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jeanne jones award 250Jeanne and Morris Jones first got to know Rookery Bay in 1999 by volunteering at the Briggs Nature Center, which was the original nature center for Rookery Bay and operated by the Conservancy of SW Florida. The center was named for Dr. Briggs, of Briggs & Stratton, who wanted to help people appreciate southwest Florida nature. Both Jeanne and Morris volunteered at that welcome desk, helped sell tickets to the Sea Queen (later replaced by the Good Fortune) and also did handiwork around the Briggs center whenever needed. After the Briggs center closed in 2003, Jeanne and Morris began volunteering at Rookery Bay before the Environmental Learning Center was even open. They helped out administrative staff at the headquarters building and watched as the ELC was being built. Their first job was shredding volumes of old documents. 

When the ELC finally opened in 2004, Jeanne said that she and Morris helped with “everything!” She worked at the front desk, provided guided tours of our new exhibit hall and helpted with Nature Store inventory. Morris assisted with any and all paperwork and organization needed for Project Greenscape, and also helped Beverly with her avian record keeping. As the number of staff projects was slowly increasing, Morris and Jeanne were filling in wherever needed.

Both Morris and Jeanne had careers in Education in the state of Maryland. Morris began as a Civics teacher and went on to become a Principal at the young age of 25. He later become the Field Rep for the Maryland State Teachers Association in which Jeanne was also active. Jeanne taught 3rd grade for 30 years. Even after Morris passed away in 2015, Jeanne continued to support Rookery Bay through volunteering. She spends much of her time now in visitor services as a greeter and exhibit interpreter. She also helps Project Greenscape, provides administrative assistance to the Volunteer Coordinator and also helps with special events.

Jeanne has donated more than 2,000 hours. Thank you, Jeanne, for your dedication!

Sue Miller is the latest recipient of our “1,000-hour Milestone” award. Born and raised in Iowa, Sue was a teacher in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Northern Kentucky before retiring in 2012. She started volunteering with Rookery Bay in 2013, helping out with events at the Environmental Learning Center. Since then, she has become instrumental to many of our field operations, donating time to our Team OCEAN program, sea turtle monitoring and fish research.

Sue enjoys and appreciates the time she spends with us. She loves volunteering and working with Reserve staff and fellow volunteers.

“As I tell everyone who will listen, Rookery Bay has given me a retirement beyond my wildest dreams! I am so grateful,” Sue says.

Sue Miller trawlingSue says that every time out in a Reserve boat is a new adventure – it is always fun and often physically demanding. Being out on the water is a feast for the eyes and heart. There isn’t a more beautiful place than Research Reserve and the Ten Thousand Islands - the clouds, water, vegetation, birds, water animals... Oh my!

According to Sue, trawling is always exciting because you never know what you will catch, but you can depend on seeing something you have never seen before and learning something new!

“My favorite catch is stingrays,” she said. “My deepest thanks, Rookery Bay, for being such a blessing in my life.”

Thank you, Sue Miller, for being such a blessing in ours.

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Team OCEAN is a boat-based volunteer program at Rookery Bay Research Reserve that was established in 2006 following a model at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Team OCEAN (Ocean Conservation Education Action Network) volunteers make weekly visits to high-use areas in the Reserve providing information, helping to ensure that their fellow boaters are being responsible, and setting a good example. These ambassadors of our shores share information on "Leave-No-Trace" practices, boating safety, fisheries conservation and marine recreation in effort to help keep Rookery Bay a pristine wilderness experience.

team ocean hat 250

Team OCEAN helps protect birds and other wildlife by educating boating visitors. They also help with sign posting and maintaining crossover trails as well as "Important Nesting Area" signs that alert visitors of the presence of beach-nesting birds.

Team OCEAN also reaches out to the community by participating in and having a presence at local boating shows and nature or environmental festivals.

Volunteers should be prepared to spend several hours outside in varying weather conditions, including hot sun, often working independently of Rookery Bay staff. They should, therefore, be reasonably fit and highly reliable and responsible.

Special Requirements:

  • To become a Team Ocean volunteer, individuals must complete the following steps:
  • Pass an interview with the program coordinator, become certified in CPR, take and pass the TO test
  • Accompany the program coordinator, other staff, and experienced volunteers to receive on-the-job training.
  • Spend additional time familiarizing themselves with Rookery Bay Reserve, coastal environments, and Keewaydin Island.
  • For volunteers wishing to operate boats, additional training and demonstration of skills to Rookery Bay staff is required.

Description of Duties:

  • Represent Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve to the publictalking to people 250
  • Understand the purpose, general history, and core activities of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • Access areas within Rookery Bay Reserve via boat and on foot
  • Greet visitors and inform them that they are in Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • Provide friendly information about best practices while boating and beach going (fishing, pets, wildlife disturbance, litter and other Leave No Trace principles), including answering questions and informing visitors of rules that apply
  • Serve as a steward of the Reserve:
    • Pick up litter ranging from mostly small items to larger marine debris and dispose of in proper receptacles (trash and recycling)
    • Repair nesting bird postings (April-August) and maintain crossover walks on Keewaydin Island
  • Record and report information to assist staff in proper management of Rookery Bay Reserve (i.e. activity data sheets, anecdotal observations). Specific information to be collected will be provided by Program Coordinator.
  • Follow proper procedures for safe operation and use of Rookery Bay's boats, facilities, and equipment.

Knowledge/Skills/Experience Desired:

  • Knowledge of Rookery Bay Reserve natural history and local issues
  • Friendly attitude and strong oral communication skills for engaging visitors in conversation, answering questions, and offering information
  • Experience operating boats (for those wishing to be boat operators)
  • Completion of training requirements as outlined

Volunteer to Join TEAM Ocean

Prior to acceptance and placement as a volunteer, applicants to Volunteer Services are required to follow the application process. Volunteer Orientation is conducted on an as needed basis. Please review our handbook to ensure you are familiar with what will be expected of you should you be enlisted as a volunteer in our program.

View Rookery Bay Research Reserve Volunteer Handbook (2018)

trawl volunteersHelp our fisheries biologist collect samples with a trawl net each month in Naples Bay, Rookery Bay or the Ten Thousand Islands. Volunteers will help sort, identify, count and measure relevant fish and shellfish before returning them to the estuary.
Interested persons are expected to complete a volunteer application and attend a new volunteer orientation. Entering volunteer hours is required as per instructions from the Volunteer Coordinator. Once this is completed you will be placed on the fisheries research volunteer list and will receive emails with available dates that are set months in advance. Volunteers must respond to requests for assistance quickly in order to secure a seat on the boat.
• Volunteers will receive training on safe handling of the net, proper handling of fish and crabs and identification.
• Volunteers must be prepared to spend up to eight hours on the boat: come dressed for field work with non-slip, closed-toed shoes to protect feet from heavy gear and supply their own food and water.
• Volunteers will work hard while surrounded by natural beauty and sometimes mosquitoes.Volunteers will learn about fish and invertebrates, including many that are important to the local economy, and how they are affected by altered freshwater flows across the landscape. Learn more about this assessment program.

  • All potential speaking engagements must be reviewed by staff and assigned to the appropriate outreach volunteer
  • Any invitations to give a presentation relating to RB must be forwarded to Jeannine for approval before committing to the date
  • Once a volunteer is assigned a speaking engagement they will be required to provide the pre-approved presentation and appropriate outreach materials
  • Volunteers may use RB educational materials or artifacts only when they have been assigned to do so
  • Volunteers must wear RB logo shirt and nametag when they have been assigned to provide an outreach program
  • Volunteers may not represent RB or wear the RB logo at a public event unless they have been asked to do so
  • Volunteers must make it clear that they are a Volunteer when representing RB in person or in print/on social media, i.e. “I am a Volunteer Manatee Education Specialist at Rookery Bay…”

Who is responsible for talking with the media?

The DEP press office and designated communication liaisons in the FCO Tallahassee and regional offices, such as Rookery Bay Research Reserve (RB), are responsible for talking with the media. All media inquiries should be sent to your communications liaison, who will then work through their appropriate procedures.

If a reporter contacts you

If a reporter contacts you about work taking place at RB or by RB staff, please refer them to RB's designated regional communications liaison.

  • If a reporter contacts you while you are in the field, rather than say that you are not allowed to talk to the media, you can explain to them what you are working on (collecting samples, conducting an inspection, etc.). Let them know that you need to get back to the job at hand, but your designated communications liaison will be able to answer any questions or gather any additional information need for their story.

Who responds to media inquiries?

Only a member of the press office or designated communication liaison will respond to a reporter's inquiry directly, unless it is a feature story about the Volunteer's efforts. When the press office or designated communication liaison facilitates interaction with the media to address the topic, a person from a division or program may be asked to respond to specific media inquiries or participate in an interview.

Speaking in public

DEP staff at RB are contacted regularly to speak at various organization's events and meetings. All speaking requests and PowerPoint presentations must be approved in advance by the designated communication liaisons, and the press office and FCO regional administrators must be email copied or informed. As an employee or volunteer speaking in public representing DEP, please note that many of these meetings may be recorded and therefore, there is no expectation of privacy with regard to the statements made or materials presented.

Remember, whether you are a DEP/RB employee or volunteer, always be media aware as you are representing the DEP and DEP position on any given issue. It is important to always be conscious of whom you are speaking to, what you are speaking about, recognize if you are the most appropriate person/office to address the topic and how that information is being relayed/perceived. When in doubt, always refer to your communication liaison or the press office.

Bob & Dorothy Wickline Bob and Dorothy Wickline have been volunteers at Rookery Bay since January, 2010 and together have donated well more than 1,000 hours to Rookery Bay Reserve.

Originally from Centerville, Ohio (near Dayton), both Bob and Dorothy retired from National City Bank, now PNC, after 40 years of service. Dorothy was a Vice President, heading up the Servicing Information Systems Department of the Mortgage Company, the sixth largest mortgage company in the United States. Bob was a Senior Vice President with corporate responsibility for all mortgage information systems both in the National City banks and the Mortgage Company. This included the management of 150 professionals and an annual budget of over $20 million.

bob wickline

They spend their summer months in Centerville, where they volunteer at a large theater association of four theaters. They started a docent program to show their theaters to the public, and received one of the top team captain’s awards twice, and were recently honored by being named team captains of a group of 70 volunteers. Together they have volunteered over 2,500 hours of service to the theater association.

Bob also volunteers at a local (Ohio) TV station doing camera and audio work at holiday parades and special events. He has received two regional Philo Awards for his work in producing documentaries to be shown on TV.

Bob Wickline

Since joining the Rookery Bay team, the Wickline “dynamic duo” has been instrumental in helping the Friends of Rookery Bay with many aspects of the Batfish Bash for the Bay and other special events. They have been especialy helpful with photography and video production. Bob’s productions have also been very helpful in the training of our docents and other volunteers. Bob has also spent many, many hours helping the facilities department as a member of the “Rusty Zipper” clan.

We cannot thank Bob and Dorothy enough for their continued dedication and willingness to fit us in around their busy line-dancing and pub-crawling schedule.


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