Saturday, October 8, 2011

Countdown to OceanWise, and a word of thanks

It's time to plan for OceanWise! This Saturday evening is rainy and windblown, a lovely one for staying in, maybe catching the game on TV with friends and family, catching up on email or reading - maybe even getting away with a nap. It's also a chance to think about what you might be doing NEXT Saturday, when the weather will surely have changed and may even offer a crisp hint of autumn. NEXT Saturday, October 15, we'll be hosting OceanWise at the GTM NERR Environmental Education Center and THAT means we'll be hosting some of the BEST seafood in town (with an eye to sustainability), wine and locally brewed beer, friends and conversation...and a silent auction with some truly remarkable offerings. This is all made possible by a stunning list of sponsors including our local chefs and their respective restaurants (Aunt Kate's, Caps on the Water, The Kingfish Grill, Aqua Grill, The Reef, The Manatee Cafe and many more; you KNOW you love this food!) to local and regional businesses.

The silent auction promises to be really intriguing this year. Seranata Beach Club has donated a membership valued at $8,000.00, for which bidding will begin at $1500. There are works of art, including original pieces of various media. One local artisan told us the handmade jewelry item she's donated is the best piece she's ever made. There are gift certificates to a range of local and regional businesses, and many excellent bargains to be had. Get full details AND buy your tickets online. To those of you who've already got yours in hand, many thanks, and we can't wait to see you!

There are 3 critical legs supporting The Reserve: its employees, who work for the State of Florida; its volunteers, who are its heart and soul, and the Friends organization: OceanWise benefits The Friends of the GTM Reserve. The Friends organization, like similar "Friends" groups across the country associated with local National Estuarine Research Reserves, provides financial support and takes a long-range fiduciary view, helping The Reserve meet evolving objectives. The GTM NERR is richly blessed with an active, diverse volunteer base; these dedicated people comprise the Se Turtle Patrol, organize bird counts, help with adminstrative and data management, lead and coordinate educational activities, and much, much more. The NERR's staff includes scientists, reseachers, educators, communicators and more - many of them wearing more than one hat out of pure dedication. And likewise The Friends, which makes every effort to recruit community members with a range of talents to help serve needs of education, research and stewardship. Last evening all three groups united to celebrate the accomplishments and gifts of the volunteers, whose combined donated hours this past year exceeded a value of $100,000: there are no words to express what a gift this collective effort is to our community. Well, maybe these very humble ones: Thank you.

So here we are, all looking in the same direction, all with the same objectives, all hoping you might pitch in and help us. Join us for a lovely evening and help ensure the preservation of this amazing local treasure. Your kids with thank you. Your grandkids will thank you. And so will the kids and grandkids of people you don't even know. And you'll be the one enjoying that delicious, sustainable seafood, next Saturday night.

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