U-rah-rah, Siesta!

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Beach University back in session at public beach pavilion

By John Morton

Catherine Wunderlich loves to recite this slogan:

“Beach University! We have a 100% acceptance rate and zero student debt.”

Kristen Mazzarella, a senior biologist with Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, gives a presentation. (submitted photo)

The free, long-running educational series returns in March, guiding beach-goers through a weekly 45-minute class that showcases Siesta Beach and its many characteristics. Issues regarding the environment and the beach’s habitat are often at the forefront.

“We get people who come specifically for the seminar, and then many who are just passing by and the subject matter catches their ear,” said Wunderlich, who serves as special events coordinator for Siesta with Sarasota County. “Our guests enjoy hearing about things they might never have thought about before. They learn there’s more to the beach than playing volleyball or going for a walk.”

The program, now in its 16th year, is a spinoff from the beach’s ambassador program where volunteers greet visitors and hand out literature and answer questions.

Two of them — Bruce and Joyce Broadbent — decided a sit-down seminar would be a great way to address common themes.

This year’s program will be a five -week series, running each Thursday in March starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Siesta Beach pavilion. The dates and topics:

March 3:  Siesta Key history with John McCarthy

March 10: Florida beach fossils, with Elena Burke

March 17: Marvelous mangroves, with Alyssa Vinson

March 24: Environmental impact of human behaviors, with Daniel Schewlakow

March 31: Beach nesting birds with Miri Hardy

All presentations will be recorded and posted on the Sarasota County Play Facebook page.

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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