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SRQ DAILY Jan 18, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Earle's research and activism have since taken her around the world. Her fascinating personal story is full of pioneering firsts."

- Mark Prichett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[Gulf Coast]  Heeding 'Her Deepness' to Save Our Seas
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

“No ocean, no life. No ocean, no us.”

Dr. Sylvia Earle recites that simple but deep statement often. I can’t imagine the iconic oceanographer enjoys saying it. But repeat it she must: At 84, Earle has made it her personal mission to speak for the world’s oceans, striving to inspire a global network of support to save and restore them. Before it’s too late.

Earle knows of what she speaks. She points out that 97% of the earth’s water is ocean. The ocean generates most of the oxygen in our atmosphere. It also takes up much of the carbon dioxide. “An ocean in trouble means civilization in trouble,” she has said. Earle has science on her side.

She also has experience. Earle has been diving for nearly seven decades. She has logged more than 7,500 hours underwater. (That’s almost a whole year!) When she first started exploring the ocean, Earle has said, “no one imagined that we could do anything to harm it.” Now? “The ocean is dying.” She has seen it with her own eyes.

In March, Gulf Coast Community Foundation will welcome Dr. Sylvia Earle to Sarasota for a conversation about the state of our seas and how she believes we can save them. Earle has deep ties to our Gulf Coast region. She fell in love with the ocean when she began exploring the Gulf of Mexico—her “backyard”—as a teen near Clearwater. Years later, she served as interim leader of a young Mote Marine Laboratory.

Earle’s research and activism have since taken her around the world. Her fascinating personal story is full of pioneering firsts. Among the first scientists to use SCUBA gear for marine research. Leader of the first all-female group of aquanauts who lived underwater in a capsule on the seafloor. First human to solo dive to 1,250 feet. First woman to serve as chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Earle left that gig after 18 months, feeling she could do more for the oceans as a private citizen than a bureaucrat.) Founder of companies that have advanced marine engineering and developed new equipment to explore the deep seas. First “Hero for the Planet” named by TIME Magazine.

What this trailblazer chooses to say when she returns to the Gulf Coast might not sit well with everyone. Earle doesn’t believe in eating seafood, for example. (She calls it marine wildlife.) But important conversations aren’t always comfortable. Big change isn’t easy. And Earle herself has said: “I think if others had the opportunity to witness what I have seen in my lifetime, from thousands of hours underwater, I would not seem like a radical at all.”

I am eager to hear more about what Sylvia Earle has seen and learned. Her Deepness, as she is fondly known, has been to places on our planet where no one else has. From all of her exploration, scientific study, and deep love of the ocean, she has come to understand it as the “blue heart of the planet.”

Addressing the UN a few years ago, Earle said: “The highest priority for humankind is to keep the world safe for our children. To do so means taking care of the natural ocean systems that make life possible.”

Dr. Sylvia Earle will be the featured speaker for Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Better Together luncheon on March 13 at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Reservations will be available online at GulfCoastCF.org next week.

Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[Argus]  County 2020 Priorities Correctly Focus on Infrastructure
Christine Robinson, Executive Director

The County Commission has set its Board priorities for 2020.  The final agenda was ratified this past Tuesday. It was divided into two lists, “Top Priorities” and “High Priorities.” These lists tell us what the county commission is thinking about, where they want staff to focus, and what they want to do in the future.

On behalf of The Argus Foundation, I would like to congratulate the County Commission and county administration for a list that is infrastructure heavy, as it should be.

The County 2020 Board Priorities: Policy Action Agenda

Top Priorities

  • Future of County Administration Location
  • Medical Examiner/Coroner/Emergency Services Building
  • Mote Funding: If, When, How
  • Affordable and Workforce Housing
  • Solutions to Ensure Wastewater at AWT Standards
  • Modern Mobility/Transit

High Priorities

  • Bay Park Conservancy
  • Sport Tourism Development Strategy: Goals, Best Practices, Report with Options, County Role and Direction
  • Progress on Design and/or Funding for “Gap” Roads
  • Road Resurfacing: Service Level, Direction and Funding Increase Decision
  • Stormwater Policy and Management: Direction, Project Priorities and Funding Mechanism

With over 60% of this agenda targeted on infrastructure, the Commission has focused this agenda to the appropriate role of county government.  

Commissioner Nancy Detert aptly called items like these “unglitzy.”  She’s right; there are no fun ribbon cuttings when it comes to road resurfacing or stormwater. But it’s the correct direction, and much of the infrastructure priorities listed also affects the health, safety and welfare of our citizens.

This list is not something that catches the attention of local news for a sustained period. It’s unlikely to be a conversation piece on social media, and it is not the type of thing that packs a commission room full of people wearing the uniformed T-shirt color du jour. 

This list should be that way though. You should know where your commission is going in its thoughts this year and just as you would take the time to complain about something you don’t like, you should take the time now to tell them that infrastructure matters. These priorities reflect a thoughtful start to 2020 and will create a legacy for each of these county commissioners.

Let’s hope that they follow through and don’t get distracted by the “glitzy” stuff, that they always think about these priorities when they are allocating budget dollars, and that that the resurfacing of a road doesn’t get replaced by an optional amenity. 

Thank you Sarasota County Commissioners for your focus on what matters. Thank you to the County Administration for making sure that infrastructure is considered in your budget proposals. Thank you to county staff for understanding that your honesty as to the status of our infrastructure is vital for our decision makers. 

The Argus Foundation supports an agenda that is infrastructure-focused with health, safety, and welfare in mind.  We congratulate county government. Now, stay the course.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Higher Education]  Studentsourcing a Solution at SCF
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

A skeptic might say that community college students and medical research do not belong in the same sentence, but at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, students are not only participating in that research, they are getting experience that leads them into careers in science.

Through a course called Tiny Earth, SCF students are taking part in a global movement to “studentsource” the solution to antibiotic resistance, which annually sickens millions and results in billions in healthcare costs. If you have seen headlines about superbugs, they are most likely referring to antibiotic resistance.

Bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause. Its rise can be attributed to several things, including the overprescribing of antibiotics, patient misuse of prescriptions and antibiotic overuse in feeding livestock. Two million Americans become ill due to antibiotic resistance each year resulting in more than $30 billion in annual treatment costs. Due to lack of profits and high development costs, pharmaceutical companies are no longer developing new antibiotics. Educators and students are filling the gap to discover the next generation of antibiotics and address this crisis.

Tiny Earth is a microbiology laboratory course designed to inspire students to pursue careers in science and address the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Eric Warrick, associate professor in SCF’s Department of Natural Sciences, SCF was among the first 24 partners in Tiny Earth and one of the first four community colleges to take part in this global network of instructors and students focused on studentsourcing antibiotic discovery from soil.

The Tiny Earth course replaces the traditional microbiology lab class by engaging students in the antibiotic resistance research project, taking part in a real-world project producing results unique to their efforts. At SCF, the course is normally taught to biotechnology and nursing majors, along with other health science-focused students.

Dr. Warrick and his colleagues have found that students who engage in research early in their college careers are more likely to pursue a degree in science, technology, engineering or math, earn better grades and complete their degrees more quickly. Student surveys indicate that those who take the course feel more ownership over their education and have greater pride in their accomplishments.

The name Tiny Earth reflects the program’s global reach and microscopic subjects. Today there are about 10,000 students enrolled in the course each year in 45 states and 15 nations. The curriculum is the same at each member school, meaning students at SCF are successfully completing the same coursework as those at Yale and other major research universities.

Students collect soil from the local environment to find bacteria that produces antibiotics. Students in SCF’s program focus on the local marine environment. After students conduct tests to see if they can find antibiotic activity in their samples, SCF partners with labs at Florida Southern College and Florida State University to further investigate the samples.

SCF students have published their findings in international microbiology journals, presented their research at regional and national conferences, and received numerous awards and recognitions, proving you can do great scientific research at a community college.

Tiny Earth is an excellent example of SCF’s “you can get anywhere from here” credo. Our students are gaining the experience and confidence to be successful anywhere they chose to go while they combine a community college education with critical medical research … despite what a skeptic might think.

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

[In the January 2020 Edition]  New Year. New You.

Happiness often renders health, longevity, well-being and success. But happiness isn’t something that just happens. Optimists may look at the glass half full, pessimists rather see it bleakly emptied. But opportunists, they grab the glass and go fill it themselves. Everyone has the power to make small changes in their lifestyle—from surroundings, relationships and mindfulness, to diet, fitness and sleep behavior—that can help set the course for a brighter mood and sunny disposition. With the dawn of a new decade, get strong, be well and prosper. Bring on 2020. 

Full article.

[SCOOP]  Sarasota Orchestra Presents Iconic Songs of the 70s’ in May Outdoor Pops Concert

The Sarasota Orchestra’s Seventh Annual Outdoor Pops Concert honors the music from the 70s May 8 and 9 at Ed Smith Stadium. Under the baton of guest conductor Chris Confessore, Iconic Songs of the '70s is a symphonic journey back in time to a great era of music. The concert includes songs such as Fire and Rain, Landslide, Wild World, You’ve Got a Friend, If You Could Read My Mind, Time in a Bottle and more. The show features vocals of Nashville based duo, Swearingen & Kelli, who faithfully recreate the magic of the '70s singer-songwriters. Each performance of the Iconic Songs of the 70s’ program will end with a fireworks display.  

Sarasota Orchestra

[KUDOS]  Sarasota Military Academy raises $82,000 through Donor Match Campaign

In December, cadets from Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) received an opportunity from a donor, Ms. Phyllis Siskel, to earn $50,000. Siskel, a long-time supporter of SMA, announced plans to match all contributions to the Academy up to $25,000. However, when $41,000 was collected, Siskel decided to match the additional funds for a total of $82,000 raised. When Siskel brought this unique opportunity to raise $50,000 with her $25,000 match, SMA staff and cadets began raising awareness through social media and email campaigns. The original goal of matching Siskel’s donation was achieved before the end of 2019, and as the goal was quickly surpassed, Siskel responded with an update to her original match. Her donations have assisted in providing classroom materials, opportunities for extracurricular activities, cafeteria equipment, and more.   

Sarasota Military Academy

[SCOOP]  The Ringling Launches Community Gallery with Student Photography Exhibition

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is pleased to announce the opening of its new Community Gallery February 2. The Community Gallery’s first exhibition will feature photography by students from across the state of Florida. The juried exhibition asked high school art students to respond to the exhibition Manuel Álvarez Bravo: Specters and Parables, by photographing the familiar in a new light. Students were asked to address topics such as culture in the face of modernization, the untold stories of people in the community and shining a light on those who are forgotten. A panel of Ringling staff judged the submissions, and 12 winning photographs will be displayed as part of Manuel Álvarez Bravo: Students Respond.  

The Ringling Museum

[SCOOP]  SHINE Medicare Counseling Program Seeks Volunteers

Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders is announcing an exciting and rewarding opportunity to make a difference in the lives of elders and people with disabilities in Southwest Florida. The SHINE Program is seeking volunteers, including bilingual volunteers, to assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers in Southwest Florida. Requirements to become a SHINE volunteer include an interest in assisting seniors and people with disabilities, along with basic computer knowledge and internet navigation skills.  Specialized training and informational materials are provided to all SHINE volunteers. Potential SHINE volunteers may contact Camilita Aldridge, SHINE Liaison, at (239) 652-6900 for more information about volunteer opportunities or to apply.  

Florida Shine

[SCOOP]  2020 Forks & Corks Winemaker Events

The Sarasota-Manatee Originals are excited to celebrate the 13th Annual Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival, running January 23-27. Taking place at participating Originals’ member restaurants across Sarasota, Manatee and Venice, the 2020 Winemaker events will feature multi course dinners with top wineries such as Rombauer Vineyards from Napa Valley, California, Champagne Collet from Champagne France and more. For reservations, guests are encouraged to contact participating restaurants directly. In addition to the winemaker dinners, the multi-day event will offer retail tastings on Saturday, January 25. The community will be peppered with several “pop-up” retail tasting tents hosted by some of the area’s leading local wine merchants.  

Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival

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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