Just south of Historic Spanish Point sits one of Sarasota’s best-kept secrets: Bay Preserve at Osprey. The property is home to the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, and it is one of the most beautiful bay access points in the county. However, people often don’t realize the park, which is tucked away off of U.S. 41, is open to the public.
Suzanne Gregory, the organization’s director of programs and marketing, hopes a new volunteer docent program will help clear up the confusion and encourage more people to get involved.
“When people come here for the first time, they’re not really sure if this is a private home down by the water or if they’re even allowed to be around here,” she says. “We’re working to create a docent program and have volunteers there to welcome people to the site, let people know they can launch a canoe or kayak here and invite them to historic home and gallery space. We want a point of entry so people know this is a place they can come to learn about our mission of land preservation and water conservation.”
The Conservation Foundation was founded 10 years ago to protect and preserve the character and biodiversity of the coastal regions. It is a nationally accredited land trust, which serves Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and Lee counties.
“We want to protect the habitat, not just for wildlife and plants, but for people, too,” says Gregory. “We’re losing access to waterfront and to these natural habitat areas. Once they’re gone, you really can’t reclaim them, so we try to be very proactive and very specific about how we do our work.”
Gregory says the simplicity and beauty of the organization’s mission is what appeals to her most and that if people share that passion, volunteering as a docent is a great first opportunity to get involved.
“If people care about land and nature, this is a good place to start,” she says. “Having a volunteer docent program seems like a small thing, but it’s so critical. It’s the first way somebody meets and learns about our organization. So an enthusiastic volunteer who can bubble up because they’re excited to be doing something to help save land is just enormous.”
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