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Class project

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  • | 4:00 a.m. April 13, 2011
The newly renovated boardwalk features benches so that visitors can sit in the shade and enjoy the birds.
The newly renovated boardwalk features benches so that visitors can sit in the shade and enjoy the birds.
  • Longboat Key
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On March 16, Save Our Seabirds volunteers Judith Kleinberg and Ivan Kazen said their wedding vows at an intimate ceremony at the Save Our Seabirds sanctuary.

Such a ceremony would have been impossible five months earlier, because, until recently, the boardwalk upon which the couple and their guests stood was so deteriorated with rotted wood that it had to be roped off for safety reasons.

“With the new boardwalk, guests were able to stand in close proximity to the ceremony and take photos,” says Lee Fox, executive director of Save Our Seabirds. “It was a beautiful wedding.”

The reconstructed boardwalk is just one part of a project the Leadership Sarasota Adult Program completed over the past five months. The 35 members of the 2010-11 class have spent more than 1,000 volunteer hours rebuilding, refurbishing and bringing awareness to the mission of Save Our Seabirds.

The program, which is sponsored by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, accepts approximately 35 participants from diverse backgrounds each year with the goal of exposing community leaders to different aspects of Sarasota County and educating them about the community’s assets, opportunities and challenges.

The class project is a key component of the program and is selected by each class according to the needs of the community. Past projects have included building a children’s path at Crowley Museum and Nature Center, promoting energy-saving light bulbs and installing artwork in front of the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce building.

When 2010-11 leadership class member and project Chairman Ryan Chapdelain presented a plan to upgrade Save Our Seabirds’ facilities, the other group members unanimously agreed to the idea.

Chapdelain had been volunteering at Save Our Seabirds since the BP oil spill.

“They have a tight budget, and first and foremost the money goes to care for the birds,” says Chapdelain.

As director of the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, Jane Buckman was another member of the group who was familiar with Save Our Seabirds.

“Their work is important, not only for Longboat Key and Mote, but for the entire area,” says Buckman. “It was a wonderful project.”

The class made plans to rebuild and refurbish outdated areas of the facility and formulated a campaign to help bring visitors to the facility.

The class divided into groups based on their areas of expertise and began delving into projects, including rebuilding the boardwalk, installing new signs to increase visibility to the public, launching a new website and planting trees and plants donated by local organizations.

“They have worked so hard and crammed so much into a short amount of time,” says Fox. “Many of the projects weren’t on the original list, but as they were working they saw more things that needed to be done.”
Today, Fox says she and the rest of the staff and volunteers now receive compliments daily from visitors about how beautiful the sanctuary is.

The members of Leadership Sarasota and Save Our Seabirds will be coming together for a chamber trustee reception and project dedication event Thursday, April 14, at the sanctuary.

“The leadership group saw all of the things that needed to be done that we couldn’t do. Without their help we couldn’t have gone as far as we have,” says Fox.

After the success of the Kleinberg-Kazen wedding, the first to be held at Save Our Seabirds, the organization is generating interest from the public about hosting more weddings, birthdays and other events at the facility.

“Bringing awareness to SOS’s mission was a big part of this,” says Chapdelain. “A lot of people don’t know about SOS or they think it’s part of Mote (Marine Laboratory).”

Contact Maria Amodio at [email protected]

The 2010-2011 Leadership Sarasota Adult Program has completed the following projects at Save Our Seabirds in the past five months:

• Assisted in launching a new website, formatting newsletters and drafting press releases for the organization.

• Arranged for the installation of four new signs, including a directional road sign at New Pass Bridge, to increase visibility.

• Installed a photographic mural over the front entrance of the facility.

• Repaired the roof of the bird hospital.

• Removed and replaced the deteriorated boardwalk.

• Allocated more than 100 labor hours to landscape maintenance.

• Planted 14 large cedars, four live oaks and one red maple tree.

• Purchased 30 bird mosaics created by Oak Park School students to be placed throughout SOS grounds.

Accepting Applications
Applications for the 2011-2012 Leadership Sarasota Adult Program are now available. The program is designed to further enhance and educate business and community leaders about all aspects of Sarasota County. Applications must be submitted by June 3. For applications, visit


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