Rookery Bay Research Reserve's Team OCEAN Receives Audubon Guy Bradley Award

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Rookery Bay Research Reserve's Team OCEAN Receives Audubon Guy Bradley Award 

~Volunteer outreach program recognized for bird conservation and environmental education~


From left to right: DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein; Team OCEAN Volunteer Coordinator Jayson Horadam; Tom Marquardt, Team OCEAN; Audubon Florida Director Eric Draper. 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve's Team OCEAN (Ocean Conservation Education Action Network) was presented the Guy Bradley Award during the 2017 Audubon Assembly in St. Augustine. This prestigious award recognizes the volunteer group's contribution to environmental outreach and education regarding the reserve's natural resources and beach-nesting birds, as well as their conservation efforts at Second Chance Critical Wildlife Area (CWA). 

"DEP's longstanding partnership with Audubon has resulted in the protection of many of Florida's beach-nesting birds," said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. "Rookery Bay is a special habitat, and I'm proud of Team OCEAN's dedication to preservation and education regarding its natural resources."

Team OCEAN volunteers were recognized for posting and maintaining crossover trails as well as "Important Nesting Area" signs that alert visitors of the beach-nesting birds. Additionally, volunteers regularly assist with shore bird and sea turtle monitoring efforts. Volunteers are also trained to respond to reports of wildlife in distress, and provide outreach and educational information to boaters, residents and visitors regarding the protection of natural resources within the reserve.

"Rookery Bay is honored to receive this recognition from Audubon," said Keith Laakkonen, Rookery Bay Research Reserve director. "Team OCEAN works hard to get the word out about some of the reserve's unique coastal habitats such as Second Chance CWA and Keewaydin Island, and we've made great strides in reaching tourists, residents and boaters about the importance of our natural resources and how to help protect our resident beach-nesting birds." 

Rookery Bay, in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Audubon Florida, closes the Second Chance CWA annually from March 1 - Aug. 31, for nesting season. This closure increases the likelihood of successful breeding and preserves threatened Florida species such as the Least Tern. 

Team OCEAN is a boat-based volunteer program. During the first half of 2017, Team OCEAN's 58 volunteers donated over 2,000 collective hours. Learn more about volunteer opportunities with Rookery Bay and Team OCEAN.