Inspiring Wonder, Cultivating Bay Guardians

Inspiring Wonder, Cultivating Bay Guardians

Peter Clark wears many hats – planner-in-chief of habitat restoration and educational programs, friend raiser, and fundraiser. But it’s the one-on-one interaction with kids that inspires him most. “It’s one of my biggest joys, sliding all the paperwork off my desk and driving them out on the boat when I can,” says Clark, who founded Tampa Bay Watch in 1993 to inspire residents of all ages to care about – and for — the bay.

Each year, more than 3,500 children attend summer camps or field trips at the group’s Fort DeSoto Park Marine Education Center. Another 5,000 adults and students participate in community salt marsh plantings. Through the “Bay Grasses in Classes” program, students grow saltmarsh sprigs at their school to replant at coastal restoration sites. Thousands more help build oyster bar reefs and volunteer for coastal cleanups. And each August, snorkelers comb shallow-water seagrasses for blue-eyed mollusks in The Great Bay Scallop Search, an event so popular it has its own a waiting list. “What better way to teach folks about Tampa Bay than to get them out in it.”

 Did You Know? Did you know? Bay scallops only live about a year, almost all of that time spent in seagrasses that grow on the bay bottom.

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