Thanks to the support of the National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation, the NSU Marine Environmental Education Center (MEEC) at the Carpenter House has introduced many new educational programs and welcomed new staff members in 2019. With the support of the Foundation, the MEEC has added more educators to expand on school and public programs. Since opening in 2017, over 40,000 guests have visited the MEEC with nearly 3,000 of those participating in school programing. School children of all ages can participate in programs designed to provide more information about endangered species, ecology and conservation, and invasive species.
In the fall of 2019, the MEEC educators started a bi-monthly Science Saturday program with various subjects for each program including ghost fishing, invasive lionfish, plankton, freshwater systems, sustainability and sea turtle nesting. Future Science Saturday program topics can be found on the MEEC website as well as Facebook and Instagram pages.
While visiting the MEEC, guests get a chance to visit their resident green sea turtle, Captain, and learn more about the threats to our local wildlife. There is a public sea turtle feeding each day at 3:30pm where you can hear Captain’s history and learn about the different sea turtle species. In addition to Captain, guests can visit with the resident box turtle, Stella, a red-eared slider named Cashew, and Clem, the resident diamondback terrapin. As the MEEC continues to grow, additional exhibits and educational opportunities will be added.
In the summer of 2019, the MEEC welcomed a new education coordinator, Carley Todd. Carley grew up on Long Island surrounded by the water, spending her childhood days exploring tidal pools and playing in the woods. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Salisbury University on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. After graduating, she worked a variety of jobs until she ended up on Big Pine Key as a Marine Science Instructor at Newfound Harbor Marine Institute. She quickly realized experiential learning was a great way for students to learn while having fun. Carley then went to the west coast of Florida as a Marine Science Educator at Sanibel Sea School where she led hands-on classes and programs about the marine environment. After a stint on land as an Environmental Educator, she went back home to the ocean and ended up at the MEEC as the Education Coordinator. She’s excited to help inspire the next generation to fall in love with the ocean and all of its inhabitants. Carley enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, playing volleyball and doing yoga in her free time.
In the fall of 2019, Kelly Martin joined the MEEC as the program coordinator. Kelly grew up in Michigan with a love for all animals. After an internship working with sea turtles, she was hooked. Kelly has worked with sea turtles in a variety of settings over the past 17 years. After graduating from Michigan State University and completing an internship with leatherbacks in southeast Florida, she took a job in animal care at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and then at Mote Marine Lab. She cared for captive loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. While working at Mote, she completed her Master’s in Marine Science at the University of South Florida while studying the auditory and cognitive abilities of captive sea turtles. She then moved back to the east coast where she conducted nesting surveys, leatherback tagging and tracking, and lighting compliance surveys in Palm Beach County for ten years. She is currently the president of Florida Leatherbacks Inc., a nonprofit that conducts leatherback sea turtle research in Martin County. When not spending her time with turtles she loves to travel, camp, hike, and volunteer with the dogs at her local animal shelter.
The MEEC’s biggest event of the year is coming up on April 25, 2020. The Free Our Seas and Beyond Art Festival will be held at the MEEC on Hollywood Beach. The MEEC partners with Free Our Seas and Beyond to host a beach cleanup and a full-day festival including vendors, artists, live music, food, and more. Please make sure to check out the website and social media pages for updates. The MEEC is located in Hollywood, FL and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-5pm.