MDC Launches Buy-A-Brick Campaign For New Facilities

MDC Launches Buy-A-Brick Campaign For New Facilities

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by Lisa D. Mickey

The Marine Discovery Center has launched its Buy-A-Brick Campaign to invite the public to participate in the center’s growth.

The non-profit organization will break ground this year on a new amphitheater and is planning for an education center on the MDC campus once occupied by New Smyrna Beach High School. Each of the planned facilities will help continue MDC’s mission to protect and restore Florida’s coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems through education, research and community stewardship.

The brick campaign will run through May 1, and gives the community a chance to personalize bricks that will be used to form the main stage of the planned amphitheater.

Artist rendering of our amphitheater

MDC Executive Director Chad Truxall notes that it wasn’t that long ago when he was volunteering to help build a touch tank and outdoor exhibits for the center at one of MDC’s first locations — the city’s former water treatment plant.

“We were so proud of the money we raised and the transformation that occurred in the small outdoor place we had at that time,” said Truxall. “Now here we are 16 years later, and the Marine Discovery Center is embarking on another transformative project. The 2018 Buy-A-Brick Campaign is an opportunity for citizens to leave their mark at MDC as we begin to develop our Phase II and Phase III development plans.”

The center’s plans include more of its trademark hands-on, feet-wet programs for children and adults through the construction of an amphitheater, walking trails, establishment of a trailhead for the St. Johns River to Sea Loop, a new kayak launch and storage area, and a future education center, said Truxall.

Phase II will be completed in 2018, with Phase III expected to begin in 2019. Funding from the brick sales will be used to leverage additional support for these projects, Truxall added.

“Each unique brick will serve as a reminder of the great community support that exists to connect our children to nature, and as well as to protect and preserve the Indian River Lagoon,” said Truxall.

Bricks are currently on sale at MDC for $40 per brick, $75 for two bricks and $37.50 for each additional brick. Three lines of up to 20 characters and/or marine/nautical clip art may be used for each brick order. Deadline for ordering is May1st.

Brick order sheets for the campaign are available at the Marine Discovery Center or online.
For more information, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.


MDC Expands Summer Camp Programs With New Additions

MDC Expands Summer Camp Programs With New Additions

by Lisa D. Mickey
News Release

The Marine Discovery Center will offer three new camp programs this summer, adding a camp for homeschooled students, as well as six sessions of new two-day camps.

Joining a summer schedule that includes 28 different camps for youngsters ages kindergarten to eighth grade, the new programs were added by popular request.

Three sessions of the new Salty Scientists two-day camp will be held for children in kindergarten through second grade May 31-June 1, July 2-3 and July 5-6. Campers will focus on sea creatures found on the Florida coast in this program.

Three sessions of the inaugural Water Warriors two-day camps will be held for campers in grades 3-5 from May 31-June 1, July 2-3 and July 5-6. This program is designed to expand campers’ knowledge of the world of water with island exploration, fishing and marine-related arts and crafts.

“We’re hoping to reach more families who may want their children to have an educational experience, while also enjoying time at the beach during family vacation,” said Michelle West, education coordinator at MDC.

Addressing the need to offer a special program for homeschooled students, the new Estuary Explorers will offer youngsters in grades kindergarten through sixth grade a chance to focus on the ecosystems of the Indian River Lagoon.

“This camp will give homeschooled students a chance to meet and interact with other kids who are also homeschooled, as well as to have a fun educational experience away from home,” added West.

Other popular camps will be held for Loggerheads (grades K-2), Leatherbacks (grades 3-5), Mangrove Maniacs (grades 3-6), Aquatic Adventures (ages 5-8) and Lagoonys (grades 5-8).

A new field trip will be offered to Mangrove Maniac campers this year. The WaterVentures Learning Lab will bring its mobile interactive learning lab to the center to provide a hands-on look at Florida’s diverse watersheds, water conservation and recycling initiatives.

A free resource for the state of Florida offered through the Crystal Springs Foundation, WaterVentures is a 53-foot tractor-trailer that has been transformed into a science-learning lab on wheels.

Older children in the summer camp program will enjoy two sessions of FWC Saltwater Fishing camps (grades 5-8), as well as the popular SCUBA camp (grades 5-8).

Due to popular demand, one additional half-day camp has been added for archery this summer. Youngsters in grades 3-6 will have three half-day camps in June and July to perfect their archery techniques.

“Most of the kids we get have always wanted to try archery, but just never had a place to do it,” said MDC Education Specialist Logan Rohrbach, who is a certified archery instructor.

MDC has offered archery for six years, with interest in the program growing each summer. The Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network supplies archery equipment to MDC throughout the year as a community partner in the center’s archery program.

MDC’s archery program has a permanent designated archery range on a corner of the center’s campus away from other programming.

“It’s a regulation range designed using U.S.A. Archery safety regulations, so not only do the kids in our camps have fun while learning this sport, but they are also safe while doing it,” noted Rohrbach.

Voted as the 2017 “Star of the South Best Local Children’s Attraction” by readers of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, MDC’s summer camp programs continue teaching children about coastal ecosystem through feet-wet learning.

Last year, nearly 400 youngsters from 15 states and three countries attended summer camp at MDC during 10 weeks of activities.

Camp registration at the Marine Discovery Center is currently underway, with available discounts for early registration and MDC members.

For details about the camps, contact the Marine Discovery Center’s education office at 386-428-3310.

NSB History Mystery Boat Tour

NSB History Mystery Boat Tour

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NSB History Mystery Boat Tour

Wednesday, January 24 | 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Take a cruise through history as guides from New Smyrna Beach’s Museum of History introduce you to the city’s colorful, interesting past from the comfort of MDC’s 40 passenger boat, “Discovery”.

Learn how New Smyrna got its name  |  View the mysterious Old Fort Ruins and Bad Luck Hill  |  See where famous Union ship commanders met their deaths in an ambush during the Civil War  |  Find out where Al Capone smuggled bootleg into the city—or did he?  |  Discover Coronado Beach  |  Learn how Massacre Bluff got its name  |  View historic Ponce Inlet where long ago sailors risked death entering the ever-changing waters to get to New Smyrna


Adults $29
Seniors (62+) & Students $26
Family* $75
Children** $13

* 2 adults (parents) and 2 children (under 12); additional children $10 each
** Under 12

To register for this cruise you must call Marine Discovery Center at 386.428.4828.
Space is limited to 40 passengers.

New Challenges In 2018 For Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

New Challenges In 2018 For Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

By Lisa D. Mickey

The Marine Discovery Center hosts a lecture on North Atlantic Right Whales early each year to help citizens identify the large mammals sometimes spotted just offshore.

The presentation also encourages individuals to engage in a volunteer contact system designed to alert officials whenever these endangered animals are in the area.

Sadly, the challenges increased for the right whale in 2017, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported an “unusual mortality event (UME).” The UME detailed that 17 right whales were found dead off the coasts of New England and Canada last year, plunging the current global population of these whales to 450 animals.

Further, officials from NOAA warned in early December that the species of whale — which can weigh up to 150,000 pounds and grow as long as 48 feet (nearly 15 meters) — could be extinct within 20 years if critical action is not taken to protect them. Scientists estimate there currently are only 100 breeding females in existence.

One report noted that warmer water temperatures in Halifax, Canada, had lured some of the whales into atypical foraging areas that were also shipping channels. Of the 17 whales that were found dead in 2017, six were reportedly killed by blunt-force trauma – likely from collisions with vessels, said NOAA.

NOAA has already begun work with commercial fisheries from Canada and the United States, requesting improved communication to help avoid whale/ship encounters, as well as to help minimize entanglements. Five right whales were freed from fishing nets in 2017, with two dying following entanglement.

Precautionary measures with North American fisheries intensified in 2009. According to a NOAA report, fisheries were required to sink 27,000 miles of floating lines deep into oceanic waters, and more than 3,000 more miles of fishing line was removed from North American waters in 2014.

And while NOAA, along with various other national and state agencies, work to improve management of commercial fishing practices and methods to make waters safer for right whales, the addition of volunteer spotters has also benefitted the effort. Volunteer spotters living in coastal regions help report whale sightings to officials, who can alter shipping and commercial fishing routes, thereby preventing whale strikes.

Julie Albert, manager of the Marine Resources Council’s North Atlantic Right Whale Monitoring Program, currently leads more than 800 volunteers along the east coast of Florida. Albert will once again lead the discussion on right whales during MDC’s free monthly lecture on Thursday, Jan. 18.

The free lecture will begin at 6 p.m., at MDC, located at 520 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach.

The public is invited to come learn more about these endangered creatures, as well as what can be done by local citizens to help protect them when they show up off our shorelines this winter.


Annual Appeal

Annual Appeal

Annual Appeal

Because of you, the Marine Discovery Center is celebrating 20 years of community engagement through exploration, conservation and education. Together we’ve restored living shorelines, counted horseshoe crabs, measured seagrass, rescued dolphins, manatees and pelicans and most importantly educated over 30,000 people annually to create the next generation of ambassadors for the Indian River Lagoon.

As a community we all understand that our shared future, recreation, livelihood and investments will thrive as the Indian River Lagoon thrives. We’ve also been reminded recently of the vulnerability of this special body of water and how important it is to our economy, community and overall way of life.

At 20 years old, the Marine Discovery Center is a proven reliable steward of environmental and financial resources. Your gifts to the Marine Discovery Center are an investment in a respected and trusted environmental leader and this year contributions will have doubled the impact! In celebration of our 20th anniversary all donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to $20,000 towards our endowment fund! Please make a gift of $500, $100, $50 or $25 to protect our common interests in the Lagoon through Marine Discovery Center’s work. Each dollar you give is a promise to support a mutual-heartfelt commitment to determined efforts by the Marine Discovery Center toward Lagoon health, awareness, and sustainability.

You may also pledge a sustaining gift via automatic credit card donations, you can donate online using any of the “donate” buttons on our site. You may contact me directly at 386-679-3622 regarding gift planning, becoming a member of the Dolphin Society or making an IRA qualified charitable contribution. Also, please remember to check with your place of business to see if it will match your charitable contribution.

Special 20th Anniversary gifts of at least $1,000 made by December 31, 2017 will be listed with your name on an anniversary plaque at the Marine Discovery Center.

Because of your support, through the years, the Marine Discovery Center has earned credibility and established far-reaching revered relationships. Loyal friends, Dolphin Society members, volunteers, and corporate partners join in the knowledge that together we make a difference.


Chad Truxall
Executive Director

Volusia County Solar Co-op selects Wayne’s Solar to Serve Group

Volusia County Solar Co-op selects Wayne’s Solar to Serve Group

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News Release
November 3, 2017

VOLUSIA COUNTY, FL The Volusia County Solar Co-op has selected Wayne’s Solar to install solar panels for the 104-member group. 

Co-op members selected Wayne’s Solar through a competitive bidding process over 10 other firms. The group will hold a public information session on November 15 at 12:00 p.m., at Daytona Beach City Hall and 5:30 pm at the New Smyrna Beach Regional Library to educate the community about solar and the co-op process.

The selected installer shared, “Wayne’s Solar, Inc. is honored to be the official solar contractor for the Solar United Neighbors of Florida Co-op program.  This program is an exceptional opportunity for the home owners in Volusia County, and we look forward to designing custom solar home packages for every participating Co-op member.”

Solar United Neighbors expands access to solar by educating Florida residents about the benefits of distributed solar energy, helping them organize group solar installations, and strengthening Florida’s solar policies and its community of solar supporters.

Co-op members selected Wayne’s Solar for their strong warranties and quality equipment offerings.

Selection committee member, Julia said, “We are confident in our decision and had a lot of qualified bids to choose from for our co-op.” The co-op is open to new members until November 30.  

Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Wayne’s Solar will provide each co-op member with an individualized proposal based on the group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save off the cost of going solar and have the support of fellow group members and solar experts at Solar United Neighbors.

Information Sessions:

Wednesday, November 15, 12 p.m.
Daytona Beach City Hall
301 South Ridgewood Avenue (Room 149-B)
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
RSVP here

Wednesday, November 15, 5:30 p.m.
New Smyrna Beach Regional Library
1001 South Dixie Freeway
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32114
RSVP here

For more information, contact Ben Delman at 202.888.3602 or