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Science Solutions at Rookery Bay

Aug 18, 2020 | Informed Citizens, Reserves, Rookery Bay, Florida, What We Work For

The Science Solutions planning team meets with a group of featured speakers: Adam DiNuovo, biologist with Florida Audubon; Brad Cornell, Audubon of the Western Everglades policy director, and Keith Laakkonen, Rookery Bay Reserve director. The link to a recording of their talk can be found here.

With their new virtual Science Solutions series, Florida’s Rookery Bay Reserve has not skipped a beat in serving up science-focused estuary education and training. 

Originally planned as an in-person symposium, the program’s premise was to give Rookery Bay friends, fans, and partners the skills and opportunity to do more with the Reserve’s long-term monitoring data. 

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted  Rookery Bay’s staff to pivot to a virtual platform, allowing more than 350 people from Florida to Alaska to connect and learn from the Reserve in the first half of the series.

Each month, the team hosts a webinar to share a success story from the Reserve and a virtual skill-building workshop on topics including shorebird protection, mangrove restoration, social science, science communication, and ecosystem services modelling. 

“The past few months have been tough for everyone in our community, from students and teachers to volunteers, scientists, and community leaders,” says Brita Jessen, research coordinator at the Reserve. “We highlight the success stories to reflect on how much good work this community has accomplished and to explore the ingredients and steps to build successful partnerships.”

Dr. Mike Savarese (right), who presented at the July Science Solutions webinar on building alliances between coastal scientists and decision makers, in the field.

Science Solutions is for anyone interested in learning about Rookery Bay’s environment. Along with students, scientists, and environmental professionals, the series has been popular with Reserve visitors and friends.

“We get a lot of retired ‘snowbirds’ at our Reserve,” says Jessica McIntosh, coastal training program coordinator at Rookery Bay. “With this series, they’ve been able to take part and stay connected with the Reserve, even if they aren’t currently at their Florida home.” 

“Part of my role as education coordinator is to plan events to spread the word about the Reserve to a variety of audiences, from K to gray,” says Sarah Falkowski, the Reserve’s education coordinator. “In this remote world, virtual webinars have actually been a boost in our reach—in numbers, types of audiences, and geography. Never underestimate the power of sharing your story far and wide!”

The series also has helped the Reserve better understand the needs of the local community and use that information to adapt their programs.

“We wanted to create opportunities for our community to keep moving forward through professional training,” says Jessen. “The webinars highlighted certain steps taken in those success stories that were then explored in the trainings. This is our affirmation that the coastal science community is resilient, just like our natural resources!”

“Through the series, I’ve gained practical skills and tools for thinking about whom to bring to the table and how to more effectively engage in discussions about resource management issues,” says Marcy Cockrell, a biological administrator with Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Science Solutions participant. “The skills and tools from the series immediately apply to my work, and I plan to use them for both current and future projects.”

Interested in hearing the good word from Rookery Bay Research Reserve? Check out the upcoming and archived Science Solutions here.

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What We Work ForInformed CitizensScience Solutions at Rookery Bay