"It was science nerd love at first sight," when Jeffrey Driver met Terri Scott.
Fast forward to Nov. 25 of this year, and the Drivers will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. They both thank Lasik surgery that they won't be wearing matching Coke bottle glasses like the day they met.
"We were working in a laboratory. I remember it very well,” Jeffrey said.
Two proverbial peas in a pod, their shared interests and nerd love has blossomed over three decades and can be seen all over Longboat Key. Whether patrolling for turtles or rallying for Rotary, the Drivers are side by side.
The couple became full-time Longboaters 11 years ago after buying a condominium in the Banyan Bay Club. Before then, they were annual tourists from Virginia to visit Terri’s parents in Bradenton.
They’d stay longer each year at the Beach Castle Resort until a one-week vacation turned into a monthlong stay. During that time, they became informally involved with the Longboat Key Turtle Watch.
“We’d go for a run up and down the beach, we’d see Mike and Melissa (Herron) out there, and we’d be running and picking up trash,” Terri said. At the time, she didn’t know what a false crawl was, but she’d ask Mike how the turtles were doing and he’d take the trash they collected.
Then one day, they came across members of LBKTW trying to shoo away a flock of birds that were aggressively trying to feed on a batch of hatchlings. When asked to help, neither hesitated.
“We were running around like maniacs going, ‘Go away birds, go away,” Terri said. Jeff laughed at the memory and called it a “turtle emergency.” They’ve both been through extensive training and have been on the official LBKTW roster for nine years now.
Recently they helped with a disorientation, which is when a turtle gets confused and mistakes artificial lighting for the moon. A little girl found the confused turtle swimming in a hot tub at the Zota Beach Resort.
LBKTW was already on the beach performing a nest excavation, so she approached Jeff and another member, Cyndi Seamon, to give them the turtle. Because it was exposed to chemicals in the hot tub, it was sent to Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. The Drivers’ three grandchildren have aptly nicknamed them Grandma and Grandpa Turtle.
Their love for fitness not only led them to turtle patrol, it led them to both become certified yoga and indoor cycling instructors. They used to teach classes at the Longboat Key Club and still teach at the GT Bray Recreation Center.
“We teach yoga classes literally side by side. It’s kind of like, you know, this comedy show. So we’ll make jokes and just carry this conversation on with students,” Jeff said. “It’s a little unconventional, and people love it. Usually, you only have one instructor. It’s like this zen thing. We’re more like Laurel and Hardy.”
The do-gooder duo can be found joking and laughing every other Tuesday at the Rotary Club, too. They’ve been members for two years, and Jeff just took on the role of president.
Recently, they brought the Rotary-style “do-goodery” home. The Banyan Bay Club is about to get a bayside makeover thanks to the Drivers securing an $8,800 grant from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.
“The idea for this is to remove invasive species and restore the entire area with native species that will help prevent runoff into the bay,” Jeff said.
He compared the project to “microforesting,” planting high-density plants to sequester carbon as a climate change strategy and to prevent water runoff. “So this is kind of that same concept. But obviously, Sarasota Bay, one of the key issues for maintaining water quality is the runoff prevention,” he said.
The Drivers will match that grant in labor. Brazilian peppers will be replaced by native red cedar trees, along with 15 species of native plants. Volunteers will help.
The couple’s shared passion for environmental protection led them to join the Green Team, an offshoot of organized north-end residents. The citizen group formed during the COVID-19 pandemic and represents hundreds of property owners on the Manatee county side of the island. Terri is the Green Team’s chair.
The Drivers attend commission meetings and offer ideas on how Longboat Key can be more environmentally responsible. Both agree the town has been receptive to most of their recommendations, but Terri joked that not all of them are hits.
“It was pretty cute because Mayor Schneier, he’s like, ‘I’m going to tell you this one’s a no right now.’”
The couple had proposed a conversion to electric landscape equipment, and the mayor amended his no with a “not right now.” He was concerned workers could be displaced due to the cost, but the town is leading by example and bought an electric blower.
This do-gooding duo doesn’t just volunteer together, they work together too. Jeff is a toxicologist; Terri is an environmental scientist. In the late 1990s, they left their steady, well-paid jobs and started consulting for themselves.
Risksciences.net, LLC took off; they now manage a network of consultants hired to assist with scientific and regulatory issues. Whether at work or play, the Drivers drive change and take every step together.