Manateam Volunteers Shine at Community Events

Staff members Shelby and Kayleigh & volunteer Austin at our Manatee Store booth at Valentine Park during the Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival.
Staff members Shelby and Kayleigh & volunteer Austin at our Manatee Store booth at Valentine Park during the Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival.

By Gina McClain, Volunteer Specialist

It feels like just yesterday, but it was actually back in December when I asked for volunteers to join our volunteer manateam in preparation for the manatee festival season beginning in January. Since that request, your response has been amazing! We have welcomed over 50 new volunteers and grown our manateam exponentially. We have many core volunteers that continue to amaze and impress with their generosity of time to cover multiple SMC events. We also appointed a terrific Lead Volunteer, Rhonda Roberts, who is located on Florida’s Nature Coast in Homosassa. As we continue to grow our manateam with leaders like Rhonda, we can be represented at multiple same-day events during the busy winter and spring seasons.

Sara Dean and Daniel Abussi at Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival.

Together, our manateam attended 11 festivals and events, during which we educated thousands of festival-goers and raised over $20,000 in donations.

We started the year with the first, and largest, events in January: the Florida Manatee Festival and the Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival. For the latter, we had our first-ever resident artist, Sara Dean, fly down from Boston to delight festival-goers with her amazingly creative, personalized artwork. Also, this year, we resumed having booths at both the main event location and the park during both January fests.

Then we continued into February with ManateeFest, Pioneer Day, Wildlife Rescue Outreach, Nature Fest, and Spark STEM Fest.

March kicked off with Florida Springs Fest, and then Wildlife Fest, Stetson Aquatic Center Fest, Nature Coast Bike Fest, and we finished off the month’s events on March 30 with an adoption day at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and a special fieldwork opportunity with our partners at the Brevard Zoo Restore Our Shores Initiative. Whew!

Florida Springs Fest fun at Silver Springs State Park: Karissa, Gina, and Rhonda

Looking forward to April and Earth Day events, we will have multiple opportunities for our Florida volunteers to participate in various Earth Day festivities! We will send the email soon, and you can always find a full list of our events and volunteer opportunities at

As we near the end of the first quarter, I want to thank you all for your unwavering support and kindness to both SMC and manatees! As always, Save the Manatee Club is dependent upon YOU and your willingness to donate your time to attend festivals and events. All of us are incredibly grateful for each of our fabulous volunteer manateam members! If you are a lapsed volunteer or are unsure of your status, please reach out to me via email.

As we head into the heat of the Florida summer, I wish you all a safe and happy one! Please protect your skin, stay hydrated, and I will be in touch soon to plan out the fall events that will be here before we know it!

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