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SRQ DAILY Mar 23, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Effective growth is foresight. It is taking calculated risks to predict the needs of our community."

- Carol Probstfeld, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota

[Under The Hood]  Power From Struggle, Risk In Success
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

If a hearing this week in the Florida Senate offered any hint, it will be an easy sell to fund a red tide institute at Mote Marine Laboratory this year.

State Sen. Joe Gruters spent a couple minutes outlining the need to study harmful algal blooms. There was no pushback from colleagues. The Environment and Natural Resources Committee unanimously advanced a hefty ask for $3 million a year over the next six years.

The issue now goes to Appropriations, where there may be more difficulty in finding the actual dollars to spend. But Gruters doesn't sound too worried.

"Six years is a reasonable request when look at economic damage it [red tide[ does to the coast," Gruters said.

He probably doesn't have reason to fear this year. Gov. Ron DeSantis made environmental restoration a major priority upon taking office, fully aware voters across political lines want to see algae issues solved quickly. Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton pol, lived through red tide just like Gruters. Speaker of the House Jose Oliva didn’t see the disaster as vividly from Miami, but he knows the threat, and many of his members will be happy to share stories from the front lines. That’s why the entire Bay Area Delegation this year endorsed the institute as a priority this year.

Honestly, funding red tide on the heels of a disaster proves easy. It always has, even with much smaller ecological threats than the one seen in 2018. At least from the Gulf Coast, it seemed the most potent threat to a Republican majority in Tallahassee last year was the Karenia brevis tainting the water and killing local fish. Incumbents don’t want to spent October of 2020 crossing their fingers and hoping the tide calls the algae back out to sea before the next election. And frankly, Democratic incumbents don't want that either.

But Mote leaders have wisely stressed the need for multi-year funding. Grants in the immediate aftermath of algal outbreaks provide swift but waning relief. Serious study requires a long-term commitment to research.

Still, I winced a little at a hearing suggestion that six years of funding were what Mote needed to solve this problem. Gruters maintains that's all the experts truly need to get the problem under control.

But then, Mote can't show up in Tallahassee and say, actually, there's no telling how long it will take to contain red tide and mostly likely we never will. That doesn’t inspire confidence or properly sell the Sarasota institute as a gathering of experts. Sometimes the smartest thing a scientist can do is admit all they don’t know. An appropriations battle isn’t that time.

Don't worry. We can expect Mote scientists to hit this problem as hard as they can and to develop as many effective ways to treat red tide and forecast future blooms. Every bit of data will prove invaluable to the region’s ecology and economy.

But what Mote really needs is permanent funding indefinitely. No matter how much they learn in the next six years, they will be more discoveries. Questions will arise that nobody has even contemplated yet. Indeed, residents must remind themselves as research unfolds that proper study may uncover more questions than answers.

At least from a funding standpoint, that may be good news in the end anyhow. While scientists don’t want to end six years with no progress to claim, claiming victory over nature would be foolish in multiple ways. Such hubris might poison the air with a worse stench than we’ve inhaled already.

But come 2025, there may neeed to be a private source of funding. Local government may need to step up or the federal government may need to step in. Hopefully that state will continue providing needed support. On that front, it probably will help the lawmakers then to know there’s still a problem that needs to be solved.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor of SRQ Media Group. 

[]  Growing with our Community
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

Looking around our region, I see growth everywhere. The population of Manatee and Sarasota Counties is rapidly expanding, as are new neighborhoods, recreational areas and industry. Our two counties are thriving, and it is exciting to be part of it.

State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota is always focused on how it can best support our growing community. For our college to be successful in meeting the needs of our service area, we need to expand our reach to all population groups, expand our collaborations with industry partners, donors and higher education partners, and expand our programs and scheduling to meet employment and student needs.

Effective growth is foresight. It is taking calculated risks to predict the needs of our community. We must be prepared to capture the opportunities that our community creates and invest in the programs and services that allow our graduates to thrive. We must also never forget what makes us who we are. At SCF, we will always do what we say, deliver on our promises and provide a strong return on investment to our students, donors and taxpayers.

SCF is well positioned to support new residents as our population expands in new development areas like West Villages in south Sarasota County and Parrish in northwest Manatee County. Our Venice campus is adjacent to the new West Villages and Atlanta Braves developments and we own property on Erie Road where a future campus will be built in Parrish.

SCF must be flexible and responsive to the needs of our growing population and ready to develop programming to fill new employment opportunities, emerging industries or active seniors’ lifelong learning pursuits. What are their educational, employment and recreational needs? We must be able to provide impactful educational opportunities at the time and in the location that best meets students’ needs.

We are also focused on expanding our college’s presence and reach into areas that may currently be underserved or underrepresented in our student body. We are creating an Expanding our Boundaries Task Force to ensure that our student population reflects all aspects of our community. The task force will identify existing barriers to enrollment, develop relationships in our underserved populations and establish solutions to ensure that anyone willing to do the hard work has access to higher education. We must ensure that everyone knows of the quality higher education opportunities available to them in their own back yard.

We work every day to expand our collaborations with our region’s philanthropic community, business and industry partners and higher education peers. These relationships are very significant for our future, creating opportunities for students through funding for scholarships and capital projects, programming and academic progression.    

As the community’s college, we strive to be a nimble, innovative organization that adapts to the changes we see in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. Our core mission of providing engaging and accessible learning environments that result in student success and community prosperity will guide us through our region’s expansion.

SCF is poised to grow with our region and meet the challenges of our collective future because higher education will always change lives and create opportunities.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

[Correction]  Correction: March 2019, "Cast in Concrete"

In the March issue of SRQ magazine, an article about the life and legacy of Gene Leedy, Cast in Concrete, incorrectly referred to the Craney Spec Houses as the “Kramey” Spec Houses. Dick Craney was a builder/developer who was active in Polk County and partnered with Leedy on the project. 

Cast in Concrete

[SCOOP]  All Faiths Food Bank's New Pediatric Food Insecurity Screening Partnership

“Do you have enough food at home?” That one simple question in the maternity ward has created a systemic change in how Sarasota County is addressing childhood hunger. Funded by a $674,628 grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, All Faiths Food Bank recently established a three-year pilot program to reduce childhood hunger and its negative health effects. Aligned with the First 1,000 Days initiative, the Pediatric Food Insecurity Screen Project will be conducted in partnership with Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. 

All Faiths Food Bank

[KUDOS]  CareerSource Suncoast recognized as an Outstanding Business Partner by Manatee Technical College

CareerSource Suncoast was recognized as an Outstanding Business Partner by Manatee Technical College at its Spring 2019 advisory meeting on March 15. CareerSource Suncoast and Manatee Technical College have collaborated on many projects throughout the years including career fairs, MTC open houses, SkillsUSA Regional Competitions and the Construction Rodeo. Since 2017, CareerSource Suncoast has provided scholarships to over 60 students to receive training at MTC for in-demand jobs. The organization works with students throughout their tenure at MTC to connect them with employers and place them in full-time careers upon graduation.  

CareerSource Suncoast

[KUDOS]  Children First Secures Grant from Venice Golf and Country Club

Children First has received a $3,000 grant from the Venice Golf and Country Club to provide scholarships for the area’s most vulnerable youth and create a safe learning environment with qualified teachers. The support will also give their parents the chance to achieve self-sufficiency. Scholarships help to minimize the negative effects of poverty for children and their parents, and are crucial to their overall success. This grant will help to ensure that every child has access to the education, care, and nutrition they need to guarantee healthy development. 

Children First

[SCOOP]  Rescued Manatee Baca Returns to the Wild

The South Florida Museum returned a rescued manatee, Baca, to the wild on March 7 in Brevard County. The manatee spent his initial rehabilitation in a critical care facility and then was moved to South Florida Museum's Stage 2 Rehabilitation Habitat to grow to the right size and weight for release. A check-up in December helped determine that Baca was ready to return home. The Clearwater Marine Research Institute will be tracking Baca’s return to the wild, thanks to Baca's special satellite-linked tag. The tag allows animal biologists to track Baca's movements to ensure he is migrating appropriately and doing well in the wild. 

Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership

[SCOOP]  Coming Together Against Cancer Expands Unique Engagement Model

Coming Together Against Cancer (CTAC) announced the expansion of its physician/researcher/donor engagement model by adding four new pioneering physicians to the upcoming CTAC 2019 event being held on Saturday, April 13 in Sarasota. CTAC is a donor driven community-uniting donors with the common goal of eradicating cancer.  Attendees at this year’s event will be treated to presentations by the physicians about their research, their progress and a look ahead at the treatments for cancer. Participants in the inaugural 2018 CTAC event collectively donated $750,000 and 100% of the funds went to directly benefit 35 cancer programs in Florida. 

Coming Together Against Cancer

[SCOOP]  Florida Studio Theatre Mixes it up this Spring

Florida Studio Theatre announces its Spring Improv Season, which includes brand new performances every Friday and Saturday, and a special, one-night-only performance celebrating April Fools Day. The season kicks off on April 13th with FST Improv Presents: Tournament of Fools, its annual “survival of the fittest” competition. Playing every Friday in FST’s Bowne’s Lab Theatre starting April 19 is FST Improv Presents: Life’s a Beach, the show celebrates and satirizes what makes Sarasota one-of-a-kind: red tide, the plethora of roundabouts, and its constantly changing population. Continuing the fun, every Saturday is FST Comedy Freestyle, a free-form improv show that removes the prescribed format and rules of other types of improv. 

Florida Studio Theatre

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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