Free Artists Demonstrations Offered During Plein Air Paint Out

Free Artists Demonstrations Offered During Plein Air Paint Out

2019 NSB Paint Out Cover Art by Ruth Squitieri

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla., Sept. 25, 2019 – A series of free artist demonstrations will be offered to the public during the ninth annual Plein Air Paint Out.

Set for Oct. 19-26, the public will have an opportunity to observe top artists at work and to learn artistic techniques from the artists at various outdoor sites throughout the New Smyrna Beach area.

​Art demonstrations will range from Gyotaku Japanese fish rubbing and art in the park to painting a live bird. Middle school students will also have a chance to learn from experienced artists in a special “Kids’ Paint Out, Too” on campus at the Marine Discovery Center and The Artists’ Workshop, located at 540 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach.

​The public is invited to bring chairs and to watch these artists create, as well as to engage with the artists while they work. Art created throughout the week will also be available for purchase and public viewing in the wet gallery at the Artists’ Workshop throughout the week.

Here are the planned art demonstrations open to the public at no charge. Each session will be held at a specified site in New Smyrna Beach:

Saturday, Oct. 19 – 10 to 11 a.m., Fish rubbing (Gyotaku) demonstration. Watch a demonstration of the ancient Japanese art of fish rubbing  on rice paper by Ken Nusbaum. Location: Old Fort Park, 115 Julia Street.

Monday, Oct. 21 – 10 a.m. to noon, Artist painting demonstration of a living bird. Watch artist Michelle Held paint a living barred owl, provided as the subject by Wild About Birds, Inc. Location: MDC/Artists’ Workshop pavilion, 540 Barracuda Boulevard.

Tuesday, Oct. 22 – 1-4 p.m., Art in the Park. All artists in the 2019 Plein Air Paint Out will be painting in Riverside Park adjacent to Canal Street and along the Indian River Lagoon on Riverside Drive. Location: Riverside Park, 299 S. Riverside Drive.

Wednesday, Oct. 23 – 10 a.m. to noon, Artist painting demonstration with Joe Palmerio called “The Sky is the Limit.” Location: Buena Vista Park, 550 North Causeway.

Wednesday, Oct. 23 – 2-4 p.m., Artist painting demonstration by Frank Ferrante called “Taming the Chaos of the Waves.” Location: Best Western Hotel, 1401 S. Atlantic Avenue.

Thursday, Oct. 24 – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., “Kids’ Paint Out, Too!” Watch talented New Smyrna Beach Middle School students create their own painted masterpieces. Supplies for this event are donated courtesy of the Atlantic Center for the Arts Volunteer League. Location: Outdoors on the MDC/Artists’ Workshop campus at 540 Barracuda Boulevard.

Thursday, Oct. 24 – 1-3 p.m., Artist painting demonstration by Chris Kling called “Figure It Out.” Location: Springhill Suites, 512 Flagler Avenue.

Friday, Oct. 25 – 10 a.m. to noon, Artist painting demonstration by Ruth Squitieri called “10 Minutes of Prep Equals Hours of Confident Painting.” Location: Christmas Park, 101 Live Oak Street.

Proceeds from the sale of paintings throughout the week will benefit the Marine Discovery Center and The Artists’ Workshop. The event supports fund-raising efforts for environmental education and art programs at each of the nonprofit organizations.

For full details about the New Smyrna Beach Paint Out, visit or for sponsorship/patron information, contact Wendy Castino at 386-428-4828.

October Volunteer Spotlight: Phil Clarke

October Volunteer Spotlight: Phil Clarke

Illinois native Phil Clarke is that smiling gentleman who may be spotted leading the children in the Marine Discovery Center’s summer camps to various activities.

And after retiring from a successful career in business that kept him on planes for more than 30 years with platinum travel status from various hotels and airlines, Clarke is happiest spending these days as a volunteer at MDC, teaching kids how to bait hooks, paint oyster shells or open their juice boxes.

A volunteer at the Marine Discovery Center since 2013, Clarke especially enjoys teaching youngsters about the Indian River Lagoon and how to take care of it. Read about him in our October Volunteer Spotlight with MDC staff writer Lisa Mickey:

Phil Clarke at Animal Kingdom

Q: Where did you grow up? A: I grew up in Harvard, Ill., halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago and four miles from the Wisconsin border. I was a Milwaukee Braves fan and we used to go to the games, but when they left, I followed the Cubs. Even though I live in Florida now, I still have season tickets for the Green Bay Packers. Through corporate moves, we moved to Wisconsin, Boston, Orlando, and then to New Smyrna Beach.

Q: Where did you get your education and what was your career? A: I got a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in mathematics at Western Illinois University, which is 30 miles from the Mississippi River. I ended up working in downtown Chicago right after school. 

I grew up in a farm town of 4,000, so I didn’t plan on living in a big city, but I ended up spending 20 years working in banking on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. I was a field person for a company there and became vice president of correspondent bank service. ​A couple of guys built a technology company, so I went to work for them in Milwaukee as a district sales manager after 20 years in Chicago. Their company, Fiserv, was outsourcing computer software to the same banks on which I had been calling, so I knew the clients. During my Chicago days, my territory was Illinois, Wisconsin and parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana. Then they sent me to Boston to manage the sales team in nine states. With the new company, I also sold to that area. Everything a bank does would plug into our system, so it’s software specific to financial institutions. They had about 2,800 employees when I joined them and they just went to 33,000 employees and are now a Fortune Top-300 company. I moved to Orlando in 2001 and ran their operation in Lake Mary.

 Q: So were you a financial guy who became a tech guy? A: I worked at the bank and met the tech guys there. I ended up studying at the school of bank marketing at the University of Colorado and going to graduate school in banking at the University of Wisconsin. I got more into the banking experience, but the new company was really more about the tech side. It was about bankers selling technology to banks. I worked with a colleague in Boston and when we made calls, each of us brought strengths in both the banking and technology side. And we had great support teams who worked with us. When you get into the tech world, they speak a different language.

 Q: How long did you work in Orlando? A: I worked in Orlando for about six years as a sales manager — working with the big banks for a while, before going back to the small banks. I retired in March 2016, but moved to New Smyrna in 2015.

 Q: So how does a guy from the upper Midwest land in Central Florida? A: I grew up in a little town and two people in my town used to vacation in New Smyrna Beach. There are probably 10-12 people from our town who live here now. In the mid-1970s, my parents would come down here and eventually did the snowbird routine. When my wife and I, along with our two daughters, were still living in the Midwest, we’d come down to visit. By the time we moved to the Orlando area, we knew New Smyrna Beach quite well. As residents of Oviedo, this was the beach we came to, and when I retired and moved over here in 2015, we knew this was where we would move.

Q: When did you start volunteering at MDC? A: I started volunteering in the spring of 2016. When we moved to Oviedo, my youngest daughter was going to the University of Central Florida. I learned about MDC’s summer camps through my neighbor’s grandchildren, who came to camp here. I drove over here a few times to see what MDC was and what it was about. I was preparing to retire and I wanted to do something. So I volunteered in the springtime, with summer camps coming up. 

Summer camp was where the most need was at the time and I totally enjoyed it. It was like being a grandpa to all of those kids. This summer, I saw the same kids for the third or fourth year in a row.

Q: It’s almost like watching those kids grow up, isn’t it? A: It’s wonderful. You really do watch them grow up. I also run into them at the street festivals around town and at Publix, and then I also get to know their moms and dads.

 Q: What do you like about working with these kids? A: I think I’ve helped a little bit and I’ve met a lot of good folks who run the camps. I’m just a volunteer. I’m not running the camps or classes. If they need a bucket of water, I’ll go get a bucket of water so they can keep teaching the class. I like being out here and I’ll do whatever they need for me to do. It’s pretty cool because one day, we’re going to Ponce Inlet with the kids and another day, we go to Blue Spring Park or to Disappearing Island or we go fishing. It’s fun! And this year, my grandsons came over for camp.

Phil Clarke helping with MDC summer camp

Q: Did you go to camp as a child? A: Yes, but my camp when I was a kid was in tents – more like Boy Scouts and local church camps. There was no education focus. It was mostly about going to play in the river, paddle a canoe and ride horses. This is a lot more organized with a real purpose behind what we do here. We’re teaching the kids to appreciate what we have in our little paradise.

Q: Do you volunteer all summer at MDC summer camp? A: Yes, as much as I can, almost every week. I’m flexible enough that if somebody doesn’t show up, they can call me and I’ll come over to help out. When I’m not doing summer camp, I just watch the MDC newsletter and see what I want to get involved in. I’ve helped get rid of Brazilian pepper and helped with some post-hurricane cleanup. There’s always something to do.

 Q: You have had so many professional experiences. How does a man who is 70 come here and make a connection with these children in our summer camps? A: They remind me so much of my grandkids. I’ve actually had some of them call me Grandpa. Sometimes they miss their mom or dad on that first day, so I try to give them extra attention. Some kids come from far away to go to camp. We’ve had the same girl from France for the last two years. One little girl made something for me from Bible school. Little things like that keep you going.

 Q: What do you enjoy most about volunteering at MDC? A: What I enjoy most is that parents are giving us their kids for the whole day and for a 5- or 6-year old, that’s a big deal. By the end of that week, it’s fun to watch the slideshow with the parents of what we did during camp. They are surprised at how much we do. It’s not just daycare. We keep the kids going and the parents thank us. But it’s really about educating the kids about what’s important, keeping the plastics under better control, appreciating the wildlife and teaching them about keeping both the ocean and the lagoon clean.

 Q: Working with kids sounds like a lot of hands-on educational experiences. A: It is about stewardship, but it’s also about holding their hands if they need a little bit of help and pushing them a little bit to put their faces underwater when we go snorkeling — just a lot of encouragement. Sometimes it backfires a little. Twice this summer when we took the kids to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, I had to walk down those stairs backwards. Once, I held a little girl’s hand and went down the stairs backward as she slid down each stair step on her rear end with her back against the wall because she got up to the top and had a panic attack. I can tell you that 203 steps backwards is a lot slower than 203 stair steps up.

Q: You could be playing golf or sitting on the beach. Why do you want to do this? A: I get to go fishing with the kids and I still have plenty of time. I leave here around 3 p.m., so I can do other things after a day of camp. I have time to ride my bike and play golf with my friends.

Q: Do you volunteer in other places? A: Yes, when the church needs something, I’ll help. I go to St. Peter the Fisherman Episcopal Church. I used to volunteer with the Jaycees when I lived in the Midwest. I’ve volunteered with my condo association, but that got to be too much.

Q: Is your family here? A: I have two adult daughters. We moved here from Boston in 2001, my wife got sick with cancer in April 2002, and she passed away in 2003 at age 43. She was at home in hospice care for the last six months of her life. My daughters were in high school when that happened. I’ve stayed close to them and have really tried to focus on them. One daughter is in Orlando and she and her husband have two boys. The other daughter is in Ohio and she has a son and daughter. When my grandkids come to visit, it’s like camp at Grandpa’s house.

Q: The death of your wife at such a young age must have been tragic for your family. A: Yes, but you learn that life goes on. You might have issues, but the rest of the world is still going on. I was rearing two teenage girls, but through that, my daughters and I really got close. Fortunately, they’re very responsible people. My wife died three days away from one daughter’s 18th birthday. That daughter rode horses and even though this had happened, she still went to the barn to do what she needed to do. She still rides horses and teaches riding lessons in Ohio. My other daughter got her bachelor’s degree in actuary science and earned her master’s degree and went to work for Disney in pricing strategy.

Q: What excites you the most about being a part of our mission at MDC to educate others about the Indian River Lagoon? A: One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve moved here is the awareness around town. More people know about MDC and send their kids here. Their parents are aware of the lagoon and the issues, and then want their kids to learn more.

Q: Your life empathy level is probably greater than most. Do you find there are real chances to connect and support the children at MDC? A: Oh sure. It’s a compliment when they tell me I remind them of their grandpa. Sometimes, they will come ask me to help them open their sandwich or help them with their milk carton. When they do arts and crafts, it’s fun because that activity links to the theme of the day. Maybe we have been out and they have seen oyster reefs and now they are painting oyster shells in art class. They now understand where the oysters come from and they appreciate it. We hope that the next time they are at a restaurant with their parents and someone is eating oysters, they will know a story about it. It’s not just about what Dad’s eating for dinner. The same thing is true about Disappearing Island. Maybe they have been out there on the weekend having fun, but these kids know when you walk around out there, there are crabs, fish and birds. These kids growing up here have learned more about where we live and what is living around us

Phil at Sea Squirts

Q: What do you try to give kids when you volunteer? A: I just want to open their eyes to what we have here and how important it is to keep it. I want our campers to learn to think local and to support local and to be proud and protective of what we have here. This is a nice place, but let’s not take it for granted. Let’s keep a balance. It’s going to grow, but let’s be smart in how our town grows. 

Q: Do you have hobbies? A: I love to read and I read a lot, but mostly, I spend time with my grandkids. I go everywhere with them. One of my grandsons is a dirt-bike racer and he travels all over the state, racing every other Saturday. I’m also a huge UCF football booster and I try to go to their games.

Q: What has been the highlight for you at MDC? A: It’s nice to see the physical plant improve here with the renovations and building of the new amphitheater and kayak shack. I’m also seeing the MDC logo around town on more things. Whenever I wear my MDC shirt around town after I have spent the day here, people will say things to me and thank me.

Q: After a career in business, I suppose you can see how one could make a lot of money in our town without the stewardship being intact. How do we balance free enterprise and growth while also taking care of what we have? A: I think getting the different businesses and getting the city involved in what we do is the best way to create that synergy. On our on, we can’t do it. We need help from the outside. I took a graduate class called the “social responsibility of business.” The name of the class was almost a question. How much do you give back? I think businesses have some responsibility for the health of the community they are in. When there is a partnership, it works better. I’m trying to help get sponsorships for this year’s Plein Air Paint Out and when I go talk to local businesses on behalf of MDC, I expect them to have some understanding of what we are trying to do here. We have a partnership with the Indian River Lagoon and it relies on us to make sure it is healthy.

 Q: Our volunteers come from so many different backgrounds. How do you transfer your high-level skill set of working with financial institutions to working with children? A: At times the people I managed gave me training for the kids I work with today. There’s a commonality in managing people, regardless of the size. You have to get to their level. With little kids, I get down on a knee and look them in the eye. I’m 6-foot-5, so I have to do that, but it works. Kids are funny, though. One little girl was telling me about her grandfather and I asked where he was and she said he was in a box at her grandmother’s house. [He had been cremated.] I didn’t even know what to say.

 Q: Why is it important to volunteer? A: I knew that when I retired, I wanted to do something to give back a little bit. I wanted to get involved in something positive and local in the community. There are always things you can volunteer for. I don’t think you can sit and complain about a place if you don’t try to get involved and try to understand it. I go to city and county meetings. I’m not vocal, but I go to try to learn. I think it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on. At MDC, we can get involved and really be proactive in something that is positive – whether it’s cutting down invasive Brazilian pepper plants or taking out the ice cream for the kids on Friday afternoon at camp, there’s always something to do here. You can do as much as you want. And I love it all.


Sea Turtle Nesting Is Focus Of October Public Lecture

Sea Turtle Nesting Is Focus Of October Public Lecture

Sea Turtles



When: Thursday, October 17 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd, NSB, 32169

Cost: FREE

The lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required.

The 2019 sea turtle nesting season in Volusia County and Canaveral National Seashore will be the featured topic at the Marine Discovery Center’s October monthly lecture series.

Kristen Kneifl, Canaveral National Seashore Chief of Resource Management, Volusia County Sea Turtle Conservation Plan Field Manager Sami McCorkle, and Jaymie Reneker, biologist with Ecological Associates, Inc., will co-present the update on this year’s record nesting season on Florida’s east coast.

The lecture will be held Thursday, Oct. 17, starting at 6 p.m., and will be hosted by the Marine Discovery Center, located at 520 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach.

While approximately 3,500 sea turtle nests were destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in early September, this region of Florida surpassed its all-time record in 2019, with more than 13,300 nests recorded in Canaveral National Seashore alone.

The update on sea turtle nesting will also discuss how more than 20 years of conservation has made this region one of the world’s most viable nesting sites for at least three species of sea turtles.

MDC’s October lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required.  Seating in the center’s Learning Lab is limited and early arrival is recommended. For more information about the lecture, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386.428.4828.

New Smyrna’s Annual Plein Air Paint Out Set for October 20-26

New Smyrna’s Annual Plein Air Paint Out Set for October 20-26

2019 NSB Paint Out Cover Art by Ruth Squitieri

by Lisa D. Mickey

The annual Plein Air Paint Out will once again bring outdoor enthusiasts and art lovers to the Marine Discovery Center and The Artists’ Workshop for a weeklong celebration of outdoor painting in New Smyrna Beach.

This year’s ninth annual event will be held Oct. 20-26. For one week, 25 artists from throughout Florida, the Southeast region and several other states will capture the landscape and culture of New Smyrna Beach and surrounding areas through their plein air (open air) creations.

These daily original art creations will be available for public viewing and purchase while exhibited at The Artists’ Workshop and studio, located at 540 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach — in the same building as the Marine Discovery Center.

The invited artists will be painting from dawn through the evening each day during the event at sites ranging from Old Fort Park and historic Canal Street to scenic waterways. Visitors are encouraged to attend free art demonstrations to observe the artists at work.

Proceeds from the sale of the paintings will benefit the Marine Discovery Center and The Artists’ Workshop. The event supports fund-raising efforts for environmental education and art programs at each of the nonprofit organizations.

Local artists may also get involved in the annual community “Quick Draw,” set for Saturday, Oct. 19 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in Old Fort Park in New Smyrna Beach. Participants in the event pay a registration fee of $25 in this two-hour competition to create a painting for cash prizes. Winner of the event will collect a prize of $100 and will receive an invitation to participate in Paint Out 2020. Visit for details.

New Smyrna’s Plein Air Paint Out started in 2010 by Friends of Canaveral and benefitted Canaveral National Seashore’s fund-raising arm for six years before transitioning over to other local nonprofit educational organizations, including the Marine Discovery Center and The Artists’ Workshop.

More information will be announced about daily events during Paint Out in early October.

For full details about the New Smyrna Beach Paint Out, visit or for sponsorship/patron information, contact Wendy Castino at 386.428.4828.

September Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Minton

September Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Minton

Linda Ellison Minton grew up in New Smyrna Beach and has volunteered at the Marine Discovery Center since 2013.

She has a deep history in this town and loves talking about the things she remembers, the things she has learned and even her own personal discoveries in her back yard. If you are ever at MDC on a Tuesday, stop by to meet her. You can also read about Linda in our September Volunteer Spotlight with MDC staff writer Lisa Mickey:

Q: Were you born in New Smyrna Beach? A: No, I was born in Hinton, West Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. It was a little, bitty town that was really hurt when the trains stopped running through there. My father, Z.B. Ellison, was an engineer with the C&O Railroad there, so when the railroad died, our family moved to New Smyrna Beach in 1952. I was 4. I’m not really sure why we moved to New Smyrna Beach, but I know my mother went to Stetson University for a while and was a substitute teacher in the local schools. My father bought a bunch of land and developed several subdivisions in the area, including Ellison Acres and Ellison Royal on Highway 44.

Q: What do you remember about New Smyrna back then? A: My only memory is going to the beach and seeing a man with a big tummy floating in the water. That’s my only real memory of when we first came here. I had never seen anybody float like that.

Linda Minton

Q: Where did you go to school? A: I was in the first class to graduate from the New Smyrna Beach High School here at what is now the Marine Discovery Center. I graduated in 1966.

I remember we had one of those sunken libraries where it was kind of underground. I also remember that it flooded one time. What I do remember about high school back then was we had to wear skirts. No shorts were allowed.

Q: What did you do after high school? A: I went to Patricia Stevens Merchandising School in Tampa for one year and after that, I lived in Jacksonville for a year and just worked in merchandising. I came back to New Smyrna and took general classes at the community college in Daytona Beach for about a year and half. The only thing I ever wanted to be was an archeologist, but I never pursued it, although years later, my husband and I bought property adjacent to the historic Turnbull Canal and I have found small bones and teeth in my yard. I have taken them to the Museum of Arts and Sciences for the archeologist there to examine. He believes one of the bones is a mammoth and that one tooth came from either a camel or llama and one tooth came from a 10,000-year-old horse.

Q: So did you go to work after community college? A: I worked at Sears on Beach Street in 1969. I helped close that store and open the store at the mall in Daytona Beach, which closed this year. I worked at Sears for 13 years. I was the department manager for fabrics for a while, then I moved to Atlanta and worked at Sears up there in lingerie and came back here to get married and worked in lingerie at Sears in the mall in Daytona. That marriage didn’t work.

Q: What happened after that? A: Well, time passed and I met Walter Minton. We’ve been married for 38 years. He lived in Ft. Lauderdale and worked for Florida Power & Light. I moved down there with him and his two sons. I had lived alone for six years with my cat and now I was living in South Florida with these three males. I did not love living in Ft. Lauderdale, but I worked for Safeguard Business Systems there. That was at the time when Sears was cutting full-time staff and they would only hire me part-time, so that’s why I went with Safeguard. They handled checks and bookkeeping systems and it was really interesting. I took care of orders.

Q: Did you at least get out on the water in South Florida? A: Yes, my husband had some friends who were into boating and some lived on sailboats. We did some of the Columbus Day regattas and enjoyed sailing. We went over to Bimini in the mid-1980s and got caught in a storm over there, so I flew home on a seaplane. One thing I remember about that trip, when we took off and flew around Bimini, one side of the island was beautiful and the other side of the island was nothing but trash. It was really sad.

Q: How did you transition from Ft. Lauderdale back to New Smyrna Beach? A: My husband got transferred back to New Smyrna. We had been trying because both of our families were here. We moved to Port Orange and I bought a small craft store for a couple of years called Busy Bee Crafts in South Daytona Beach.

Q: Are you crafty? A: No, not at all, but I love being around people who are. It was a pleasant experience, but there were some big crafts stores around and it was hard to compete with them. Back then, macramé, tole painting, basket weaving and beading were very popular. I eventually closed the store.

Q: What came next? A: My sister-in-law wanted to open a pre-school in our family’s homestead on Highway 44 where I grew up, so we started working on it in 1988 and opened it in 1989 as Ellison Acres Preschool. It’s still there and my sister-in-law still owns it. I had to go take classes to be able to work there with 3- and 4-year-olds for about 20 years. In fact, Frozen Gold, the ice cream shop on Highway 44 used to be my uncle’s grocery store. It was Ellison Acres Grocery back then.

Q: What came after two decades of working in childcare? A: Well, I went back to merchandising at Bealls for four years. I like selling merchandise and working with the public. But going back to my days of working at Sears, I can tell you that whatever shoes were fashionable at the time was what I was wearing. Wearing heels on those concrete floors for so many years certainly took a toll. My feet started hurting so bad I had to quit at Bealls, so I went back to the pre-school and helped out when needed. We work with children there from two years to pre-kindergarten.

Q: When did you start volunteering at MDC? A: I’ve been volunteering for six years in August. I wanted to give back to the community. I had visited the Marine Discovery Center when it was located on the North Causeway. I love animals and for some reason, I decided this is where I wanted to come volunteer. Tuesday is my normal day to work at MDC with [volunteer] Gayle Belin. We’re a good team.

Q: What do you enjoy about your volunteer role at the Welcome Desk? A: Having grown up here, I really enjoy getting to talk to people about our town. I like telling them what I know about our history and about places to go to eat and places to visit. I also enjoy helping them make reservations to view our exciting Indian River Lagoon and I think our gift shop is an excellent place to shop. Everybody is always looking for the manatees, so I also tell them the best places to go to possibly see them.

Q: What do you enjoy most about volunteering? A: Just being around people and being at a place where there’s something new all the time. It’s definitely not stagnant. And I’m looking forward to the events that we will hold at our new amphitheater.

Q: Have you volunteered in other places? A: Yes, I was a master gardener and volunteered at the Volusia County Agricultural Extension Office for several years. I also was a founding member of the Seaside Herb Society in Ormond Beach. I’ve always grown herbs and my favorite herbs are lemon thyme, garlic chives, rosemary and Thai basil.

Q: Volunteering takes a lot of time. Why do you want to do it? A: I feel like I’m helping to bring awareness to our ecology here. And I talk to all of my friends about it and they get involved and come to classes at MDC.

Q: Do you have any hobbies? A: About 20 years ago, I became interested in genealogy. I’ve had my DNA tested with two different places. By researching our family, I’ve learned that I’m of 99 percent European heritage – English, Irish, and Scottish. I enjoy looking up history and piecing things together. So far, I’ve found information about our family dating back to the late 1700s and early 1800s, and I’ve explored five generations in two family lines. Once you get going, you just want to keep going.

Q: Did you make any interesting discoveries while exploring your family history? A: There’s a park in West Virginia called Pipestem Resort State Park. That was our family’s land, but I did not know that until I started doing the genealogy. That’s in Hinton, West Virginia, where I was born. Our family’s name there was Neely, which was my great-great-great grandfather’s land on my father’s side. My grandfather is buried in a family cemetery out in a cow pasture. When you ride by, you can see a big mound out in the middle of this big pasture. The other side the family — the Farleys — are also buried in the country, but there are no stones at all. I went up there one autumn to where the graves are and it was just breathtaking. I stood up there and thought, “Wow, ya’ll had a pretty good life up here.” All of my ancestors were farmers until my grandfather and he had a store, so maybe that’s why I enjoy merchandising, and then my father worked with the railroad. Hinton was a grand little town at the turn of the century, but sadly, when the railroad died, Hinton died.

Q: Speaking of history, you have lived here in New Smyrna for most of your life. How have you seen this town change? A: It’s kind of sad, especially with the large condos that have gone up on the North Causeway. I didn’t understand how encroaching it was going to be. What were they thinking? And Bouchelle Island! When I was younger, that was a good place to go parking! [Laughter] It was just a wooded area with places to pull in with your car. I also remember having bonfires on the beach at night. You could drive on the beach at night and there were no tolls. Of course, we have to have tolls on the beach because we have to have some control there. I remember where I grew up in New Smyrna, all the roads were dirt roads. Sometimes they would bring in the convicts to clean the roads and the canal back in those days. I remember as kids, we were not allowed to walk on Jungle Road because the prisoners were down there cleaning.

Q: What do you want to see happen in our little town? A: I want to see us keep the charm and not have these huge buildings. I know we have to make changes for the economy, but I believe in controlled growth. There are so many homes and apartments being built out on Highway 44 and all the new businesses have changed the traffic pattern, too. At least I know where the back roads are!

Q: Has there been a highlight for you at MDC? A: I really enjoy the people I work with, from meeting and working with Gayle and the MDC staff to meeting the public. I love it when there’s a phone call about an injured animal and how everybody jumps up to help. About a year ago, there was a whale sighting at the beach. I took the call and everybody really jumped up about that! Another time, a pelican was tangled in fishing line and staff went to help that poor bird.

Q: What excites you the most about helping MDC achieve its mission? A: The Marine Discovery Center has grown rapidly. Just to watch what has happened visually in the six years I’ve been volunteering here has been amazing with all the classes and boat trips and the new amphitheater. We’re doing a lot to try to introduce the lagoon to people and help them see it on our boat trips. With the kayak trips, guests can really get close to nature. When people come back from these trips, they’re so excited. You can see it in the expression on their faces and they want to talk about what they saw during their trip. I truly love the education part of what we do.

MDC’s September Public Lecture Looks At Butterflies

MDC’s September Public Lecture Looks At Butterflies




When: Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd, NSB, 32169

Cost: FREE

The lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required.

Butterflies will be the featured topic at the Marine Discovery Center’s September monthly lecture.

Deland native Jim West, who grew up in the florist and landscaping business, will be the guest speaker and will discuss these intriguing insects in his presentation, “Plight of the Monarch Butterfly.”

The lecture will be held Thursday, Sept. 19, starting at 6 p.m., and will be hosted by the Marine Discovery Center, located at 520 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach.

West owned and operated Stetson Flower Shop, a family business for 20 years, before becoming a high school teacher. After leaving DeLand High School, he started a horticulture and lepidoptera studies program at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, where his students planted and maintained 8,000 plants for seven years.

Since retiring and moving to New Smyrna Beach, West has taught seminars at Stetson University and for Master Gardeners and local garden clubs. As a member of Monarch City USA and Butterfly Society, he designed the 1,200-plant butterfly garden at Bill Dreggors Park in DeLand.

West will discuss the fall migrations of butterfly species and will inform guests about what they can do to help support dwindling populations of butterflies as food sources and habitat have become increasingly diminished across North America in recent years.

He will also bring native milkweed plants and various other butterfly plants to the lecture for display and purchase.

The September lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required. Seating in the center’s Learning Lab is limited and early arrival is recommended.