Event Set to Inspire Young Environmentalists 

Kids in Tampa Bay Watch’s summer camp program spent a day performing sand dune restoration work and planting sea oats. Photo courtesy of Peter Clark.

How You Can Help Save the Planet?

The Gulfport Library is hosting an event at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, for young eco-warriors – and those who are young at heart.

The library’s youth services librarian, Cailey Klasson, has put together a stellar lineup of speakers who will provide information about the numerous environmental challenges our planet faces in the coming years. Klasson said the presenters will talk about ways for young people can get involved in careers in fields such as biology and environmental science, as well as how all people can take action at the local level to help effect positive change.

Kids in Tampa Bay Watch’s summer camp program study invertebrates and fish that they caught with seine nets. Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Watch

“We are targeting teens with this event because they’re the future of our planet, but we welcome anyone to attend,” said Klasson.

Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson is set to deliver opening remarks at the event in which he will discuss his personal background in environmentalism.

Other presenters will include Amanda Hagood of Eckerd College, who will discuss hands-on learning internships for students and teachers focusing on environmental issues; Daniel Hahn of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), who “will probably deliver some bleak news about our oceans,”  said Klasson; and Keri Nelson, a Sarasota County employee who specializes in environmental policy.

The lineup will also featur Jordan Findley of Tampa Bay Watch with a very special guest— Palm, a diamondback turtle who serves as the organization’s animal ambassador.

Findley, 26, is Tampa Bay Watch’s environmental education specialist. She grew up in Indiana but moved to Florida to pursue a career in environmental science. She graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a master’s degree in biological sciences.

“I knew since eighth grade that science was for me,” Findley said. “I knew I was interested in animals and animal science. I visited SeaWorld in senior year of high school and fell in love with the marine world.”

Findley says she’s passionate about not only helping the environment, but also inspiring the next generation of the planet’s caretakers.

“I don’t want to go through a single day without making some kind of positive impact,” she said, “and in environmental science, you often see the impacts immediately. Also, environmental education is so important because if we don’t have environmental stewards in the future, what are we fighting for?”

Findley said her presentation will touch on the importance of estuaries and estuary health to the environment. “Palm will probably be way more interesting than I am,” she joked. Findley also plans to talk about the many resources – ranging from weekend volunteer opportunities to summer camps and internships – that Tampa Bay Watch has to offer aspiring young environmentalists.

For more information, contact Klasson at 727-893-1074 or cklasson@mygulfport.us.



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