The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate, recently awarded $349,943.06 to 24 different projects benefiting Florida sea turtles as part of the 2018-2019 grant funding cycle. STC received two grants this year, totaling $23,200.
Each year, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes money to coastal county governments, educational and research institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process. The sea turtle specialty license plate is also the primary source of funding for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Turtle Protection Program.
STC received $9,700 to upgrade and expand our successful distance learning program, “InterACT with Sea Turtles.” This program brings sea turtle education to life for thousands of school kids around Florida through virtual field trips. The “InterACT with Sea Turtles Distance Learning Program” uses an interactive, multimedia approach to sea turtle education using a virtual collaboration system to directly engage students in the classroom. The goal of InterACT is to create an informed, proactive youth that will support sea turtle conservation and become environmental stewards. This program provides educators with free, easy-to-use online resources, access to experts and comprehensive lessons plans that make sea turtle education fun, informative and engaging for students.
STC also received $13,500 for a new straw-on-demand program in Florida’s coastal restaurants. To address the mounting impact of marine debris on sea turtles, STC will conduct a statewide, year-long conservation stewardship campaign that will reduce plastic waste produced by restaurants and change ingrained behaviors among Floridians to slow the flood of single-use plastics. STC will work with at least 50 restaurants along Florida’s east coast to adopt a straw-on-demand policy, through which straws are only offered to customers upon request, with an emphasis placed on replacing plastic straws with paper options. STC will provide signage that can be displayed strategically in the restaurant and biodegradable coasters for tables that explain the policy to customers. These materials will help to ensure that guests will be exposed to this conservation message and will encourage them to learn more about marine debris and how they can change their behavior.
Plastic straws are considered a “gateway plastic,” meaning that once a person finds an alternative to using plastic straws, he or she may rethink using other single-use plastics. STC will work to reduce the amount of plastic that can end up on Florida nesting beaches and in the marine environment. This project will also empower Floridians to start making small lifestyle changes to reduce the impacts of plastics in the environment.
Learn more about the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate Grants Program at helpingseaturtles.org