Blue Ambassador Award Finalists:
The recipient of the Blue Ambassador of the Year Award exemplifies significant local contributions in marine conservation through volunteer-related activities.
Giacomo Abrusci - Award Recipient
Giacomo Abrusci had made outstanding contributions in marine conservation through his volunteer efforts. Nearly everyone in the ocean conservation community is familiar with SEVENSEAS Media (sevenseasmedia.org). What most people do not know is that the entire organization was founded by, and is run by one volunteer individual, Giacomo Abrusci. For nearly 5 years he has tirelessly dedicated his time to elevating our community buy providing a grassroots outlet for individuals to network, tell stories, share professional development and career opportunities, and even take part in networking events and beach cleanups. With over 25k monthly visitors to his site and subscribers in 174 countries, Giacomo is single-handedly strengthening the capacity of the ocean conservation community by building bridges with his free resource. Through SEVENSEAS Media, Giacomo provides tens of thousands with news and
career resources, he gives an outlet for hundreds of organizations like the Loggerhead Marinelife Center to share their good work and fundraise, and he offers virtual and in-person opportunities for direct action, like regular beach cleanups he organizes throughout Thailand.
Giacomo does all this, as a volunteer, for free. Honoring him with the Blue Ambassador of the Year Award would not only acknowledge his efforts but bring attention to SEVENSEAS Media where others within our community might want to get involved, support, or benefit from the resource.
Lisa Miceli-Capano - 1st Nomination
My Mom is awesome. She never stops helping others and the ocean. She produces beach cleanups, reef cleanups, fundraiser paint nights, free outdoor events, paints murals with debris. She helps so many organizations so that they can raise money and awareness to save corals and sea turtles.
She started a yearly event called SOS Ocean Conservation Day. She makes ZERO profits and produces this free one day event. She helps over 50 nonprofit conservation groups to engage in outreach and lets them sell to help raise donations. She always says to me, "My black rings under my eyes saved another sea turtle today!"
She loves what she does and she deserves to be recognized. Even though she is my Mom, all my friends and classmates love Stoked On Salt. She always helps them with community hours and they always say, "Your Mom is so cool." You know what, she is!
Lisa Miceli-Capano - 2nd Nomination
‘SOS Ocean Clean Up’ is a local ocean conservation group comprised totally of 2,500 TEAM SOS volunteers ages 4 to 86 years old. This organization was created by Stoked On Salt owner Lisa Miceli-Capano in 2013 because of her intense desire to protect our local treasures, the beautiful beaches and coral reef.
SOS Ocean Clean Up routinely partners with Vone Research (a local 501(c)3 nonprofit) to provide community service hours to all the students who participate in the clean up events. Participants include Girl Scouts, IGFA volunteers, summer campers, businesses and local students as well as scientists, residents and tourists. The eager volunteers travel from as far away as the Florida Keys, West Palm Beach, Miami and Naples.
All the SOS events are free, educational and family friendly. Educational materials are supplied by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coral Conservation Program, Project Aware Dive Against Debris, NOAA, The National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation, Shark4Kids, Reef Relief and Friends of Our Florida Reefs, to name a few. The hundreds of participants at the
SOS events always enjoy themselves and feel immensely rewarded for making a difference in the local environment.
SOS has been a member of the Project Aware Dive Against Debris Program since 2014. All the debris data is weighed and documented by volunteers at every event. This step is essential! Once reported, our Dive Against Debris data enters a global database to help support the development and implementation of policies to improve solid waste management, locally and globally.
She was recognized for my "Significant Contributions" by the United States Coral Reef Task Force - NOAA - and for the creativity and leadership in minimizing marine debris in Southeast Florida oceans. In May of 2018, I was recognized as the 2018 Synergy Summit for Cultural & Heritage Tourism as "Best Local Artist".
She wanted to do something that was inspiring for a younger generation because they're the ones in line to inherit all these issues - so she decided to create the SOS Ocean Conservation Day. Ocean Conservation Day event is a one day outdoor event that is not only fun, but an educational program for the entire family that helps bring awareness to our ocean and the efforts to preserve and protect our living coral reef ecosystems.
Over 50 Ocean/Marine Conservation groups join us to engage in outreach with the general public about issues that could be addressed on a local level - which we so desperately need: CORALS - MANATEES - LIONFISH - BEACH/OCEAN DEBRIS - SHARKS - SEA TURTLES - MANTA RAYS - WHALES - LOBSTERING - WATER QUALITY - WILDLIFE RESCUE - FISHING REGULATIONS - OCEAN SAFETY and more.
Please see the attached bio and visit Lisa's website (StokedOnSalt.com) and the group's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Stoked-On-Salt) for more information that will surely help you understand why Lisa is so worthy of this award.
*Stoked on Salt also nominated in the Blue Business Category
Nomination of Stephen Schwartz, LMC Volunteer, for Blue Ambassador of the Year 2019
When Stephen Schwartz was ten years old, a neighbor who was a passionate angler took him salt-water fishing. That day Stephen learned that fishing was more than just tossing a line in the water. He found the sport both relaxing and exciting. He thought it was like science class on the water. It offered him much to learn about fish species and their habits and habitats; there were rules to know about sport fishing. And most important to that ten year old boy with a big heart, he learned that there is an ethos among those who fish – the obligation to properly and
humanely honor and handle the catch.
“You might say I was hooked,” said Stephen one Saturday as he tells his story to participants in LMC’s weekly Kids Fishing Program at the Juno Beach Pier.
Stephen’s path to volunteering at LMC -
Stephen Schwartz became a “snowbird” a few years back and was drawn to the salt-water fishing in Palm Beach County’s waters. He discovered Loggerhead Marinelife Center and vowed that when he retired, he would volunteer at the Center to share with guests his excitement for all areas of marine life. He began volunteering each winter six years ago, after he sold his company. When he moved to Florida permanently last year, he became a year-round volunteer, much to the delight of the entire LMC Team.
Stephen volunteers 12 to 15 hours most weeks, giving public and private tours, hosting special programs and training new docents and volunteers. He loves hosting the Fish Feeding program at 3 pm. “Kids who have never seen a fish nor experienced the ocean watch in amazement. I love to read the surprise and excitement on their faces.”
Stephen inspired one of LMC’s signature programs -
Stephen is proud of the success of the Kids Fishing Program, a booked-solid weekly event he helped to create. It’s modeled after a program he and his son Todd founded on Long Island for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. “That program took up to 60 kids on a 110-foot boat for a day of fishing. We drew on that success for our Responsible Angling program here. When we started LMC’s program, I insisted that each child be accompanied by one parent. I want to families to put the screens down for a few hours and bond. Fishing can do that. The LMC program teaches kids how to be responsible ethical anglers and discover how to reduce their impact on marine life including sea turtles and shore birds. It’s important for parents to understand why our marine ecosystems are so important and to encourage their children’s interest in saving them. Fishing is one gateway to that global understanding.”
Stephen relates to guests of all ages and interests -
Stephen has unparalleled “people skills” honed in a career that resulted in building and selling a successful business. “I’ve seen Stephen give equally great but very different tours to families with young kids and to retired business moguls who want to challenge every statement,” says past LMC Board Chair Ray Graziotto. “He keeps it fresh and knows how to adapt LMC’s story and tailor it to each audience. Like a great salesperson, he encourages and anticipates questions. He also knows how to read a potential donor’s interest. That skill has resulted in some generous gifts to LMC.”
Stephen loves to get the “why turtles?” question -
“Every so often, someone on a tour will challenge you. . . saying ‘with all the problems in the world, why are you worried about saving turtles,’ ” says Stephen. “I love that question because it is a chance to reinforce our story. Turtles are a key part of the marine ecosystem. Without a healthy sea-turtle population, we have less healthy oceans and reefs, more beaches full of jellyfish, and so on. When I explain that turtles tell us the health of the ocean, it’s an AHA moment. Every day I volunteer I try to make sure that each guest I encounter leaves with an appreciation for our work and a clear understanding of what they can do to help protect our oceans.”
Stephen lives and breathes marine conservation -
I am honored to nominate Stephen Schwartz, LMC Volunteer, for Blue Ambassador of the Year 2019. I have worked closely with him over the past three years. He lives and breathes marine conservation through his work as a docent, guide, teacher and coach. He models best -practices in conservation in the Kids Fishing program on Juno Beach Pier. And with each guided tour, he encourages LMC guests from 8 to 80 to become active stewards of our oceans by arming them with information and inspiration.