For more than two decades, the Science and Environment Council – a not-for-profit consortium of 43 science-based environmental and government organizations in Sarasota and Manatee counties – has convened discussions, informed policy, and enhanced public awareness about conservation and sustainable practices to protect and restore the natural environment.
In early December, the SEC – in partnership with UF/IFAS Extension & Sustainability – presented the largest environmental event series ever produced on the Suncoast, designed to inspire the community to connect on environmental issues and engage in sustainable practices in their homes and businesses.
The EcoSummit on Dec. 5-6 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall featured solutions-oriented lectures, panel discussions, storytelling, and music. Dozens of national, regional, and local experts shared insights and future-forward solutions for recharging the environment and reducing human impacts.
“By working together to educate and activate the community, our hope is to bolster efforts to conserve and restore our treasured natural resources and protect quality of life for generations to come,” said Dr. Jennifer Shafer, SEC’s co-executive director. “We are thrilled at the success of the week’s events, are grateful to our sponsors and event attendees for their support and interest.”
Expert speakers and panel discussions included topics such as “Growth and Balance,” “Land, Legacy and Special Places,” “It’s All About Clean Water,” “Making a Place for Nature at Home,” “Billion Dollar Bays,” and “When Pollution is Personal: Don’t Let Waste Go to Waste and Shrink Your Energy Footprint.”
The EcoSummit kicked off Dec. 4 at The Bay Park Nest with a free outdoor screening of the film “2040” with the film’s creator, award-winning Australian documentary filmmaker and EcoSummit keynote speaker Damon Gameau. “Florida Stories with Carl Hiaasen” highlighted Dec. 5 and included award-winning journalist Craig Pittman and Randy Wells of the Sarasota Dolphin Research program. Nearly 1,200 filled the Van Wezel auditorium.
A Green Living Expo also was held on Dec. 2-3 at Robarts Arena, highlighted solutions for energy conservation, waste reduction, water protection, local food, and nature conservation. Other events included Ever-GREEN Days at The Bay Sarasota with a weeklong schedule of interactive and eco-friendly experiences such as guided tours and hands-on eco-education.
The presenting sponsor was the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. Other sponsors included Elizabeth Moore; the Gulf Coast Community Foundation; and city of Sarasota.
To learn more about the Science and Environment Council, visit scienceandenvironment.org.
Submitted by Sharon Kunkel