Investing in the environment
to shape our Future
These grants continue our long-standing commitment to improving and protecting the environment.
– Elizabeth Barbella, President & CEO
The Community Foundation continues to support education and research projects designed to improve the health of our unique Treasure Coast environment. Several of our Fundholders are committed to awarding grants for projects that will result in meaningful action, particularly around improvement and protection of our water.
Florida Oceanographic Society Education
Florida Oceanographic Society received a grant from the Andrew and Robin Hunt Philanthropic Fund, in 2023, to support its ongoing educational programming on environmental stewardship, which reaches over 60,000 children and adults annually.
The Everglades Foundation Literacy Program
The Andrew and Robin Hunt Philanthropic Fund supported the expansion & implementation of the K-12 Everglades Literacy Program in Martin County and St. Lucie County over the course of the 2023/24 school year. This support provided training for 25 new teacher partners, in addition to maintaining and supporting our current teacher partners with a projected annual impact of an additional 800 to as many as 1,500 student
ORCA’s Citizen Science & Education
In 2023, a lead gift from We Are In This Together (W.A.I.T.T.), with matching gifts from the Minnow Fund, The Andrew and Robin Hunt Philanthropic Fund, and The Community Foundation’s Environmental Action Fund, underwrote Ocean Research and Conservation’s (ORCA’s) Citizen Science Program, which uses citizen volunteers to gather field data in area waterways to identify and map pollutant sources. The grants continue support of monitoring ORCA’s six pollution mapping sites in Martin County with the help of trained citizen scientists or community volunteers. During each quarterly monitoring event, water quality parameters (temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity), as well as sediment and water analyses (nutrients, relative toxicity, microplastics, herbicides, particle size, DNA analysis, etc.) are collected and analyzed. All of these test analyses require staff time, reagent costs, external contract lab fees, and materials fees.
The Frances Langford Fund and TCF’s Environmental Action Fund awarded a grant to The Everglades Foundation to support integration of an Everglades Literacy curriculum in Martin and St. Lucie County Public Schools. The K-12 Everglades Literacy Program provides a fully immersive learning system grounded in professional development for teachers, along with one-on-one school support. The Everglades Foundation is working to strategically engage Martin and St. Lucie County teachers and schools to host teacher training sessions in collaboration with Martin and St. Lucie County Public Schools. Teachers are provided with specialized framework and resources necessary to introduce and employ the Everglades Literacy Program curriculum into their classrooms while integrating lesson content into their other science and non-science related curricula. Once a school’s teachers have completed training, they are supported to develop Everglades initiatives in Professional Development, Curriculum Integration, Everglades Leadership, Inquiry and Project-Based Learning, and incentivized to challenge themselves to become an Everglades Champion School and extend a culture of environmental stewardship beyond the classroom throughout the school and out into their communities. The grant from The Community Foundation for Martin and St. Lucie was the first dedicated to the expansion of The Everglades Literacy Program in Martin and St. Lucie Counties.
In 2021, two $25,000 matching grants from the Frances Langford Fund and the TCF Environmental Action Fund at The Community Foundation launched a year-long research project to map the sources of pollution in the Indian River Lagoon, the nation’s most biologically diverse estuary. Maps are created for each of the pollutants studied showing “hot spots” of concentration, which will help identify what is contributing to poor water quality and where it’s coming from.
Loxa-Lucie Headwaters Initiative
Supported by one of TCFMSL’s anonymous donors, the Loxa-Lucie Headwaters Initiative focuses on the land conservation to protect the ecological corridor that connects the sources of the Loxahatchee & St. Lucie Rivers to preserve native plants and wildlife, while helping to address regional flooding, saltwater intrusion and ecological resiliency. A grassroots initiative that started with three local conservation organizations, this project has earned endorsements that have helped raise funds to acquire lands from willing sellers for permanent conservation.
ORCA’s Citizen Science & Education
The Frances Langford Fund awarded a grant to the Ocean Research & Conservation Association to support ten Citizen Science projects. ORCA’s Citizen Science program educates and engages community members in solving the problems that are leading to the degradation of the Indian River Lagoon. Through a series of workshops and trainings, ORCA’s staff rigorously prepares community volunteers to actively participate in citizen science projects – all of which were developed directly from ORCA’s current research initiatives. Teams of citizen scientists work in the field to collect water quality data, measure muck depth, and collect water and sediment samples.
ORCA’s One Health – Fishing community exposure
One Health was one of TCF’s first Projects to Watch, which studied the risk of toxin transfer from algae blooms to subsistence fishing communities in Martin County. This Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) project received a grant from the Frances Langford Fund to estimate exposure to microcystin via fish consumption.
ORCA’s – A Day in the Life of the Indian River Lagoon
One of TCFMSL’s anonymous donors has supported employing a full-time staff member of Ocean Research & Conservation Association to oversee their K-12 education program that is a part of A Day in the Life of the Indian River Lagoon program. Staff is able provide an immersive, lagoon wide, one-day monitoring event to students. Additionally, curriculum has been developed for three levels (upper elementary, middle, and high school) around this event in which ORCA’s staff go into classrooms with two lessons prior to the event to prepare the students, and three times after the event to allow students to learn how to evaluate “real” data and turn that data into conservation action.
Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit
The TCF Environmental Action Fund grant helped bring the Water/Ways exhibit to Fort Pierce in late 2021. This traveling exhibition is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program, a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to cultural organizations. Compelling text, imagery, interactives, and videos demonstrated the central nature of water in our lives