By Jack Salisbury
Chairman, Ocean Reef Conservation Association
The Ocean Reef Conservation Association is now in its 15th year of supporting conservation and education in the Florida Keys. We have funded scholarships in the amount of $170,000 in the past five years with 17 currently in force. Grants of $1.6 million have been awarded during this time frame. The generosity of the Ocean Reef community through the All Charities Dues Check Off and Auction have enabled the Conservation Association to provide these scholarships and grants all of which benefit students and organizations outside of Ocean Reef.
Recent grants have included:
* Installation of a Coral Camera on Carysfort Reef in Pennecamp Park;
* New water quality monitoring stations in Florida Bay for Everglades National Park;
* Support for the Mote Marine land-based Coral Nursery in Key Largo;
* Continued funding for Audubon Florida’s monitoring of Spoonbill nesting, one of the oldest continuing research projects in Florida;
* Beach clean-up in the Turtle nesting areas of Biscayne National Park;
* Educational programs targeting fifth and seventh graders in the Upper Keys consisting of classroom and field trips to the Reef and Florida Bay by the Marine Resource Development Foundation.
The scholarship applications and grant requests are reviewed by the entire volunteer Board of the Conservation Association. We meet with representatives of the various organizations we support to better understand their current plans and priorities and have a voice in projects that affect our community. They are required to provide an update of the results of prior grants that they were awarded before a new grant can be approved. Through these ongoing efforts we have developed a good relationship with the parks, refuges and sanctuaries that border Ocean Reef.
The continued support of the Ocean Reef community has enabled the Conservation Association to fulfill its mission of preserving and improving the environment and offering scholarships in the areas of marine science and environmental studies. Thank you for helping preserve “A Unique Way of Life.”