Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Monday, September 26, 2016

Joyce Hough, Key Largo



“I was born in Seoul South Korea and my family came to the states in March of 1977. My dad was in the U.S. Army and got stationed in Homestead so we came to the States.

When we first arrived in the U.S. I was diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities. I spoke Korean and was put into English speaking and Spanish speaking classes. They couldn’t figure out why I was quiet and stayed to myself in a corner. I couldn’t understand anyone. Finally they figured it out and got me help.

In the 80’s my mom came down to the Keys and opened a laundry matt in Tavernier Town, and we have been here ever since.

I have been in the Keys so long, and it has changed so much.

When I was in high school I was the vice-president of Students against Drunk Driving. I have seen so many people die from it. We live in paradise but we have problems.

When I graduated from high school I wanted to be a vet.

I’ve had a hard life.

My parents got divorced when I was 5 and my dad left. He was physically abusive; that’s how we got to the Keys and my mom opened the laundry mat; she had that for almost 20 years. Now she works at Mariners in housekeeping; for 17 years! She’s doing great.

Me, when I was in high school, I got into drugs and ended up in rehab. I’ve stayed clean. It’s still a struggle, but I go to meetings and I’m making it.

When my biological dad died I received a trust fund. I paid my mom’s house off, bought her a car, traveled, and acquired friends who were around just for the money.

I have lived through sexual abuse.

I was in a car accident in 2004; my truck went through a chain link fence, flipped 5 times and when I stopped I was about 10” from a concrete barrier. I had another car accident in 2013 that I walked away from. I was driving on Card Sound when I had a blowout and hit the guard rail. My car ping ponged and spun around. Luckily, I was the only car involved. I was rushed to Homestead Hospital and they told me I almost broke my neck.

I suffer from bi-polar and paranoid schizophrenia.

I lost my best friend suddenly a couple of years ago. That hit me like a ton of bricks; she was only 31.

As I am getting older, I am learning things and realizing who my true friends are. I am pushing the bad people away.

I have learned to take my meds. I have studied my illnesses and have learned about them so I can deal with them better and do what I really need to do. I am finally able to be comfortable in my own skin. I feel like the pieces of my puzzle are finally falling into place.

I am now 41 years old and I want to pay myself on the back. I have been through so much, but I am here and I am healthy, and I get to watch my kid grow up. I have a great 19-year-old daughter, who is beautiful, independent and driven.

God has a plan for me because there are too many times He had the opportunity to take me; I have to be here for a reason. I could have died so many times. I count my blessings. Life is great now. I am drug free. I feel like, after all the trauma I have been through, that I am a Phoenix rising from the ashes. I have come out stronger.”



Friday, September 23, 2016

Jennifer Potter, Key West




“I was born and raised in Key West. My mother and father operated a charter boat business, literally just 4 blocks away from our home, out of Charter Boat row. I spent my entire childhood bagging bait and trying to convince random strangers they needed to book a once in a lifetime fishing excursion. I grew up in the Meadows in a house that my late grandfather built. I had an incredible childhood running up and down the streets barefoot and playing with the neighborhood kids.

I was always the type of kid that could talk to anyone and would somehow persuade you into buying something. I was always at the docks trying to sell the charter boat captains my million dollar ideas; I would convince them that they needed to buy whatever it was I was selling (books, baked goods, lemonade).

When I was 16 years old and attending Key West High School, my friend Leon Curry and I launched our clothing line ‘Joven Fashions’. Joven of course meaning young in Spanish. We sold our wears to several local boutiques and down at Mallory Square. Everything we made was handmade; we painted, sewed, and knitted everything (at times we would lure my mother into working for us). We worked 3 jobs and never took no for an answer. We were the type of kids with a vision, a dream, and we wanted it to work. We would go to concerts and try to give our creations to celebrities or anyone willing to wear our line.

After years of designing, I was thrown into the world of Hip-Hop and R&B. I was enrolled at FIT in New York City, I was supposed to be studying menswear design. I quit school to dress rappers. I was offered a styling job assisting celebrity stylist, June Ambrose, on the set of a Ne-yo music video and the rest is history. I met Hype Williams, music video director, on set and he quickly became my mentor. He taught me a lot about business and success.

I styled numerous celebrities for years in Miami. I traveled the country living out of my suitcase working for prominent labels such as, Gap, H&M and Walmart.

When the economy took a dive I had to come back to the Keys and figure out a new plan. I knew I always wanted to design and create. Growing up in Key West, I knew I had this unique freedom to do as I wish.

My grandmother passed away in 2002, 2 years’ shy of watching me graduate from Key West High School. She was the most influential person in my life. I had inherited several boxes of her jewelry when she passed away. These boxes sat for years without me ever wearing or touching them. Her jewelry collection, as one might imagine living on an island, was mostly seashells and palm tree pieces with the occasional religious medallion. It wasn’t my style to say the least. I wanted to find a way to honor my grandmother and wear her pieces to keep her close to heart, so I melted everything. I started sketching and the Jennifer Potter Collection was born. I think it is an incredible way to keep my grandmother alive; She is scattered throughout the country (figuratively speaking of course) in 14K Gold pieces that have caught the eyes of complete strangers.

I knew I always wanted more. I’ve been this way since I was a kid. Ask anyone on the island that knows me, they will all agree. My heart belongs to inspiring people and rescuing dogs. I wanted to find a way to give back and inspire women so I designed a very special piece out of 14K gold that reads “Keep Going”. I feel this piece is one we can all relate to. I have it tattooed to my body in my best friends handwriting to be a positive affirmation for myself.

Look. I don’t have all the answers. Actually, I am still trying to figure out life, but what I do know is everyone is fighting a battle. I have friends dealing with weight loss, cancer, financial problems, school, relationships, and I wanted to inspire them. I tell all of my friend’s daily you have two choices; Give up or Keep Going. I am launching the Keep Going campaign, which will showcase real women with real stories of strength, courage, and perseverance. I had the opportunity to shoot two women; one young lady battled with weight, self-harm, and eating disorders most of her life. I shot her as I shoot all my models, tastefully nude. You can see her scars, her excess skin, but what you can’t see is her strength. This woman is a warrior; she is powerful and let me tell you there is so much beauty in those scars!

I want to inspire the girl sitting at home who feels less than perfect-Darling you alone are enough. You are perfect and you have a light to shine!

I want to impact the word we live in while making women feel beautiful. I plan on donating a percentage of each piece sold to NEVA and the American Cancer Society. I know you don’t know me and you barely know my story, but I believe in you…. Keep Going!!”

To check out Jennifer's Keep Going Campaign go to the link: http://www.jenniferpotterjewelry.com/the-brand/our-mission

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jeff Wingate - Bee Keeper, Key Largo


“It was during an early mid-life crisis that I came to the Keys 24 years ago, the spring after Andrew.
I was married living in New York when it didn’t work out and I went back to Texas. I had been back in Texas for 2 weeks and I was tired of being in restaurant/bar management, so I decided to become a scuba instructor and move to paradise. Little did I know there was no way to afford a mortgage and all the other bills on a scuba instructor’s income, but I did it.
I came down and took all of my courses at Ocean Divers, then got a job with Captain Slate. I worked at Slate’s for a couple of years and got quite a bit of experience out on the boat and teaching.
3 weeks into being a dive instructor we had a fatality on the boat. I had to pull a guy back to the boat doing rescue breathing in 4 foot seas; he had had a heart attack. Welcome to reality! That was a horrible event, but that is the incident that made me realize what a great community the diving community is here. The story was on the VHF radio and everyone had heard about it. I went down to Sharky’s to have a beer and everyone and their brother showed up to pat me on the back and tell me it would all be ok. The support was wonderful and the support showed to me that day was a really cool experience.
Dave and Debbie Williams owned the small boat, Wreck Diver, at Slate’s and they decided to sell it, so I bought it and got my captain’s license. I worked with Slate for a while then went out as an independent.
We had a spring season in 2001 where the wind seemed to blow 25-30 knots out of the south/south east for what seemed like 2 months straight. No charters = no business = no money. I was burned out after almost 10 years in the biz and I began taking some classes to get some IT certifications. Then came 9/11 and the Scuba and Charter business dropped off again making 2001 the year that broke the camel’s back; I sold the boat and got an IT job with TIB (The Islamorada Bank). The rest, I guess, is history. I have been with TIB, now Capitol, ever since.
A few years ago I got into home brewing and have really enjoyed that hobby, so much so that I’m now president of the Upper Keys Home Brew Club and really enjoy brewing my own beer and exploring all the possibilities out there; making and experimenting with new beer styles. About 18 months ago I became interested in Mead a.k.a. Honey Wine, and that led me to the bees….
Bees are my newest hobby. But they are more than a hobby. I guess passion is the right word…I have truly fallen in love with the bees.
I have a friend in Houston that has been keeping Bees for years and who has regaled me with stories of his beekeeping exploits. When I decided to get into it I picked his brain, did some research online, and thought to myself “that doesn’t look too hard” and took the plunge and ordered the equipment and some bees and jumped in with both feet.
I have gone from 2 hives in the back yard the first season to 28 hives scattered around the upper Keys. I met Sarah Hamilton from the Electric Coop on a bee rescue up at Ocean Reef and worked with her up there. The electric concrete poles along the highway are all hollow and bees love them. No matter how hard FKEC tries, if there is one hole left open in the pole, bees will find it. The problem is, the linemen working on the poles get to either wear a protective bee suit or a high voltage protective suit, there is no such thing as a high voltage bee suit! When the Coop has to work on the poles that have bees in them, they have to kill the bees to have access. I wanted to save those bees and had Sarah’s blessing.
I started putting out swarm traps last spring. When bees reproduce, the old queen takes about 60% (10-15,000) of the bees and leaves, finding a new place to live. The old queen leaves behind queen cells; when the first new queen emerges, she kills the other queen cells and then you have a new queen with the balance of the bees left behind and a new hive started by the old queen. With the blessing of FKEC I put out swarm traps to catch the swarms as the colonies split to keep them from moving out of one pole and infesting another. Once caught, I relocated them to a safer place to live. Over the course of the spring and early summer I caught about 40 swarms.
I know people think the mosquito spraying is killing the bees and yes it does kill some and it always makes me sad to see it. It also affects the dragonflies and the lady bugs and all the little things flying around that time of day too, which is horrible, but that’s the price we pay for paradise. I was concerned when I started beekeeping so I met with mosquito control and they placed me on their notification list and advise me of when sprays are to occur and provide me with all sorts of information about what they spray and how it affects the insects. With all of the Zika hysteria you would think there would be a lot more spray activity this year but they have only sprayed 1 aerial spray more this year than last to date. There has been a lot of discussion about what chemicals are in use but what chemicals they are using are not really that important, and I’ll tell you why. They are putting the chemicals out in what is called a micro aerosol; little teeny tiny drops in a spray. They are targeting little tiny mosquitoes, not a big bee. The bees need way more spray for it to affect them and the spray becomes inert after 30-45 minutes. Once they spray it and it finally gets to the ground it has degraded enough that it just doesn’t have any affect anymore and has no residual affect. The spray is not lingering on the pollen or in the nectar like crop pesticides which are much much worse since they are engineered to have long lasting effects and the bees carry it back to the hive in the nectar and on the pollen and it can kill the entire colony, not just the bees directly exposed to it. I hate it, I won’t lie, but I have also been to the Everglades in July and August and know if we didn’t spray, we couldn’t live here and enjoy it like we do.
Bees have a lot of other challenges that are making it into the news and while there is some truth in most of the stories there are also a lot of reports that are colored somewhat by the author’s views and there are some really inaccurate statistics in the stories you see out there on the internet. Don’t be a sheep, don’t follow the crowd and believe everything they tell you. Not all of it is true. I see dead bees, sometimes a couple of thousand in front of a group of hives after a spray and I don’t like it, but it was that way last year and the year before that and according to some old timer beekeepers, it’s better than it used to be now that they are spraying chemicals that are less toxic. Another thing to remember, worker bees live about 45 days; the bees that are dying are at the end of their life span anyway and the sprays don’t affect the bees in the hive or the queen. Judging by the number of wild colonies out here, we are ok; just do your part.
Don’t complain about the mosquito spraying, do something. The Mosquito Control people don’t spray just to spray. They have traps and monitor mosquito levels and when they get to a certain level they spray. Walk around your yard and the empty lot next to you. Turn your planter dishes over, flip over your bird baths. Don’t let containers collect water and then sit. Don’t let standing water stay. It rains all the time here. It only takes 7-10 days from egg to flying mosquito. Bromeliads are terrible because they hold standing water inside the plant; unless you spray your bromeliads every couple of days to move the water out and get new water in it, they will hold water and mosquito larva.
One more thing to mention; the studies of the bees and where the numbers are coming from are all done through volunteer surveys. Think about who is filling out the surveys; is it the bee keeper who is having a great year and doing well and is busy, or is it the bee keeper who has lost hives and is not doing so well? The surveys are voluntary, so they don’t cover the whole span, only those areas and hives of registered bee keepers who decide to fill out the survey. There isn’t any statistical validity to them. Remember the part earlier about every colony splitting every year? If there wasn’t some death and colonies that didn’t make it we would be up to our eyeballs in bees and their population would double every year.
I do ‘host’ bee hives on people’s property. I am always open to that, but every yard is not a good fit. The yard has to fit the profile I am looking for; proximity to wooded areas, places with lots of plantings, places that are safe from pets and children. It’s a win win…the bees get a good home and the host gets a share of the honey! 
I like the idea of putting bees out there. It is a fascinating hobby and I love it, I love exposing and teaching others about bees! Bees are just so interesting.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trish Docherty Gibson, Key West


I grew up in central Pennsylvania. My parents were professors at Penn State; they were in the sciences, microbiology and biochemistry. I went into law and basically had a full scholarship at Penn state; I went to law school in Harrisburg, PA, but later transferred to the University of Miami so I could work for the Public Defender’s office. That’s how I ended up in south Florida.

During the first year or two that I was in Miami, I was working at the News Café from midnight until 8 A.M., I had 30 credits of law to finish, I was working at the Dade County Public Defender’s office, and I had to write a thesis for my school up north... I didn’t sleep at all! Believe it or not, I actually made more money as a waitress at the News Café than I made at the Public Defender’s office. I came down to Key West to talk with the Monroe County Public Defender and was hired on the spot. I was planning to move here on August 1st, but there was a hurricane which delayed me a couple of days, so I’ve been in the Keys for 22 years as of August 4th.

I came down initially with a boyfriend. But as most of those stories go, it didn’t work out. Interestingly enough, I met my husband, Barry, here in the Keys after I had been here for 3 or 4 years. He‘s from Pittsburg. Our families were 2 hours away from each other up north, and we met here in the Keys! He came down on vacation and never left. He also moved down with somebody, a girlfriend; same story…she didn’t stay and he did.

We live in Key West, although as the Chief Assistant to the Public Defender for 12 years, I work in all 3 offices in the county, Marathon, Plantation Key and Key West. As Chief Assistant, I have a full case load and I am also an administrator. I do all the death penalty cases, all the violent sex offender cases; I do civil cases and regular cases as well. So in addition to my normal duties defending my clients, I also travel up and down the Keys assisting and training my attorneys. In the Marathon office I do some of the bigger trials just because they are gaining experience as they assist me and they are learning that way. The Plantation Key office is very well trained so I don’t have to spend as much time there. I also go to Tallahassee to assist my boss, and I go to the budget meetings, for both state and county.

I love my job. It’s what I’ve always strived to do. I love trial work, I really do, but it’s been 21 years and I’m ready to take a little break from that. I’m ready to do primarily administrative work. I decided to run for Public Defender because it’s the natural progression. Being Chief Assistant is kind of the training ground for becoming Public Defender. I have worked my way up, knowing this was where I wanted to go. I would like to lead the Public Defender’s office for no less than 16 years, which would be 4 terms. At that time my daughter will be off at college.

Many people ask me, “How can you defend someone when you know they are guilty?” If I had a nickel for every time I’m asked that question, I could certainly retire. The answer is that I truly believe in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is so near and dear to me that when I actually went and saw it in DC, I got goosebumps looking at it. I believe that this country is at a pivotal point right now and I do not want to see any loss of rights by anybody. We have this living breathing document that was created so that our country could grow and so our people’s rights would be protected - the poor, the black, the gay, the straight, the white… you know, everyone. I so truly believe in it, it’s how I am able to do this job. Without it in the criminal justice world we might as well be a country like Iraq or Iran…where suspicion is enough for conviction. It is really important to me that our rights are protected; that everyone’s rights are protected. One thing that I think I’ve brought to the table in the last 21 years is that when dealing with the victims’ families I’m kind, I’m caring and I show them respect, so they don’t feel like the system is out to get them.

Juggling a busy career with having a family isn’t easy, but you can make it work. We have a daughter, Taylor; she’s 8 and is absolutely the most adorable thing in the world! I have a newfound respect for single parents. I’m able to make it work because I have a great husband who is willing to pick up the slack when I can’t do it. I don’t know how anyone could do it by themselves. I’ve sometimes worried if I’m doing the right thing, but I hope Taylor will one day respect the fact that her mother was able to have a successful career and have a family. Can you have it all? No, I guess not; some things have to suffer. But, I hope the example I’m giving her is worth any other areas that might lack due to my choices. She will know that she can do anything and still be a woman…she can even be President!

I think that I’m showing my daughter a whole new world that just two generations ago women didn’t know. I taught law at St. Leo’s University in Key West for 15 years, and I would bring her to class a lot of times because my husband was working, so she got to see her mom in front of a classroom, with people listening to her. I haven’t taken to her the courtroom yet because I deal with people that I don’t want her exposed to yet. But, one day I will certainly show her the courtroom.

I am incredibly proud of my daughter. She is such a wonderful child. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments…! But I am also proud of the fact that I have worked really, really hard to get where I am. I was lucky in a lot of ways. My college was completely paid for, and I did have help paying for my law school. But, I worked really hard; I worked through high school, I worked through college and law school. Now, I get up early and I work, I campaign, I’m a mom... I think that things come to those who work really hard and put effort into what they do. I hope that transfers to my daughter and that she’s not one of those people who just expect things to come to them; I want her to know she has to work for them. So, I’m very proud to be a mom, but I’m also proud that I’ve worked so hard to get to this point.

When I first moved to Key West from Miami, I literally said to myself, “What did I do?” It was a very foreign place to me; it was very odd! I had moved from Philly to Miami, and then to the Keys, and it was very different! For the first year I drove back to Miami almost every weekend. Interestingly enough, it was softball that got me into the community. You know, I had met lawyers through my work, but I just couldn’t break into the community. Then I joined the softball league and suddenly I got to know a lot of people.

I got a boat because the boating is amazing here! I love the neighborhoods; I love the way we all take care of each other. It’s the people of the Keys who keep me here. Every time we consider moving to the “real world” (air quotes!), friends who have done it say, “Don’t do it! You’re not going to find what you think you’re missing. You’re not going to find the people anywhere that you have there.” It’s important to me to raise my child in a place where people know and care about each other. There is an amazing amount of generosity in this community. Any tragedy, any illness, the community is there to help. It’s just what we do.

These last few years of campaigning and traveling up and down the Keys, I’ve gotten to know about lots of gems I didn’t even know existed. I love living in Key West, but I have really fallen in love with Islamorada. I told my husband that and he thought I was crazy. Then we recently spent a long weekend up there while my daughter was away, and he has seen the light. The people are so nice, the restaurants are wonderful, and it’s closer to the mainland. I don’t know that we will be moving up there any time soon, but I can see traveling up that way more often.

I think I’m a fun person, but I also think a lot of people don’t see that because of how seriously I take this job. But, I enjoy life, and I love the Keys. When we go boating, which hasn’t been often enough lately, my stress level goes down immediately! I love to watch my daughter and Dottie, our Jack Russell, play for hours. They just run around the house and swim and enjoy life. I really enjoy being home with my family. On the rare occasion that my husband and I do go out any more, we are always ready to go home early. Seriously, we have to force ourselves to stay out past 10 o’clock and that’s fine! I guess it is part of really growing up and becoming adults; I enjoy time at home with my family so much more than going out.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Suzy Roebling, Rock Harbor


“Our family moved to Key largo in 1968. My dad and mom were both Miami natives and we were always in boats. At different times, my father, Tom Roebling, had an airboat for the Everglades. He ran a charter boat, and fished commercially for yellowtail, all while building houses. We spent many days and nights coming south for skin diving and fishing, both in the backcountry and off the ocean side of the Keys. After many trips and vacations, we five kids were ecstatic to live here full time. A few years after we moved here, my mother, Marilyn Roebling, began teaching and founded the Canettes at Coral Shores High School.
The memories from those days are like we were living a dream. The ledges on the inside of our basin were stuffed with lobster; they were stacked atop one another in June. We rarely went to the reef or beyond to fish because we could run out a mile or so to some sweet spot and return with a 15 pound mutton or grouper within an hour. Our neighbor, a native Conch, kept sea turtles in his salt water pool, and our land sheltered families of both marsh rabbits and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes. The waters over the reef tract were crystalline and filled with colorful life, but our nearshore flats on the ocean side were also highly productive. We used to find conch grazing, numerous sponges, and all types of mollusks in the rocky shoreline in quantities I rarely see anymore: Deer Cowries, Bleeding Tooth, and Tulip snails. Under every rock there'd usually be several brittle stars, and sea stars, sea cucumbers and many other invertebrates that were numerous in the shallows. One of our favorite adventures was to explore the flats at the low spring tides. Living this lifestyle, I always dreamed of working some day with native wild life or as a marine biologist.
Taking some advice which discouraged that type of career path, I went away to school, where I studied and graduated, working towards a law degree. I quickly realized after starting law school, that it wasn't for me, and so I went to work in various jobs and lost focus on the career I'd always desired.
By then, the Keys had rapidly changed - and not for the better. I was appalled at the conditions of our islands after only a decade or so. The clear waters and abundant animals and plants I had taken for granted were gone, or with only a vestige remaining of what they were. Suddenly, it seemed, those quiet days and evenings - sometimes hearing only the hum of mosquitoes, and a languid US1 transecting the islands - were replaced by bustling development; suddenly more houses, people, and shopping plazas were everywhere.
It was soon after my son (his name is Buck Wiseman and he is now a new Professional Architectural Engineer in Key Largo!) left for college, that I began to notice different organizations and agencies working to help protect, repair and restore this wondrous, unique and complex ecosystem of the Everglades, Florida Bay, and our coral reefs. These components are intertwined and equally dependent on all parts to function as they have for 10,000 years. 
In March of 2005, over a hundred Rough-toothed dolphins became stranded on flats near Marathon. This event was the catalyst to propel me to step up, to become proactive and begin working to assist our ailing habitats and wildlife. After a few years and many learning experiences later while volunteering to help distressed whales and dolphins at the Marine Mammal Conservancy, a day came that a rare, live, stranded, but elderly, beaked whale died in my arms. I decided that day that I must return to school so I could better understand biological processes and the wildlife sciences in this incredible ecosystem. So I did.

I wanted to make a difference and be effective on a larger scale, as I learned that all habitats and animals are part of a web that is so complex we may never discover all of its workings, so I added more organizations where I volunteered. I rescued birds and assisted staff at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Sanctuary hospital. I applied and currently serve as an alternate on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council to act as a liaison between the Sanctuary staff and citizens of the upper Keys. Lately - with my degree almost complete - I help out at Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge assisting with crocodile nest monitoring, exotic plant removal, building Key Largo Woodrat nests or whatever is needed. I also work with Save a Turtle to help with sea turtle nest monitoring and documenting stranded sea turtles for FWC, at Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), and with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF). I find myself working in all parts of our ecosystem - unable to separate out one particular component, perhaps similarly to how this system naturally operates.
If I had to choose the volunteer work closest to my heart, however, it would be when I helped out with the Audubon Everglades Science Center in Tavernier's Roseate Spoonbill and other wading birds nest monitoring in Florida Bay. Working from boats out in the backcountry and in the Everglades National Park brought recollections of the happiest of childhood memories lived in that peaceful place of many little islands, stunning sunsets and statuesque egrets and herons.
It's never too late - and dreams do come true! I work now as a seasonal field ecologist at the Science Center assessing populations of wading birds, and especially the Spoonbills, who are dependent and bound to the natural cyclical flow of fresh water into the Bay from the Everglades. These pink beauties serve as indicators regarding the health and any recovery of Florida Bay. I am fortunate to be sharing this important work with an unassuming group of dedicated biologists who are out there almost every day to keep check on the pulse of the Bay: its salinity, sea grasses and density of small prey fishes. This organization has done so since the 1930's, and our data is likely critical to detecting any successes from Everglades hydrologic restoration. Also I have seasonal employment as a biological scientist to survey for special species in Wildlife Environmental Areas found from Key Largo to Sugarloaf for the FWC, and I guide kayak Eco tours for Florida Bay Outfitters in Key Largo.
The Florida Keys are unique and blessed, as well, with local communities of generous, caring, and hard working families. Sometimes they are hard to spot - buried under the droves of guests visiting the Keys - but if you find yourself ever in need, they are the first to be there for you, giving what they can. You can count on that. Their kindnesses have helped to make this a wonderful place to grow up. Indeed our humans are as precious a resource as our animals, plants, and waters!
How lucky are we who live in this majestic group of islands with gorgeous sunrises, sunsets, and sea breezes, surrounded by life giving waters for many creatures and by the local folks who care for each other and for our Florida Keys!”