about the local reefs, tides, currents, and marine life and is able to share information with owners and guests.
  • Currently hold Gold status with Audubon International and registered as a Florida Green Lodging resort with the Department of Environmental Services.
  • On-going education for our associates, owners and guests on sea turtle hatchlings and conservation efforts. Weekly we host Turtle Conservation, which is a planned activity to educate our owners and guests about our local sea turtles (Loggerhead, Green, and Leatherback) conservation efforts, and provides awareness of possible harmful behaviors.
  • We have placards posted around the pool and the deck area going to the beach which provides information about the lifecycle of Loggerhead Sea Turtles and tips on how we can help conserve these marine animals.
  • We installed a water softening system which removes additional minerals from our water; this green system has allowed us to have “softer” water, preventing corrosion and other damaging effects hard water can have on water systems.
  • On-going adoption of Loggerhead Sea turtles via Loggerhead MarineLife Center; we have “turtle banks” around property where owners, guests, and associates are encouraged to drop coins to promote our conservation efforts. We have adopted a total of twelve turtles from Loggerhead MarineLife Center. We showcase our adoptions by framing the adopted turtles and posting them around the resort; this has created conversation between guests and associates.
  • As a resort, we promoted and created activities around World Oceans Day, which we celebrated on July 17th. We promoted this day on social media, flyers around the resort, and in our weekly activity guide.
  • With only 100 associates, we donated over $1,700 in cash or in-kind to local charities, including Loggerhead MarineLife Center; associates have spent over 100 hours cleaning the beach.
  • We donated over 500 pounds of food to the local West Palm Beach food bank to support our community during the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Implemented low lighting on property during turtle nesting season, which is in agreement with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  • All windows and overhand glass are ¼ inch Atlantica Green with VE-52 glass.
  • Invested $84,000 in energy efficient LED lighting across our property.
  • Donated 304 bars of soap and 1,234 plastic bottles to Clean the World, an organization that benefits countries in need. Also, we donated 463 pounds of plastic to be recycled; donated $3,000 worth of housewares to Habitat for Humanity.
  • In January 2016, we signed up with PESCO Energy Natural Gas and have observed savings in gas.
  • We order all of our seafood from North Star Seafood, which is a company that promotes sustainability with marine life.
  • In every villa (total of 159) we have GE energy Star appliances, low flow shower heads, faucets and dual flush toilets.
  • Our resort is 100% smoke free, and we also participate in single stream recycling (bins in every villa, recycling receptacles on every floor, and a cardboard only dumpster separate from our recycling dumpster)
  • Added protected windscreens to Reflections (the resort’s restaurant) and The MarketPlace Bistro, which is used during turtle season to decrease the amount of sound and light to the beach in efforts for sea turtle protection. These windscreens also assist in creating additional shade areas, eliminating the needs for electric fans.
  • Work directly with Ecolab, American Pools, and Leslie Pools to ensure proper filtration and chemical usage for our pools and fountains.
  • Engage Ecolab for professional pest extermination; we are proactive in our approach to eliminate pests from our resort using eco-friendly products
  • Installed an Energy Management System (Control Green) which activates the air condition while guests are in the room. The system uses infrared technology to determine the villa is vacant and will then increase the temperature to conserve energy. The system also detects when a balcony door is open and will pause the air conditioning until the balcony door is secure again.

As you can see, Marriott’s Oceana Palms does a lot to conserve and protect sea turtles and the eco system.  We educate our associates, owners, and guests, and also have processes in place to ensure we are providing the correct habitat the sea turtles require to nest.  We also donate to various local charities and do our best to give back to our community.  We have inspired a culture at Marriott’s Oceana Palms that is more than serving our owners and guests; it’s about caring for the environment, our community and doing everything possible to enrich the lives around us.


Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation

2700 6th Avenue South, Lake Worth, Florida 33461
http://www.pbcgov.com/parks/

I am nominating Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation (PBC Parks) for Blue Business of the year for their long standing multi-faceted approach to promoting (and protecting) Palm Beach County’s beautiful environmental spaces and their immediate support of LMC’s new Balloon Ban.  PBC Parks houses many unique recreational and cultural facilities (like Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Loggerhead Park, Phil Foster Park (one of Palm Beach County’s most accessible and biodiverse scuba and snorkeling trails), and the Juno Beach Pier (operated by Loggerhead Marinelife Center).

In addition to park-spaces, PBC parks hosts multiple events which are tailored to help promote protection and education for the environment events include:

• Beach Cleanups
• Educational sessions for guests of all ages
• Coastal Conservation Concert (C3): A community event celebrating coastal habitats and conservation
• LMC Balloon Ban – tested and launched in Loggerhead Park (see below)

This year in partnership with Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation approved the 1st ‘test’ deployment of LMC’s balloon ban in Loggerhead Park.  This successful partnership between Parks and LMC was responsible for eliminating balloons from Loggerhead Park’s rental pavilions which are adjacent to one of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches on our planet.  In addition Loggerhead Park is also a hot-spot for birders.  Sea turtles and birds are often the unintended target of balloons and these animals can frequently become entangled in balloons and or mistake them for food, ingesting the balloons which frequently leads to the animal’s death.

Because of Palm Beach County Park’s approval of this test case, LMC and PBC Parks gained a tremendous amount of media for our test case which resulted in the balloon ban being adopted by twelve (12) municipalities.  More information on this program is available here: https://marinelife.org/four-south-florida-counties-now-implementing-balloon-ban/

Palm Beach County’s park system offers the widest possible range of leisure opportunities. Over 8,000 acres of parkland are available to discover. Sports, fitness, environmental, and cultural opportunities abound, as well as restful places for solitude.

From the “Mission” and “Vision” section of their website:

Our Mission: We make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations.

Our Vision:
To be a nationally recognized parks and recreation leader that connects people and parks by:
– Engaging all members of our diverse community,
– Ensuring safe, functional and innovative amenities now and in the future,
– Continually developing professional, well trained staff that mirrors our community,
– Being the premier outdoor recreation destination in South Florida,
– Forming strategic relationships to ensure local access to green space,
– Exceeding the national average of park land per capita, and
– Advancing services through the incorporation of new technologies


Saltwater Brewery


1701 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444
http://www.saltwaterbrewery.com/home

I am nominating Saltwater Brewery for Blue Business of the year.  Saltwater Brewery is a Palm Beach County based brewery who has a very rich focus on community collaborations and support with a specific focus of their corporate mission about ocean conservation.

From the “Mission” section of their website: Our goal is to maintain the world’s greatest wonder by giving back to the ocean through Ocean Based Charities (CCA, Surfrider, Ocean Foundation, MOTE).

In addition to supporting great marine-related organizations, Salt Water noticed a significant problem in their industry, noting that most plastic beverage six‐pack rings end up in our oceans and pose a serious threat to wildlife.

Together with an organization called Webelievers, Saltwater Brewery ideated, designed, tested and prototyped the first ever Edible Six Pack Rings. A six‐pack packaging, made with byproducts of the beer making process, that instead of killing animals, feeds them. They are also 100% biodegradable and compostable.

The edible six pack campaign garnered local, national, and even international attention which was great for Saltwater Brewery but even better for our ocean and our marine life!  Impressions on YouTube are nearly 500,000 and Saltwater Brewery had hundreds of traditional and digital media articles written about their innovative product and innovative corporate culture designed to give back and protect the ocean and marine life.

Please view the YouTube video overviewing the innovative 6-pack-rings please watch the video at this link on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YG9gUJMGyw

The video is also available at Saltwater Brewery’s website:
http://www.saltwaterbrewery.com/community-swb/


Bahamas National Trust


The Bahamas National Trust exemplifies outstanding contributions towards promoting and encouraging conservation, restoration, or preservation of marine life and/ or marine ecosystems through their business practices. This organization extends its’ reach through multiple parks located in Abaco, Andros, Conception Island, Crooked Island, and Eleuthera. Through the implementation of science projects The Bahamas National Trust has produced a positive impact on marine conservation. The Bahamas National Trust addresses marine conservation through their Rapid Ecological Assessments (REAs), Reverse the Decline (RTD) project, Conchservation campaign, GIS unit, and National Park Research Projects. The execution of REAs helps with park planning, management activities, identification of new areas to protect, and gives the organization a more detailed understanding of the habitats health status and species of concern.

While REAs address the overall assessment of various habitats, the RTD focuses on one specific marine conservation issue – coral. This project is aimed at reversing the decline of key reef building coral species in The Bahamas. Reversing the decline of key reef building coral species is essential to sustaining fish populations. According to the World Resources Institute, “properly managed coral reefs can yield an average of 15 tons of fish and other seafood per square kilometer each year” (WRI). The RTD seeks to protect key coral reef building species, such as the branching Elkhorn and Staghorn corals. In addition, the RTD is a long-term project that aims to promote research, conservation, policy and education.

The conservation mindset of The Bahamas National Trust extends through to the organizations’ corporate culture. Within the organization, The Bahamas National Trust has an active Wildlife Committee. This committee is comprised of staff who provides assistance to other specialty marine life groups. One of these specialty groups is the New Providence Bird Club, formerly known as the Ornithology Group), which has been an active group since 1994.

In addition to helping other organizations and groups flourish, The Bahamas National Trust promotes education of marine conservation through internships, certification programs, citizen science projects, an eco-tour guide training program, and volunteer opportunities. In 2015 more than 12,000 students participated in The Bahamas National Trust’s Outdoor Environmental Classroom. Education Director Portia Sweeting has said that these outdoor classroom experiences “are designed to connect students to the parks and complement the Ministry of Education’s science and Social studies curricula by acting as outdoor classrooms” (The Bahamas National Trust). Recently, the organization has expanded these classroom experiences to include a demonstration on reusing discarded materials to produce higher value items. Through all of these programs and initiatives, The Bahamas National Trust facilitates a culture of ocean and marine conservation.

Additionally, The Science and Policy Department of The Bahamas National Trust pursues conservation and improvement of marine life by disseminating scientific information through conferences, publications, and training. With a variety of projects, policies, committees, programs, and volunteer opportunities The Bahamas National Trust increases ocean conservation on a local, national, and global scale.

 

 

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