IRL Community Engagement Coordinator, Jessy Wayles, sits down with Brevard Zoo Conservation Manager Olivia Escandell and Marine Discovery Center Conservation Science Coordinator Tess Sailor-Tynes to chat about historic funding in support of the Indian River Lagoon. They both have many exciting projects underway such as seagrass restoration, building seagrass nurseries, shuck & share oyster and clam programs, and more. They dive into the details and explain how community collaboration and volunteer programs have had an impactful effect on seagrass restoration in the IRL.

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[Audio transcription via]

Episode Speakers:

Jessy Wayles, Community Engagement Coordinator, IRL National Estuary Program

Olivia Escandell, Conservation Manager, Brevard Zoo 

Tess Sailor-Tynes, Conservation Science Coordinator, Marine Discovery Center


Duane DeFreese: Hi, I am Duane DeFreese, executive director of the IRL Council and the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. Welcome to our One Lagoon, One Voice podcast. 

Each week, myself or one of my staff members will host leaders in the community, scientists along the lagoon, people who know a lot about the system, to talk about some of the problems, and most importantly, some of the solutions to solve the Indian River Lagoon’s health and make sure it’s great for future generations. 

If you enjoy hearing us talk about the Lagoon, like and subscribe to this podcast. So, let’s get the show started, and let’s talk a little lagoon.

Jessy Wayles: Hey there, and welcome to One Lagoon One Voice. I’m Jessy Wayles, Community Engagement Coordinator for the India River Lagoon National Estuary Program, and I’ll be hosting today’s podcast. Today we are here to talk about some historic funding that the IRL has received to start seagrass nurseries and expand seagrass nurseries in the area. So to chat about that, I have Tess Sailor-Tynes from the Marine Discovery Center. Welcome, Tess.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Hello. Thank you so much for having me.

Jessy Wayles: And I have Olivia Escandell with Brevard Zoo. Welcome Olivia.

Olivia Escandell: Hi Jessy. So excited to be here.

Jessy Wayles: So I have been so excited to do this podcast with you guys. Not only because we’re talking about seagrass, which is such a cool topic, but also because we are friends outside of work. Most notably I would think it would have to be the Restore America’s Estuaries Symposium that we attended in New Orleans last year. Where we all did this wonderful presentation on the Indian River Lagoon and had some fun drinks and food afterwards.

Olivia Escandell: Went to New Orleans.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Yes, I was going to say I remember celebrating with beignets after our presentation.

Jessy Wayles: Yes. Oh my gosh. So wholesome and so fun. All right ladies, so let’s go ahead and get into it. So Olivia, can you tell us a little bit about Brevard Zoo and the work that you’re doing there?

Olivia Escandell: So Brevard Zoo is a nonprofit zoo here in Brevard County, Florida. A lot of zoos are tied to recurring funding from different counties or states or cities. And the Brevard Zoo is part of a special group of zoos that are really on our own, we’re our own nonprofit, so we do receive grants for specific projects, but for the most part we’re supported by our donors and our guests to the zoo. 

So coming to visit the zoo is really important and our mission is to share our joy of nature to help wildlife and people thrive. So we’re not only concerned with making happy lives for the animals that are in our zoo, but also for the animals and people outside of the zoo. And that’s really where our work on the Indian River Lagoon comes into play. So I work in our conservation department. I’m a conservation manager at the Brevard Zoo, so I have the really, really fun job of getting to work with both the people and the wildlife in the Indian River Lagoon.

Jessy Wayles: Awesome. And that’s through the Restore Our Shores program, correct?

Olivia Escandell: Yes. So I manage the Restore Our Shores program, which is all of our Indian River Lagoon habitat restoration projects. So oysters, clams, seagrass, and mangroves and other living shoreline species as well.

Jessy Wayles: And what about you, Tess?

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Yeah, so I’m the conservation science coordinator up at the Marine Discovery Center. We’re kind of in the northernmost reach of the lagoon in New Smyrna Beach, also known as the shark bite capital of the world. But we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We were established back in 1997. And we’ve kind of held the same mission throughout the years, which is education, restoration and conservation throughout the Indian River Lagoon, but really involving the community. So we focus heavily on those education programs through Hands-on Feet Wet programming, really allowing people to have a direct relationship and a direct contact with the lagoon. 

And then of course, the restoration and conservation side of things are kind of what I focus on, which is it kind of mirrors a lot of what Olivia did say earlier in terms of a regional sense. So the oysters and the living shoreline projects. And then we also focus on exploration in our programming. So we allow members of the public or even tourists to come in and really experience what the lagoon has to offer.

Jessy Wayles: Love that. And I have the honor of working with both of your nonprofits and some of your most recent projects. And I have to say it is so much fun being out in the field with you guys. Always a bunch of laughs, always good snacks. So let’s dive into this funding. So last fiscal year, the India River Lagoon National Estuary Program received funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Act. So what that means is that we received funding to create this seagrass network, we’re calling it. It’s a collaborative network with partners.

Now each one year nonprofits applied for a request for collaboration with us and received funding, which is fantastic. So these funds are going to provide seed money to start or expand nurseries. Now neither of you guys, to my knowledge, have a seagrass nursery on site. So you’re going to be using this fund for the next five years, I believe, right? It’s 2022 to 2026 worth of funding to kind of start from the ground up, creating this seagrass nursery, finding seagrass to grow in it, growing it out, and then transplanting it into the lagoon. 

So can you tell me a little bit about what you guys are going to be doing with those funds? What have you started so far? What is your plan for the next five years? Imagine you’re in a job interview, where do you see yourself five years from now? Tess, go ahead.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Yeah, so as I mentioned, we’ve kind of been focused at MDC on our Shuck and Share program, our citizen science work and our restoration work. And so yeah, we are kind of babies to the field of seagrass restoration. But one thing that is wonderful is that collaborative effort that we have kind of lifting us up. And so these funds are really supporting. In the first couple of years it’s going to be focusing on the construction efforts of getting that nursery literally up and running. From there, we’ll look to our different restoration partners. We’re mainly working with the University of Central Florida. We have University of Florida Premier Seafood Incorporated that are all kind of helping behind this effort, as well as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to kind of understand what the regional needs are so that we can apply our practices accordingly.

So the years after the kind of growing out process, and once we understand what’s needed, we’ll then start to apply that in the field and deploy those materials. One thing that’s really interesting about what we’re doing, and I think a lot of people are catching onto this as well, is we’re going to be focusing on a co-restoration effort. 

So not only are we working with the Shuck and Share oyster materials, but we’re also going to be growing out clams in our nursery. That’s going to help primarily with the filtration process of the lagoon water that’s coming into the tanks, which will help foster that healthy water system for the seagrasses, which will then be, like I said, deployed at a later date. And so I think this restoration will be really interesting. We’re also working with a bivalve that we’re not as familiar with. And so we’ll get to see those baby clams from start to finish going out to the lagoon, which is really exciting. I’m super excited for it.

Jessy Wayles: Now, I may have some insider knowledge on this, but I do want to ask. So this nursery is not just going to be clams and seagrasses, you guys are working this into some sort of water feature.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Right.

Jessy Wayles: Do you want to expand on that at all?

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Yes. Speaking of expansion, so as we were kind of dreaming out what the seagrass nursery infrastructure was going to look like, we realized that we have a ton of water coming out of those systems each hour and especially each day. And so we recognized where we were placing this infrastructure on our property, there was a really good opportunity with a kind of lower lying area to have the effluent of the tanks flowing into that area. 

The water will of course be filtered by both of the species in the tanks, and then we have the opportunity to create this habitat extension of a saltwater feature, which can be anything from the expansion of restoration materials like grasses and mangroves, all the way to featuring some of our sport fish that we find a high economic value with in the lagoon.

Jessy Wayles: So Olivia, can you tell us a little bit about what you’re going to be using those funds for?

Olivia Escandell: Yeah, so similarly to Marine Discovery Center, we’re really in our infancy or baby stage of working with seagrass. We worked on a couple really, really small projects prior to 2020, planting seagrass with different partners and monitoring those with volunteers. But we were really scared to dive into seagrass because seagrass is a little scary when you’ve been working only with oysters or only with mangroves for a long time. But we are really excited to be a part of this network and collaborating with so many other partners on this project. 

So right before the request for this collaboration came out, we actually had applied for another funding opportunity with Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program to build a seagrass nursery at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in Melbourne Beach. So that’s an ongoing project that we’re really just wrapping up and that’ll be our very first seagrass nursery.

So this funding will kind of help support that nursery, but it didn’t actually help build it. That funding came through a separate funding pot through the National Estuary Program. But with this funding, we’re starting to build a second smaller nursery at a property just across from Rockledge Gardens, if you’re familiar with the area. And then we have plans for a third smaller nursery, hopefully at our Restore Our Shores hub conservation forever home.

If you are from Brevard County, you probably know that the Brevard Zoo is building an aquarium at Port Canaveral. So the aquarium project is on the horizon, and our team actually works offsite from the zoo, because we’re really more closely related to the aquarium and kind of work going on in the lagoon. So we need a lot of space to get our work done. So we’ll be building an office and we’re hoping to have a third nursery at that site as well. So already looking and thinking on the horizon, as we see shoal grass come back, that pioneer species, we maybe need to start focusing on some of the other kind of top tier species like syringodium or manatee grass. Yeah. So that’s what we have going on.

Jessy Wayles: I love it. There’s so much. So it’s great to hear that the new aquarium’s going to be up and coming soon, fingers crossed. And that you’ll be able to show some seagrass at that site as well.

Olivia Escandell: Yeah. So we’re hoping to have a small kind of exhibit seagrass nursery there so people can see what seagrass looks like and maybe we’ll even be able to harvest and plant out from there too.

Jessy Wayles: So can you tell me a little bit about what are some of the goals that you guys have with this seagrass restoration? Are you hoping to collect fragments and plant them in the nursery and grow them out? Are you planning on getting grasses from our partners? Will you be using partners to help you plant them? Volunteers? What are your plans for the future?

Tess Sailor-Tynes: I’ll start. That’s a really good question, and a lot of the same questions the public has for us as well, and we have for ourselves, I would say. Because just like any other science, the knowledge around the topic is ever evolving. And so best practices also change with that evolution. But for the most part, we see a lot of our partners that have success in getting fragments, which yeah, we plan on using the community efforts that support our mission and those partners or the members of the public to get involved in that process. We don’t know quite what that looks like yet, because we’re just focused on conservation right now. But like I said, with all of the partners around us, we can kind of look at those best practices and kind of mirror what they’re doing all the way out to the growing and the transplanting process as well.

We’re hoping to involve the community in those efforts because we understand that with more knowledge comes more care for the environment around us. And so the more that we can get people involved in our efforts, the better off those projects are going to be. We understand that this is a super dynamic system, and through this co restoration, we’re hoping that we can kind of lift up the success of all the species and all the populations in this region so that they can be self-sustaining down the road. So hopefully with both the human and the ecosystem efforts, we can achieve that mission.

Olivia Escandell: Yeah, so we are hoping to work with them, we already have been working with the community on these projects. So a lot of the build down at Hubbs-SeaWorld was supported by different volunteers, so a lot of volunteer workdays down there. And then we also have started our very first planting projects this year. So that was part of a donor funded project that paired really nicely with our very first seagrass nursery at Hubbs-SeaWorld. And we purchased grass from one of our partners, Florida Oceanographic Society in this network because our nursery wasn’t up and running yet. So we were able to use seagrass from a partner for all of those projects, and we had volunteers helping us along the way. And they’ve also been assisting us with our monitoring efforts of those projects. We’re hoping that future years really go similarly. So this first year of plantings, we planted at 17 different sites throughout Brevard County, which is a lot of sites, but again, Brevard is really, really big.

So our first goal was really to start to try and nail down some of those site selection criteria. Where is water quality ready for seagrass restoration in parts of the Brevard County portion of the lagoon? And water quality can change a lot, as Tess said, a very dynamic system. So the conditions we are experiencing this year may be different from future years and years we’ve had in the past, but really we’re already seeing and learning a lot of things with these smaller projects about the impacts of predation on the plantings and then other submersed aquatic vegetation like algae species, caulerpa, drift algae, and how that impacts the projects.

So to answer your question, Jessy, we are in this first couple of years trying to learn more and more about where we can expand those restoration projects. So where can we start to put the grass that we’re growing in the nursery to work and hopefully do these bigger, not huge, but bigger restoration projects that can accelerate recovery for seagrass. And like I mentioned earlier, potentially moving into different species of seagrass as hopefully we start to see more and more grass come back.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: I think another thing, if I might piggyback on that, and it’s a question that we practitioners have been asking ourselves and we’ve received these questions from the public, is about the harvesting and sourcing of those original seagrass fragments. And so a lot of the times we’ve had a great seagrass season, but like Olivia said, are we going to be able to see that success carry through to the next season? And so where would that harvesting come from, from a scientific level, what would that genetic makeup look like and how is the genetic makeup going to change those decisions that we make based on the sites that we choose? 

And so we have all these question marks that are floating up in the air, which is something that somebody could easily be intimidated by, but the fact that we do have this seagrass nursery network behind us creates this really collaborative effort in sharing the knowledge and kind of the wisdom bank that we all have. And so it’s a generally intimidating question, but we know that we’ll get those answers as the practices go on.

Jessy Wayles: All right, so I think what’s really cool about chatting with you guys today is that you both run very prominent restoration departments within your region, with Tess running it up in Mosquito Lagoon. Olivia, you’re running yours down in Banana River, Northern Mosquito, Northern Indian River Lagoon, excuse me. Can you tell me a little bit about your individual programs and how you guys are positively impacting the lagoon? So I know that you are both very active in Living Shorelines. You both run chapters of the Shuck and Share Oyster Recycling Program. You’re testing out these novel materials for restoration that are using non-plastic alternatives as we call them. So what are some of the cool projects that you guys are working on right now that are positively impacting the lagoon? And Tess, we’ll go ahead and start with you.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Yeah, I’m going to be a mush and say that I love everything that I get to do, because it comes with its challenges. But with its challenges, once again, I’m going to go back to the fact that we’re working with all of these community partners and we’re kind of all learning together. So yeah, first off, the Shuck and Share Oyster Recycling Program was established back in 2014, and we’re carrying that on in Volusia County. We are looking to partner with restaurants. We do a weekly collection for them in five gallon buckets, so that instead of their oyster shell material going to landfill, it’s instead diverted towards restoration practices. And that happens after a six-month minimum curing process out in the elements. So we clean them off with the sun, the rain bugs and the birds, and then we use them in either living shoreline applications or oyster reef applications.

Fortunately, we’ve been mostly working, like I said, with those research partners applying these in settings like state parks. But we have had some interest from private homeowners who are looking to work with environmental contractors, who can apply for the permits and apply those materials in a backyard setting. So instead of them having a seawall, they’re having those living shorelines. So that program is awesome. It’s a love child of everybody who comes through MDC, I think. We have recycled a little over 980,000 pounds, so we’re crawling towards a million pounds.

Jessy Wayles: That’s awesome.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: That’s in Volusia County alone. But once you start to add up partners like Brevard Zoo who have also adopted the Shuck and Share program in their own regions, the statewide impact is absolutely incredible in terms of the materials that we’re diverting from the landfill. We also have our citizen science programs that allow members of the community to be trained, and volunteers to collect data on specific things, whether it’s water quality data, microplastics data, or some of you and I’s favorite data, which is the Horseshoe Crab Watch. And so they are impacting the program, but they’re also creating this ripple effect of knowledge. So if their friend is asking what they’re doing on a Friday night and they say, “Oh, I’m going to take a horseshoe crab survey.” They get to educate other people about the efforts that they are involved with. And that’s the case with a lot of our programs.

Jessy Wayles: That’s awesome. And Olivia, can you tell us a little bit more about Restore Our Shores?

Olivia Escandell: Yes. So we also operate an extension of the Shuck and Share program. So thank you to Marine Discovery Center for starting that amazing program. So I really can’t take any credit for it, but we work with a little over 20 partners here in Brevard County, and we’ve collected just over 7 million pounds of oyster shells since 2014. And I will say we have a very large bulk producer in Brevard County that makes most of that shell, it’s not all coming from restaurants or I’m sure that you guys would have us beat, but so that’s why our number is so big.

But we’re very thankful and we use all of that recycled oyster shell from the seafood vendors to build oyster restoration or oyster enhancement projects here in Brevard County in the Indian River Lagoon. And those are funded by the Brevard County Save Our Indian River Lagoon project plan that we have here, it’s a half cent sales tax, so half a penny from every dollar spent in Brevard County goes towards Indian River Lagoon restoration projects that are specifically tied to a nutrient removal component to try to curb the nutrient pollution that we have here in the lagoon that leads to algae blooms.

So oysters fall on that list because they’re amazing filter feeders and they can help to remove nutrients from the water column. So we’ve built 75 oyster reefs in Brevard County since 2014, and we’re only building more. So we have some big projects coming up and all of that is thanks to volunteers that help us with those projects. So if you’re interested in getting out in the water and helping us build an oyster reef or help build oyster gabions, some of those non-plastic materials that Jessy was mentioning earlier, you can visit our website, and get out in the water with us. So we’re a pretty small team, as I’m sure it is, up in the Marine Discovery Center as well. And there’s no way that these projects would be possible without community partners and volunteers that really strengthen the projects by not only providing muscle, but talking about them out in the community and educating people.

They’re really the extension of us. And just connecting people to the lagoon and what makes this place so special to try to foster that environmental stewardship that will hopefully improve water quality conditions in the lagoon. So lots of oyster things going on. We also have our oyster gardening program. So we work with volunteers to raise baby oysters off their docks. So we partner with an aquaculture facility down at Harbor Branch University, and we raise baby oysters to be able to seed some of the restoration projects that we do in areas where there are fewer oysters left naturally.

So we try to bolster those populations from the day we put them in. And then we’ve also expanded into other resources. So starting to work with clams did a really big project where we planted over a hundred clam beds in just a couple of months, and that was back in 2021. And that was a really, really fun one. And we learned a lot about where in the lagoon, or at least in Brevard County, these clams are thriving and can grow really successfully. So we’ve changed up that project a little bit and it’s now a clam gardening project.

Jessy Wayles: Oh, nice.

Olivia Escandell: Yeah. So similarly to oyster gardening, instead of showing up with these larger clams that we do watch grow, we are able to work with homeowners with even smaller clams because they’re less expensive. So we can make our funding dollars go farther, our restoration funding go farther if we can buy smaller clams and then we can have volunteers help us raise those.

Jessy Wayles: And you mentioned the half-cent sales tax. So that was an initiative that was voted in by the public, correct?

Olivia Escandell: Yes. So I think that’s another thing that makes Brevard County really special, and unfortunately other counties around us have tried to pass similar initiatives and have not been able to yet. So I’m hopeful that other counties can do something similar for the lagoon. But just after the large fish kill that we had in March of 2016 in Brevard County — and I think that that fish kill was a really big wake up call for people — a plan was put together by really amazing scientists and folks at Brevard County Natural Resources, and it was put on the ballot and passed, I think it was over 60% of voters in Brevard County voted yes for the half cent sales tax in November, 2016.

And that’s a 10 year tax, and it’s actually, hopefully going to be reappearing on the ballot in just about a year, or sorry, maybe this November. Maybe I’m wrong, it’s probably this November. So it may be back on the ballot, so if you’re a Brevard County voter, just remember oysters are less than 5% of that funding, a really small part of that funding. A lot of the projects that this tax supports are big infrastructure projects that are really doing the good work to remove that nutrients from the water column. So septic to sewer programs, storm stormwater reduction programs, lots of fun nerdy stuff. That’s good for our lagoon.

Jessy Wayles: Yeah.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: I do want to say that is a really good point, Olivia, in terms of getting involved at a municipal level. Because I think a lot of the programming that both Marine Discovery Center and Brevard Zoo and a lot of our partners are trying to create is creating this impact of, okay, we’re taking people out in the lagoon so they can see the projects that are happening in real time. But I think a lot of the visitors, or even residents themselves who may not feel like they have accessibility to those programs, that’s a really good way for them to get involved and make a change in the programs that we’re involved with as well, whether it’s the stormwater or the half cent sales tax that you guys have voting on that, getting involved at that level. Because I will tell you, we have had more input from our volunteers than just time and energy.

We’ve had former chemical engineers who are evolving the way that we take water quality samples and kind of improving the system with which we do that. We have former corporation leaders who are changing the management of how to put volunteers on certain tasks so that they’re in their optimal zone, they’re kind of clicked into what they’re doing instead of doing something that they might not be interested in. We have people who have improved the way that we make each unit of our restoration work. And so there’s different ways for people to get involved, and I think that’s really important for people to hear because sometimes they feel out of touch with the issues and the topics that we’re working with.

Jessy Wayles: Right. Yeah, you don’t necessarily need muscle and brawn to participate in this.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Right.

Olivia Escandell: Yeah.

Jessy Wayles: You can use your voting power to make those changes in the lagoon. Yeah, I love that.

Olivia Escandell: Exactly.

Jessy Wayles: So real quick, we talked a lot about community engagement, and you can tell from your answers how passionate you both are about engaging the community in the work that you do and making sure that everyone feels involved, everyone has a stake, they have buy-in and recognizing that this is their project as much as it’s your projects. So real quick, can you guys give us any tips or tricks that you would tell your friends, families, volunteers, students, et cetera, about the best ways that they could live lagoon friendly? What’s an easy way for us to live lagoon friendly?

Olivia Escandell: I think we already really touched on it, but the first thing I say is your vote. So how important it is to win. It could be a land acquisition that’s coming up on the ballot, or if there was a half cent sales tax specifically for the lagoon, or even just the candidates that you support for your local city and county commission, their influence on the lagoon is really, really important. So I think your vote is the easiest way in my opinion. You only got to vote once a year, so it’s not that bad.

Jessy Wayles: I love that. That’s awesome.

Olivia Escandell: You only have one hour and you can do something really important for the lagoon. And then I would say plant natives because it’s fun and I love Florida native plants.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Olivia, you’ve been doing a great job in your own yard, by the way. I’ve been watching your Instagram stories and I’m like, I just want to drive by your yard. Don’t be freaked out if you see my car.

Olivia Escandell: It’s funny because I’m sitting at my kitchen table right now and I’m looking out, and the yard’s kind of a disaster because it’s very much in progress mode. We have lots of ideas and plans and then they don’t get executed perfectly. But I do love our dune sunflower. I’m looking at it all over the yard.

Jessy Wayles: That’s my favorite too.

Olivia Escandell: Thank you, Tess.

Jessy Wayles: Tess, what about you? What are some ways that we could live more lagoon friendly?

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Yeah, I think from a practitioner to community member standpoint, the solutions that we use to keep the lagoon healthy and keep them going are non-linear. And there’s not one single answer. And I think that’s the same for community members. So that solution to being lagoon friendly is different for everybody, and that’s okay. And just because your neighbor is doing one thing, doesn’t mean that you have to do the same thing if you don’t feel that that’s accessible to you. 

So yeah, I mean, voting seems like the most optimal because everybody has that access to vote and the voice that they have is really impactful. But yeah, I think planting natives avoids the use of further nutrients, and I think it inspires your neighbors maybe at a visual aesthetic.

Olivia Escandell: Oh, yeah.

Tess Sailor-Tynes: I started with a small plot in my front yard, for example, and it’s like, I can’t wait to get to a place where it’s the whole yard. And so starting small will always kind of create that ripple effect of whether it’s you moving into other solutions to live lagoon friendly or impacting others to live lagoon friendly. Both of our organizations work heavily with volunteers and community members who are donating as well. So if that’s a resource that you have, great. 

If it’s time and energy and you’re sitting in retirement and you’re looking to get your hands dirty, we have those opportunities as well. And so I think the solutions are plentiful, people just have to find the ones that work for them.

Jessy Wayles: So given all of the work that you two are doing out in the field with your organizations, how optimistic are you that it’s working, that we’re going to be able to restore the lagoon and bring it back to a flourishing ecosystem?

Olivia Escandell: I would say that I have never been more optimistic. The lagoon is very dynamic and water quality conditions change a lot, but it has been a relatively good year in terms of seagrass, and I think we’re really starting to see some of those water quality improvements taken to effect. I mean, we’re literally seeing the fruits of our labor out in the lagoon, but then the bill funding and the governor’s a hundred billion dollar funding that’s going to be going towards the lagoon and all these different projects, not just county projects, but state and federal projects, there’s so much restoration dollars coming to the lagoon that I can’t help but be optimistic that there is a lot of work being done, and I think we’re really going to start to see big changes.

Jessy Wayles: Perfect. Thanks Olivia. And what about you, Tess?

Tess Sailor-Tynes: Yeah, I think it’s an interesting thing to look at because a lot of people see progress in a visual manner. They can tell that there’s a difference in the water clarity, they can visually see that there’s seagrass or not. But from a solution standpoint, we’re working with issues that have been impacting the lagoon for decades. And so we’re working on getting back to that equilibrium so that the lagoon can sustain itself. And just like we were talking about with community impact, I think they’re starting to see that and that everybody can invest in the current and future health of the Indian River Lagoon through these different pathways. And so yeah, I’m very optimistic. I think part of the work that we do inspires that optimism in other people.

Jessy Wayles: Well, ladies, thank you so much for joining us today. This was so informative and it was wonderful to get to chat with you. So before we sign off, do you guys have any last minute realization, stories you want to share? You want to plug your organization one more time? What do you want to leave the listeners with?

Tess Sailor-Tynes: I just, I’ll say that I appreciate the opportunity that One Lagoon is creating, not only on the funding side, but also the research collaboration side. I think all of the organizations and partners across the lagoon have the same impact and mission in mind in terms of what we’re trying to achieve, and everybody’s doing a really good job at creating that conversation. So thank you.

Jessy Wayles: Thank you, Tess. I appreciate that.

Olivia Escandell: And just to kind of play off of that, I really appreciate how much One Lagoon does to share about all of our different projects too, and bring these different groups together. So I get to meet Tess because of you guys, and have fun with Jessy out in the field because of One Lagoon. I’m just really thankful for you guys

Jessy Wayles: And we’re thankful for you. So thank you guys so much for joining us today on One Lagoon One Voice. Again, my name is Jessy Wayles and thanks for listening.

If you enjoy these discussions about the IRL, please like and subscribe to this podcast. And to learn more about the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, how you can get involved with volunteer opportunities, tips on living lagoon friendly, or to support lagoon restoration by purchasing one lagoon merchandise, you can visit us at

Another great way to support lagoon restoration efforts is to purchase the newly redesigned India River Lagoon license plate. The license plate has helped raise about $8 million for lagoon restoration projects since its inception, and I can say that the new redesign looks gorgeous compared to the old one. To stay informed about lagoon news and upcoming events, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all @onelagoon.

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