One of St. Pete’s long-time forces for good in the community is continuing to make an impact. The recent ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating incredible capital improvements to the Clam Bayou Marine Education Center serve as yet another example of the positive changes brought by Leadership St. Pete.
The 2022 cohort for LSP was the organization’s 54th class, and the group chose Clam Bayou and its much-needed Marine Education Center renovations as its project for the year, a fitting partner for its “Waves of Inspiration Legacy.” After raising more than $105,000 for the project, the LSP class transformed the outdoor spaces at the Center, giving local children (as well the teachers guiding them) a place they can fall in love with.
The Center is a community outreach and educational facility for programs that inspire youth to become active environmental and ocean stewards. It focuses on fostering pathways toward careers in science, technology, engineering and math, an especially meaningful mission for underserved communities that traditionally lack access to such programming. The Center also serves more than one hundred teachers per year through professional development programs.
As a means of supporting that mission, LSP completed some transformative projects in the Center’s outdoor space, including the creation of a foot-washing station by the water and the construction of a lunch area with enough seating and shade for more than 40 students and teachers. Additionally, the team cleaned up the existing landscaping and updated the garden spaces with native Florida plants, and also added soft turf and a shade structure to the outdoor classroom space so students can be comfortable and protected from the Florida sun while learning.
Marine Center provides incredible opportunity for local youth
Jamie Van Cuyk was the co-chair of the project for the 39-person LSP class, and she said the experience of raising funds for and then completing the capital improvements for Clam Bayou turned out to be more than any of the team could have expected – in a good way, of course. She praised the community-minded effort of the team, and said they are each proud of what they accomplished.
“I am a mom of two little girls who love marine science,” she said. “Through them, I understand firsthand how important it is to expose children to hands-on opportunities to learn about and connect with the environment that surrounds us. Without programs like Clam Bayou Marine Education Center, other children in our community would not get those opportunities. To make an impact on a program that is making a massive difference in our local youth and encouraging careers in STEM is something I am incredibly proud of.”
Leadership St. Pete develops future city leaders
Leadership St. Pete, which just graduated its 53rd class, is one of the oldest leadership programs in America and exists as a division of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and its 501(c)(3) Foundation. The six-month program is a dynamic, intensive and interactive experience designed to promote and enhance community leadership through an in-depth introduction to social, economic, business and political issues in the St. Petersburg area.
Made possible through the support of the Chamber’s community partners, the mission of LSP is to identify, recruit and develop leaders who represent the diversity of the city and who will assume future leadership roles in the community.
This year’s project for the Clam Bayou Marine Education Center is one that LSP believes will have a lasting impact on the community, and will in turn develop future leaders in the field of marine science.
“Our environment and oceans are undergoing rapid change, and it is paramount that we continue our mission to engage as many youth as possible in stewardship, resiliency, and careers,” said Dr. Teresa Greely, Director of Education and Outreach at the USF College of Marine Science. “We are deeply grateful to the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce and Leadership St. Pete for supporting our mission in such an exciting and tangible way.”