Seven years ago, the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station opened its doors to Santa Rosa County as a classroom by the sea. Over the years, the station has grown into a hub of Marine Science outreach and education for the Florida Panhandle. In 2014, the director, Charlene Mauro, received the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators for the program. The station has much to offer, but limited space. Therefore, the station and its supporting non-profit, northwest Florida Marine EDGE (Education and Discovery of Gulf Ecosystems) is currently in the beginning stages of expansion.
The expansion will be known as the Gulf Coast Discovery Center (GCDC). The GCDC will play host to 5,000 square feet of exhibit space. The exhibits were designed by a SeaWorld exhibit designer. The different exhibits will show off the Deep Sea habitat, an artificial reef exhibit similar to the one off Navarre Beach, marine debris and a 1000 gallon touch tank. The Discovery Center will also have a classroom area, office area, and conference room and on-site water testing for college students to come and use for research purposes.
After the completion of the Discovery Center, the “Gateway to the Gulf” pavilion will be built. The pavilion will serve as an outdoor classroom, with a 5,000 gallon touch tank and a live feed screen from the reef camera that will be installed on the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary.
Currently, the Discovery Center is in the funding stage. It was one of the top three projects in Santa Rosa County to receive money from the RESTORE Act, a result of the BP oil spill of 2010. Northwest Florida Marine EDGE and the Station are both actively fundraising, but can use as much help as possible.
Adam Morris, a junior and first year Honors student, has only been volunteering with the station for little over a year, but is already deeply rooted in the organization. Whether he is educating elementary students about the marine environment, rubbing elbows with celebrities like Dr. Guy Harvey, or working on outreach programs with the Northwest Florida community, Adam is always looking out for the stations’ interests.
If you have any questions about the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, the Gulf Coast Discovery Center, internship/employment opportunities, and/ or community service projects, please email Adam Morris at email@example.com
Written by: Adam Morris, first year Honors student