Learn About Solar Energy!

Learn About Solar Energy!

This week you’ll have two chances to warm up to the idea of solar energy.     

Volusia County Solar Co-op Info Session
Stetson University Lynn Business Center
Wednesday, September 20

6-8 pm

MDC is proud to be a sponsor of the new Volusia County Solar Co-op! Neighbors across the county are banding together with the help of FL SUN to make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels while building a community of local solar supporters.

Come out Wednesday for an info session in DeLand to learn about how the Volusia County Solar Co-op simplifies the process of going solar while providing a discount through its bulk purchasing power.
The info session will be held at Stetson University Lynn Business Center – Rinker Auditorium, 345 North Woodland Boulevard.

MDC Public Lecture: Solar Energy
Thursday,  September 21

George Winsten, an environmental science student at Stetson University, will discuss the merits of solar energy.  Winsten also works locally as a solar specialist at Solar-Fit.

UPDATE: MDC & Hurricane Irma

UPDATE: MDC & Hurricane Irma

Tuesday, September 12: MDC staff spent the morning cleaning up the center from blown-in water, monitoring tanks and checking for any issues, putting furniture and kayaks back, and generally making sure things are ok. We had some minor damage to outside structures (such as the dock and our info kiosks) but otherwise we had no major damage that we have seen.
Right now we do not have a solid update on when we’ll be back to normal operations as our power & phones are currently still not working. We’ll likely be open for business again with our regular tour schedule on Thursday, September 14.
Keep updated on any news via our Facebook Page.
MDC To Benefit From New Smyrna Beach Paint Out

MDC To Benefit From New Smyrna Beach Paint Out

by Lisa D. Mickey

The Marine Discovery Center, along with Friends of Canaveral, will benefit from this year’s New Smyrna Beach Paint Out.

In its seventh year in the New Smyrna Beach area, the Paint Out, formerly known as “Canaveral Seashore Plein Air Paint Out,” will be held Oct. 8-14.

The event features professional artists invited from around the country to paint “En Plein Air” within Canaveral National Seashore and around the historic community of New Smyrna Beach.

The weeklong event features an evening gala on Saturday, Oct. 14 at Outriggers Tiki Bar & Grille on the North Causeway. Tickets are $40 each or $70 for two tickets.

There are also a variety of featured and judged paint-out events, a plein air gallery, live auction and events featuring both local and national artists capturing the essence of our coastal community.

Just as televised chef competitions give contestants a set amount of time and ingredients to create a culinary dish, one event gives artists two hours to create a painting, which is then judged.

Art patrons and Paint Out sponsors support the event financially, with proceeds benefitting the Marine Discovery Center and Friends of Canaveral through sales and sponsorships. 

To learn more about the New Smyrna Beach Paint Out, visit nsbpaintout.com

Volunteers Ready To Pitch In For 2017 Coastal Cleanup

Volunteers Ready To Pitch In For 2017 Coastal Cleanup

By Lisa D. Mickey

Joe and Margaret Anglin

Once again, it’s time for volunteers to spread out on beaches and parks in Volusia County and New Smyrna Beach for the annual International Coastal Cleanup and Halifax/Indian River cleanup.

The theme for the annual event each September is to “think globally and act locally.” This year’s International Coastal Cleanup will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 8-10:30 a.m.

Volunteers collect garbage and debris from shorelines, parks and beaches at various designated sites. The collected debris is then weighed and recorded as data that is shared with Ocean Conservancy for national and global statistics.

Registration to participate in the event closes on Friday, Sept. 1. The first 1,750 registered volunteers will receive a thermal lunch tote. To register, visit: www.volusia.org/cleanup

“Last year, more than 500,000 volunteers around the world collected over 18 million pounds of trash during the International Coastal Cleanup,” said Becki O’Keefe, who works in Volusia County’s Environmental Management Division.

“In addition to taking part in the cleanup, local residents can have a major impact on marine debris simply by reducing the amount of waste they create on a daily basis and by organizing their own beach cleanups,” she added.

During the 2016 International Coastal Cleanup, 2,131 Volusia County volunteers collected a total of 7,448 pounds of trash. O’Keefe hopes to break that record this year.

Several collection sites have already reached maximum capacity for volunteers, but the listed sites below still need help. They are:

Beach Sites

* Bicentennial Park, 1800 Oceanshore Blvd., Ormond-By-The-Sea

* Tom Renick Park, 1575 Oceanshore Blvd., Ormond-By-The-Sea

* Birthplace of Speed Park (Granada approach), 21 Oceanshore Blvd.,
Ormond Beach
River Sites

* Sanchez Park, 329 Sanchez Ave., Ormond Beach

* Cassen Park, 1 South Beach Street, Ormond Beach

* Sunrise Park North, 1135 Riverside Drive, Holly Hill

* Daytona Beach City Island Park, 105 E. Magnolia Ave., Daytona Beach

* Port Orange Causeway Park, 93 Dunlawton Ave., Port Orange (located at large boat ramps under Dunlawton Bridge)

* Turnbull Bay, Between 2880 & 2902 Sunset Dr., New Smyrna Beach (river access point at the west end of Willard Street)

* River Breeze Park, 250 H.H. Burch Rd., Oak Hill (6 miles south of Indian River Blvd., SR-442 off U.S. 1)

Volunteers should wear comfortable clothing, closed-toe shoes and hats. Sunscreen, water, work gloves, trash grabbers and buckets for trash collection are also encouraged.

Ocean Conservancy spearheads this initiative each year in an effort to slow an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic from entering the ocean and impacting more than 690 species of marine animals.

Research has shown that plastics in the ocean both absorb toxins from surrounding waters and become ingested by animals. Animals that have eaten plastics and microplastics in ocean trash also potentially contaminate the food chain, which could impact human health.

For more information about the local event or to learn how you can get involved, contact Becki O’Keefe at (386) 238-4716 or at bokeefe@volusia.org.

To learn more about what you can do to help encourage trash-free oceans and waterways, visit www.oceanconservancy.org

Discovery Island

Discovery Island

By Lisa D. Mickey

Visiting Discovery Island will give youngsters in the Marine Discovery Center’s summer camps and educational programs a sense of being far, far away, yet just around the corner.

The island is actually an old spoil island created as a result of dredging that occurred back when the state dug ditches to help control salt-marsh mosquito breeding. Spoil islands are the resulting small land masses of sand and soil excavated during dredging which have, over the years, become new habitats.

Discovery Island is literally located around the southwest corner by kayak from the center’s Mosquito Lagoon Marine Enhancement Center marsh and living shoreline — the former 22-acre site previously occupied by New Smyrna Beach High School. That site was reclaimed in 2014 for education and restoration, and now showcases 5.5 acres of the former high school campus that has been restored back to a tidal salt-marsh habitat.

Using the same grant funding provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Discovery Island has benefitted from a variety of different physical enhancements to help serve as an off-campus learning site for kids. The outdoor classroom of Discovery Island gives youngsters the opportunity to kayak from the center to the island to explore native flora and fauna.

In fact, summer campers will visit the Discovery Island for the first time next week, upholding the center’s efforts to provide “hands-on, feet-wet” educational programs.

“It’s a change of scenery from our property at the Marine Discovery Center,” said Erica Edmonston, education and restoration specialist at the center. “And going there requires the campers to kayak over, so it gets kids on the water. Once they’re there, it will be an exciting new place for them to look around and explore.”

While Discovery Island will be used by the center in its educational programming, the spoil island is also a public-use island. Campers, anglers and kayakers have used the island for years, but recent enhancements undertaken by a crew of MDC volunteers have helped clean up the island and better control shoreline erosion.

New plantings of native species were undertaken on the island earlier this year, with the addition of new mangrove trees, as well as native sea purslane, sea oxeye daisy, Indian blanket flower, dune sunflower, Muhly grass and at least two different spartina cord grasses. Volunteers also helped clear the island of invasive Brazilian pepper plants in early spring.

Native vegetation surrounding an outdoor nature classroom area on the island includes such species as sea grape, dwarf yaupon holly and shiny-leaf wild coffee.

Entrance slopes onto the island were also regraded for both stabilization and aesthetic purposes. This effort has provided a way to control access onto the site to reduce erosive impacts from foot traffic, while also creating a designated path of entry for visitors to the island. Recycled concrete steps were used to create stairs from the shoreline onto the island.

In addition, trails were created on the island for plant walks. Volunteers also created a plant-identification game that will be incorporated into educational activities for the campers.

“We can teach them about native versus non-native plants, as well as edibles versus non-edible plants,” added Edmonston. “The kids will also be able to learn about how plants impact a habitat or how spoil islands form.”

A campfire circle was already in place on the island, but a fire pit was created earlier this year for improved fire safety. The long-range plan is to create compostable toilets on the island that will enable MDC to bring campers to Discovery Island for overnight visits.

While MDC must share the state-owned property with the public, Edmonston noted that once enhancements were made on the island and it was cleaned of trash and debris, the public seemed to take note. The result has been less trash and more sharing. Someone even left behind a horseshoe game and hammock hooks that can also be used by the MDC campers.

“We found that once people realized we were taking care of the island, the trash became more contained,” she said. “They’re doing a better job of keeping the island clean.”

While youngsters in MDC’s summer camps and educational programs will largely benefit from the work done on Discovery Island, the center’s adult volunteers have demonstrated a sense of purpose and dedication in making the site a viable location for learning.

According to Edmonston, 647 volunteers have spent nearly 2,106 hours creating and deploying restoration materials for both Discovery Island and the restored salt marsh since 2014. This includes harvesting and preparing plugs of spartina cord grass, building and deploying oyster bags for shoreline stabilization, installing native plants and removing Brazilian pepper on Discovery Island and throughout the marsh.

A total of 129 citizen scientists helped monitor birds, plants, oyster recruitment and various other species in the marsh and on Discovery Island for nearly 448 hours. In addition, 40 volunteers contributed more than 108 hours specifically for Discovery Island “Enhancement Days,” which included cleaning the island of debris, installing plants and performing general maintenance, such as watering new plants, creating trails and removing trash.

Even visiting college students from Appalachian State University in North Carolina donated time during their spring break this year to build benches on the island that will be used in the outdoor nature classroom.

“Our volunteers have really taken pride in their work on Discovery Island and this site will give kids a chance to experience a whole new ecosystem,” said Edmonston.

Literally, considerable blood, sweat and cheers has made Discovery Island possible with many hands contributing to cut, clear, plant and replant the site’s native inhabitants.

And when campers land their kayaks on the shores of Discovery Island for the first time next week, it is the hope of MDC’s educators that the children’s curiosity and sense of adventure will be sparked by their new place to learn.

“It’s been cool to be a part of this and to see the project completed,” added Edmonston. “And it’s going to be a blast for campers to get to see it for the first time.”