This year, thanks to Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate sales, Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) awarded $305,219.27 in grants to 17 organizations, educational institutes and local governments for programs benefiting Florida sea turtles.
The Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate is the primary source of funding for Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Program. It also supports the Sea Turtle Grants Program, which has awarded more than $4 million in grants to 76 different groups for research, education and rehabilitation projects in Florida since 2001.
The Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate was approved by Florida legislature in 1997 after STC initiated a statewide effort in 1995 to create a permanent source of funding for Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Program. The plate was offered for sale for the first time in February 1998.
The sea turtle plate is currently Florida’s second most popular specialty plate and the most popular environmental specialty plate. It costs $23 more than Florida’s normal license plate fee.
70 percent of the funds raised by the plate’s sales go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission‘s (FWCC) Marine Turtle Protection Program. Approximately 30 percent is distributed to the Sea Turtle Grants Program. This means that every time a sea turtle specialty plate is purchased or renewed, more funds are raised for sea turtles!
The Sea Turtle Grants Program is administered by STC, who works with a committee to determine which projects receive funding. The program supports projects involving sea turtle research, conservation and education.
The following organizations received grants for the 2014-2015 cycle: Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, City of Fernandina Beach, City of Marathon, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Coastal Cleanup Corporation, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, East Coast Zoological Society of Florida (Brevard Zoo), Florida Coastal Conservancy, Friends of the Archie Carr Refuge, Gulf World Marine Institute, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Inwater Research Group, Mote Marine Laboratory, Sea Turtle Conservancy, University of Central Florida and Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches.
For more information on the grants breakdown, visit http://www.helpingseaturtles.org/funded2014.php.
The Sea Turtle Grants Program provides much-needed funding for several of STC’s initiatives.
This year, STC received funding for the Tour de Turtles 2014 satellite tracking and education program and to re-print and redistribute Florida’s Sea Turtles Life History Posters in both English and Spanish.
In the 2012-2013 cycle, STC received funding for a project to provide easy-to-use materials about sea turtle-friendly lighting to coastal property owners. And in the 2013-2014 cycle, STC received funding to implement InterACT with Sea Turtles: Distance Learning for K-12.
InterACT is scheduled to begin at the start of the next school year. It will use a virtual classroom collaboration system to allow students and instructors to communicate with STC staff to create opportunities for interactive lessons on sea turtles and marine conservation.
The purchase of Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate is a way to directly help save Florida sea turtles and their habitats.
To learn more about Florida’s sea turtle license plate, visit http://www.helpingseaturtles.org/.