In the midst of their 60th anniversary and the undertaking of a corresponding fundraiser called “Oceans of Opportunity,” Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium grieves for a special member of its family: the famous “Shark Lady” Eugenie Clark, founder of Mote, who passed away last Wednesday at age 92. Despite this loss, Mote carries on strong with its active and impressive agenda.
Clark was an extraordinary woman. A dedicated and innovative marine scientist, she was the author of best-sellers as well as hundreds of scientific papers and the leader of many advanced scuba dives. On her last birthday, turning 91, Clark naturally went scuba diving. Strong and involved with Mote to the end, Clark lived to see the 60th anniversary and celebration of her lab. The president and CEO of Mote, Michael Crosby, announced plans for a Eugenie Clark Day of Celebration in the near future.
On Thursday, Jan. 22, Mote started their 60th anniversary with a celebration and announcement of a prestigious new $50 million fundraising campaign focused on expanding the lab’s impact on marine education. The campaign reveals a vital moment for the Mote’s science and education goals and can only clear the way for more endeavors and result in remarkable effects on the local community and even the world.
“Whether Mote is monitoring for red tide, rescuing endangered animals, assessing the health of our marine ecosystems or reaching out to school children across the U.S., the missions of Mote serve us all,” Judy Graham, a Mote trustee and 60th anniversary chair, said to Mote.org. “Mote and the community support each other – that is what Oceans of Opportunity is all about,” she added.
Looking back from 1955, when Clark began Mote Marine as a one-room lab, all the way to the beginning of this prosperous year for Mote, the sheer growth and development of the nonprofit organization is inspiring. “Oceans of Opportunity” aims to fire this growth forward and, with the funding, achieve their vision for expansion in the lab’s directing blueprint, the 2020 Vision and Strategic plan.
This plan includes goals such as adding more Ph.D. scientists to the team of now 35, employing more staff, sustaining the lab’s group of 1,600 volunteers, and increasing its annual economic impact in Florida from $86.8 million to $145.801 million.
Mote hopes to expand its local and global science to support sustainable use of marine resources and develop its research enterprise. As of January, the community has already donated generously and helped the campaign reach $30 million of its goal.
In addition to this fruitful fundraiser, Mote has partnered up with Positive Tracks, a national and youth-centric nonprofit, to create a $37,000 youth fundraising challenge that leads up to the 29th Annual Run for the Turtles 5K.
“We are looking for runners for our event, especially runners under 23 years old because every dollar raised by participants under 23 is doubled by Positive Tracks,” Chris Pfahler, Positive Tracks coordinator for Mote, said. “Runners can register and create teams on www.active.com.”
The partnership encourages the youth of southwest Florida to give back to the ocean and learn about Mote’s research and programs. All proceeds will be donated to Mote’s sea turtle conservation and research efforts in Sarasota.
This fundraiser allows for all kinds of creative ideas for raising money and leading to experiencing philanthropy firsthand. While a partaker can ask individuals or businesses to support them as runners, inventing new ways of fundraising is supported as well. Either way, every dollar raised by participants under 23 is matched by Positive Tracks.
Pfahler’s son raised money for the cause through Pogoing for Pennies and exceeded his goal of $200. Other ideas for funding could include bake sales, art shows, dance competitions or even dodge-ball play-offs. The fundraiser culminates April 4 with the 5K run for Turtles so Positive Tracks and Mote encourage getting started on fundraising ideas as soon as possible.