Sarasota Bay Watch recently received two grants that could propel the organization to a new level. The group received $20,000 from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s BOOST initiative fund and $4,000 from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County Pitching for Projects fund for the 2011 Monofilament Cleanup.
According to Sarasota Bay Watch founder and board member Rusty Chinnis, with the $20,000 and hoping for an additional $25,000 in donations from the community, the all-volunteer group could hire a paid executive director to focus on recruiting and retaining members, grant writing and broadening the scope of its activities.
“A paid director would allow us to improve our organizational capacity,” Chinnis said.
Also, the group hopes to raise an additional $2,500 to cover costs for the 2011 Monofilament Cleanup, in which volunteers gather along shorelines to remove monofilament fishing lines and hooks that can be deadly to seabirds.
Since its founding, Sarasota Bay Watch has held multiple events that have reached capacity, including this year’s Sarasota Bay Scallop Search, in which volunteers helped researchers monitor the local scallop population, and the Sister Keys Cleanup, in which more than 80 volunteers collected more than a ton of trash from the mangrove islands.
Chinnis said Sarasota Bay Watch has been successful in spreading its message since it was founded three years ago.
“We’ve built a consensus in the community about the importance of protecting the community and habitat of Sarasota Bay,” Chinnis said. “Every business that surrounds the bay is supported by the bay, whether you’re a developer, real-estate agent, fisherman or a restaurant owner.”
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