Taking the Coast to the Kids – Improving our Waterways through Science & Recreation

Taking the Coast to the Kids – Improving our Waterways through Science & Recreation

Grant Year: 2021 | Focus Area: Environment, Recreation & Preservation | Grant Amount: $101,820 | Grant Status: In Progress

Taking the Coast to the Kids - Improving our Waterways through Science & Recreation

Bream Fishermen Association and PYC Satori Foundation, Inc.

The Bream Fishermen Association (BFA) is a well-known and highly respected organization that has assisted the city, county, state, and region as environmental stewards in protecting northwest Florida and south Alabama waters for over 40 years. Loosely organized in the mid 1960s by local fishermen who were concerned about the deterioration of regional water quality conditions, the BFA was officially chartered as a nonprofit organization in January 1970, the same year that the United States Environmental Protection Agency was created as an outgrowth of the burgeoning environmental movement. The BFA is dedicated to promoting environmental conservation and recreational opportunities for fishermen, hunters, campers and related outdoorsmen. The BFA supports water quality sampling; watershed education and recreation activities for schools and organizations, and all water sport enthusiasts who care about keeping our bays and bayous clean; and citizen science with area partners. Partnering organization PYC Satori Foundation (Satori) has a mission to inspire interest in and encourage and promote the sport of sailing and yachting and a broad range of maritime activities.

Project Description

The collaborative effort of BFA and Satori will combine the missions of both nonprofit organizations to produce an impact in the community. IMPACT 100 funds will be used to purchase a van with seating and space for cabinets, lab equipment, and supplies. This mobile lab will allow for the transport of college students and volunteers to sample and test in new areas with the data being compiled to access problem areas and assist in source tracing. A pontoon boat will also be funded to allow for larger groups to be transported to Deadman’s Island for Environmental/Marine Biology lessons, utilized for sailing groups, and for access to test sites in estuary areas. Ten virtual reality headsets will be funded and incorporated into the organizations’ school and community outreach on days when weather prevents groups from going out. Together, BFA and Satori will utilize the mobile lab and VR headsets for traveling to all 50 elementary schools in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties to allow students to "go to the coast" through VR and tour the mobile lab to learn how area waters are tested. They will serve to connect the dots of cause and effect, and the importance of protecting our waterways for the future.

Community Impact

To address a problem, one must know the source of the problem. The mobile lab will allow BFA to sample, analyze, and track water quality conditions. This data in combination with current and future land uses will help mitigate impacts and provide critical information to decision makers and land managers regarding best practices in protecting our precious waterways. Elementary school students in the central/northern parts of the counties will experience the coast, many for the first time, through virtual reality sailing and snorkeling. This exposure will enlighten them to the incredible coastal areas, the ecosystems within their community, and the water cycle. Satori outreach partners will experience an expansion of the mission through an actual boat excursion to Deadman’s Island to learn about and participate in marine ecology. Community leaders will receive compiled data that will help them make better decisions about development and future planning in the two counties. Exposure to the recreational possibilities and the aquatic life of our waterways is vital to develop a sense of ownership and to become good stewards to care for and protect all bodies of water.