Sarasota Bay Watch Happenings by Larry Stults

Three Firsts!

To paraphrase an idiom, Sarasota Bay Watch isn’t letting sea grass grow under it fins. In celebration of our 10th anniversary of good works in the bay, we have in 2017 already ventured into the classroom, added a new spoil island to our cleanup docket, and forged new partnerships!

Last year SBW tested a pilot project to bring the bay into elementary school classrooms with a live scallop touch tank and a fun interactive program about marine conservation. It was a great success. So for 2017 we have teamed up with Riverview High School seniors to greatly expand this effort in a new innovative project we call “Student Teaching Students.” SBW has trained high school students to present a fun program about marine life in the bay, which includes live shellfish for students to see and hold. So far 9 different RHS students have presented the program to over 120 4th graders at Phillippi Shores Elementary School! This provides a unique and valuable youth leadership development opportunity to these seniors, and a fun and informative class session to the grade schoolers. In May we will visit another 250 3rd and 5th grade Phillippi students. In the meantime we’ve been invited to bring the bay into the classroom for 40 Anna Maria Island students as well. We love our new high school partners and look forward to expanding this project to additional schools in the future.

Another first in 2017 is a cleanup of Big Edwards Island, located at the north end of Siesta Key, with the Riverview High School Cornerstone Club. We removed lots of trash and a whole lot of invasive plants. We hope to make this an annual event and expand it to include restoration of some native plant species on the island in the future.

Also a first for 2017 is partnering with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources, the Estuary Program, and New College to cleanup Sister Keys, located near Longboat Pass. It was a great day of work and discovery of natural beauty that included not only on trash removal, but focused on knocking back invasive plants that are encroaching on these lovely restored islands.

These firsts, plus our jam-packed calendar of events and activities were volunteers can “get their feet wet for the bay,” promise a full 10th anniversary year of good deeds for our community, and another step forward in making our bay better.

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