GET CLOSER WITH WILD ENCOUNTERS AT NAPLES ZOO

by Kelsey Burr, Naples Zoo Marketing Associate

Would you like a painting done by a giraffe? Or a chance to feed a giant anteater? At Naples Zoo,
we are constantly adding new experiences for our guests, to get them closer with wildlife and learn indepth about the animals.

We have recently launched three new Wild Encounter experiences:
a black and white tegu encounter, a giraffe encounter, and a red-ruffed lemur encounter. We also offer Wild Encounters with Athena the Florida panther, our giant anteater, Dee Gee, and the honey badgers.

Black and White Tegu Encounter
Have you seen the tegu in the Reptile Rendezvous show? During this encounter, you’ll get the entire canyon to yourself and meet this scaly lizard up close! This is the only encounter at Naples Zoo where touching is allowed. All ages are welcome, but there is a capacity limit of six people to keep the encounter
intimate and engaging.

Giraffe Encounter
Did you know that many residents of Naples Zoo are artists, including our giraffes? At this encounter, you can take home a personalized masterpiece and get an up-close view of these magnificent creatures, while learning how Naples Zoo is helping to protect them in the wild. Guests will choose their paint colors and can watch in awe as the giraffe uses its tongue as a paint brush! All ages are welcome, but there is a capacity limit of four people.

Red-ruffed Lemur Encounter
If primates are your favorite animal, this is the encounter for you! During this encounter, you’ll learn all about this unique and critically endangered primate while you feed them a snack. There is a minimum age of 5 years old to participate, and  there is a capacity limit of six people.

Florida Panther
During this encounter, guests will go behind-the-scenes and meet Athena, a rescued Florida panther. Guests will learn about Athena’s story, her state-of-the-art exhibit, and about her training. Participants must be at least 5 years old, and there is a capacity limit of six people.

Giant Anteater
At the Giant Anteater encounter, guests will learn about this unique animal and how we are working to save anteaters in South America. Then, they’ll be able to feed Dee Gee part of his diet! (Don’t worry, it’s not ants.) Participants must be at least 5 years old. Capacity is six people.

Honey Badger
You may think the honey badger don’t care. At this encounter, come see for yourself! Guests will meet Eshe, Shani, and Jabari, our fierce, yet utterly adorable honey badgers! During this behind-the-scenes encounter, you’ll help take care of the badgers by making fun, food-filled enrichment. Then, guests will go into the exhibit to hide the enrichment. Once the guests are back at the glass, the badgers will be let out to find their treats – and it’s usually very entertaining! All ages are welcome, but there is a capacity of six people.

Every Wild Encounter includes a personalized experience with a conservation educator, a meet and greet with a zookeeper, and an up-close interaction with these amazing animals.

Naples Zoo’s mission is to inspire people of all ages to respect, value and help conserve wildlife and our natural world, and we hope through these experiences, that mission will be accomplished.

To learn more and book your encounter, visit www.napleszoo.org/wildencounters.

COMMUNITY AND PUBLIC HEALTH NURSING AT FGCU

Marieb College’s School of Nursing prepares nurses designed to be caring scholar clinicians for professional practice. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and other nursing programs are guided by the leadership of Dr. Anne Nolan, who is Director of the School of Nursing. Dr. Mitchell L. Cordova joined Florida Gulf Coast University as Professor and Dean of the Marieb College of Health & Human Services in July 2011.

He now serves as Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management. He said, “The educational experience at Florida Gulf Coast University is a lot broader than just taking classes, getting grades and moving on to the next course,” said Cordova. “It’s a rich environment where students are shaped culturally, socially and civically through rigorous degree programs that lead to competitive employment.

Ultimately, it involves matching the needs of the local economy with our students’ skills to create a thriving society. We strive to provide that experience now, but this new approach will allow better synergies and efficiencies.”

Community nursing is a growing nursing specialty area as the health care system shifts to the creation of preventative primary health care services. Graduates are prepared to assume important positions in the improvement of client health outcomes. The nursing curriculum is founded on the principles of critical thinking, communication, health promotion, cultural connectedness and adherence to professional standards.

Dr. Susan Young is the lead instructor for the Community and Public Health class at FGCU for senior-level students. Clinical rotations meet at the Florida Department of Health at Collier County, NCH Wound Care Center, home health agencies and school health sites.

Students use the Community-As-Partner model first developed by authors Anderson & McFarlane. Relevant health statistics are collected and analyzed to identify health disparities. Summaries are utilized and developed to form the basis of a comprehensive Community Health Assessment. Information is gathered and organized, using guidelines developed over time, to describe health concerns. Informant interviews, participant observation and data analysis allow students to draw conclusions about the state of a community’s health.

At the end of the semester, students take a fascinating guided tour of agribusiness sites in Immokalee and surrounding farms. The fields in South Florida enjoy nearly year-round growth and harvest activity.
Farmworkers have unique disparity and healthcare risks related to the heat and sun. Greenhouse farming and drip irrigation maximize water conservation. GPS navigation is used for distribution of pest control
and fertilizers.

The effects of how our food supply is handled can be seen in the distribution of diseases in the community. Collaboration with universities like FGCU help growers stay abreast of threats to food. By gaining a deeper understanding of where food is grown, student nurses can pursue a variety of post-graduate opportunities locally.

CULINARY Concepts… Skip Quillen Style

By Jeff Lytle

Skip Quillen has learned a thing or two since training in Switzerland as a chef and first coming to Naples to work in 1981. Example: He knows the folly of those celebrity chef TV shows, which portray cooks
as the only stars at restaurants. “We are a whole company of stars,’’ says Quillen, whose Culinary Concepts launched the first of its Fifth Avenue South restaurants, Pazzo!, 23 years ago. “When you need a glass of water, that busboy is a star.’’ He leads by example. He worked as a waiter everywhere he cooked – including Santa Barbara from 1984-87, before coming back.

He still pulls shifts in kitchens and occasionally directs chefs to wait tables. Quillen does all of that in an affable, approachable way, setting the tone for success that now heads north. Where other restaurateurs would be satisfied with a single victory in Naples, Quillen has three – including  Yabba Island Grill and Chops City Grill – and strives for more with a Chops in Bonita Springs and The Saloon in Estero.

“Never a dull moment,’’ Quillen says, citing the employee team that now numbers 300: “It takes a village to run them all.’’ And a sense of humor doesn’t hurt. Pazzo is Italian for crazy and yabba translates to cool in Jamaican. Chops is obvious for meat-lovers, and The Saloon is a grazing and bar place with a
Western feel – complemented by his own collection of Western art. Freshness counts in all ways.

Pazzo! debuted a $1 million facelift this season. Yabba has added a stage for live music – aiming for more of a supper club than a nightclub effect; blue denim sound-absorbing baffles on the ceiling lend to the island motif. Menus at all five sites are tweaked constantly, keeping the high-powered photocopy machines at Fifth Avenue  headquarters humming night and day. “We don’t live in a world that’s static,’’ he says.

His restaurants are challenged as well to bond with customers over an ever-growing marketplace. Culinary Concepts uses social media to reach card club members with discounts, freebies, coupons and pop-up specials. A single web site – gr8food.net – connects diners to all five venues.

Good help is hard to find these days, Quillen acknowledges, while noting that some crew members have been with him since the beginning. Success at recruiting, he says, has a hidden payback: Existing staffers appreciate working with other good people.

There is one more kind of payback important to Quillen – helping charities. He chooses to do with little fanfare, as with sharing proceeds from featured cocktails with non-profits such as St. Matthew’s House and Grace Place, which get plugs on menus. “We are lucky to be in this business,’’ he tells employees. “We do these things because we can.’’

His ethic does not go unnoticed. “He is a true success story!’’ says Naples Mayor Bill Barnett. “His restaurants are all top-shelf and he is a consummate professional. “He is one of the reasons that Fifth Avenue South remains popular.’’

The Culinary Concepts corporate team pose at Chops City Grill in Naples for an aptly whimsical portrait; from left, Jason Mattozzi, Adrienne  Mattozzi, Kendra Rizzi, Jan Kerrigan, owner Skip Quillen, Jennifer Chin, Christopher Metzler and Christopher Principato. Photo courtesy of Culinary Concepts

Lytle is the retired editorial page editor and TV host at the Naples Daily News. Jeff can be reached by email at Jlytle@comcast.net

From North to South, WATER POLICY IS COMPLEX

Reg Buxton Life in Naples Publisher

Let’s start this article from the top. By that I mean from the water that flows from
Orlando south to Naples. This flow goes from the Greater Orlando area with its many
septic tanks and flows southward through the Kissimmee River basin picking up agricultural runoff, septic tank discharge along the way to Lake Okeechobee. We are all familiar with what happens to the water during high rain events/seasons and the
releases from Lake Okeechobee.

In the 1960’s the Army Corps of Engineers changed the Kissimmee River from a meandering waterway into a straight ditch that ran south directly into Lake O. The goal at the time was for inland freight navigation. However, without the bends and oxbows, the Kissimmee River lost its ability to cleanse the water as it flowed south adding huge amounts of pollutants to Lake O.

Started in the 1990’s and finished in 2015 the Kissimmee River Restoration project re-channelized the waterway to replicate its natural paths. With these improvements to the ecosystem, birds and other wildlife responded quickly and demonstrated the resiliency of nature. This success has been used all
over the world to justify the value of ecosystem restoration.

Another matter for concern is the buildup of chemical infused sediment in Lake O. When the water gets too high in Lake O water that historically flowed to the Everglades is now discharged to the Caloosahatchee and St Lucie Rivers and estuaries. These sediments are “kicked-up” during high wind and rain events and then flow south and east to the Everglades and west as it rushes down the Caloosahatchee River.

The excess pollution from the Kissimmee River Basin and the freshwater intrusion create unnatural salinity levels and fuel algae blooms that can kill aquatic life. The toxins made by the harmful algae blooms can have serious health risks to the public. During the dry season the Caloosahatchee can be cut off from any flow from Lake O. This causes the river to stagnate. Having either too much or too little flow combined with the basin runoff pollution is seriously damaging the Caloosahatchee River and its estuaries; the very basis of this region’s tourist based economy.

The Caloosahatchee River was connected years ago to Lake O by a dredged canal so it would divert water that used to flow south of Lake O to the Everglades This was done to make channels better and create
the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) an area of the Everglades that was drained and used for sugarcane, sod, sweet corn and cabbage agribusiness production. Lake O’s outlets are a few small canals
instead of the much larger flow south of the lake.

Now when the lake level gets too deep, water must be discharged east to the St Lucie River and west to the Caloosahatchee instead of flowing south through its natural and historical track. All along the rivers journey the water picks up additional phosphorus and nitrogen rich fertilizers from dense suburban
developments, golf courses, resorts and agricultural operations.

The construction of canals in areas like Cape Coral, Palm Coast, Sewall’s Point and many other “waterfront“ communities in Florida from the 1960’s to the present day also compound the problem with
waterways that only ebb and flow with the tides. Meaning there is relatively no current throughout the day other than tidal changes to move the water about and prevent higher water temperature and the
pooling of nutrient rich compounds.

In addition, nutrient pollution from on-site sewage systems (septic tanks), landscaping fertilizer, and manure has reached unsafe levels throughout Florida due to urban and agricultural runoff. Agriculture
and urban/suburban developments are also not being required to adequately retain and treat runoff on-site. Lack of compliance and enforcement has resulted in too much pollution getting into waterways and flowing downstream.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida advocates a comprehensive approach to restore, clean and return the appropriate historical flows to the Caloosahatchee and the Everglades. They advocate for science
based solutions that would benefit the environment, public health and safety of all communities in southern Florida.

Their advocacy includes the following actions to fix the water crisis:

• Authorize and fund the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir to expedite the funding and construction of a critical missing piece of the restoration puzzle to help reduce the harmful discharges and send clean water south.
• Retain and treat more water within the Caloosahatchee watershed.
• Protect remaining natural wetlands and flow ways in order to maintain existing natural storage and treatment capacity.
• Control pollution at its source with on-site storm water retention and/or storm water utilities systems.
The ripple effect as polluted water releases from Lake O continues to rush down the Caloosahatchee River, dark, dirty water and algae blooms plague the estuaries and beaches and threaten our greatest
economic engine – Tourism.

We are experiencing the ripple effects first hand: Seagrasses are lost: Seagrass is a main source of food for juvenile fish and manatees. Seagrass dies when the water’s salinity swings outside of natural ranges. The salinity changes when the river is subjected to harmfully high or insufficient water flows. Sport fishing industry suffers: Juvenile fish die as a result of poor water quality, less habitat and lower oxygen levels in the water caused by pollution and nutrient fueled algae outbreaks. Fewer juvenile fish
mean fewer game fish.

As a coastal community that is fully developed and engaged now in redevelopment, we have concerns about protecting our Gulf of Mexico and the beautiful waterways that make our home special. However, the solution set is complex from a macro-State of Florida perspective. The economy of Florida is a three-legged stool with tourism, development/redevelopment and agriculture making the tripod foundation.

The solutions must be balanced in order to improve and sustain our natural environment, but also to keep our state economy strong. Without taking into account these three elements of our overall economy, policies addressing the water supply, water quality and environmental restoration/protection will be myopic and assuredly will throw the state economy out of balance.

A strong ecosystem is good for all of us. The decisions have to be based on science, best management practices and enforceability. The solutions sets to address the nutrient loading from septic  tanks,  fertilizers and storm water runoff is neither cheap nor convenient. However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope as we can all agree on one thing, the status quo is not sufficient.

Sources:

Conservancy of South West Florida
– Audubon Florida                                                                                                                                                                 – C Chapman IV
– Florida Atlantic University

 

 

NAPLES PARKS

Naples residents love their parks! This love comes easily when the city is graced with wonderful open spaces of various sizes, shapes and amenities that meet the diverse outdoors and recreational interests of
residents. From the popular Cambier Park in the heart of downtown Naples – to the beach front Lowdermilk Park – to small but unique neighborhood parks like Bow Line Park; there is truly a space everyone can love.

Claiming that Naples residents love their parks is not hyperbole, it is fact supported by the results from a 2015 statistically valid survey concerning city parks and recreation facilities. The survey was sent to 6,000 city residents and 880 residents, or 14.7% responded. Generally speaking, a minimum of 10% responses are required to make the survey valid. Likewise, anything over 10% is considered a good response.

When asked: “How important parks and recreation facilities are to the Quality of Life in Naples’, 75% said they are ‘very important’, 19% said they are ‘important’, 4% had ‘no opinion’ and 2% thought parks were ‘not important’. Other survey questions support the notion that residents find the city’s park system to be valuable, in good condition and worthy of taxpayer support.

Each year, the Naples City Council establishes a budget that provides for the routine care and maintenance of city parks and for capital investments. For the most part, these capital investments pay for upgrading existing facilities or adding new amenities at various parks. For example, in 2018 funds were allocated to renovate the tennis courts at Seagate Park, replaced roofing and tables at picnic shelters at Charlie C. Anthony Park, upgraded tennis court lighting at the Arthur Allen Tennis Center, renovated the basketball court at River Park and reconditioned beach dune walkovers at multiple beach access areas throughout the city.

The point is, caring for a park system is always a work in progress and requires constant upkeep. Thankfully, the City of Naples has created excellent parks and been good stewards of these lands and facilities. Perhaps the largest park project to take place in Naples since the park system was established, is the creation of Baker Park. For many years, the City has considered various concepts for a park at Riverside Circle.

There has been no shortage of ideas about how the park should look and what activities it should support, and the Naples City Council has led a complex design process that ultimately led to breaking ground for the park’s construction in February 2018. Once opened, Baker Park will be different from all the City’s other parks and will truly be unique in its setting, architecture, topography and openness. It is also unique in that residents have donated millions of dollars including Jay and Patty Baker, for whom
the park is named for and the Blair Foundation, named for John and Dorothy Blair.

While Baker Park will be a landscape park with a destination playground, a tall knoll that provides exceptional views of the Gordon River, a performance stage to host special events and a stunning building that can be rented for retreats, weddings and birthday parties; Baker Park will also serve as a major destination along the Gordon River Greenway.

As a Blue Zones city, Naples is all about healthy lifestyles including walking and bicycling. With the recent reconstruction of Central Avenue, pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to safely connect between downtown Naples and Collier County’s Gordon River Greenway Park by passing through Baker Park and crossing the recently completed Blair Foundation Bridge, which connects Baker Park to North Road and the Greenway.

The first phase of Baker Park construction will open to the public in March (yes, 2019!) and the remainder of the park in October 2019. If you haven’t visited the Naples park system recently, please
take an opportunity to get out into the fresh air in our beautiful community. You can view a list of city park facilities on the city’s website at the following web address: https://www.naplesgov.
com/parksrec/page/baker-park

NAPLES SENIOR CENTER EMBARKS ON “A NEW ERA FOR SENIORS”

The Naples Senior Center, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive programs and social services for seniors, announced that it has launched a $15 million capital campaign dubbed “A New Era for Seniors” to establish a new state-of-the-art facility accelerated with a lead gift by local
philanthropists Patty and Jay Baker.

The Naples Senior Center is the only human services agency of its kind, providing “one-stop shop” services addressing the emotional and social needs of seniors in Collier and southern Lee counties. Since opening its doors in January 2014, the organization has seen a surge in the depth and scope of need for comprehensive senior services in this region.

“In just five years, we have outgrown our current leased facilities,” said Dr. Jaclynn Faffer, President/CEO of Naples Senior Center. “Membership has increased from 80 to more than 1,600 members, and the number of Dementia Respite Groups has increased from one to eight. We need a new permanent home where seniors can develop a sense of connection and acceptance and have their basic
needs met, today and into the future.”

The $5 million lead gift by Patty and Jay Baker puts the capital campaign on a successful track and will inspire others in the community to help the cause. The Bakers are no strangers to philanthropy; their names grace several prominent institutions across Naples. “The Naples Senior Center serves a critical need for older adults in our community,” said Jay Baker. “We are proud to support their mission of empowering seniors by giving them the tools to address life’s challenges. It is our hope that our contribution will encourage other community minded individuals to step up in support of the organization.”

In addition to the contribution from Patty and Jay Baker, the Naples Senior Center has recently announced a $2 million gift from the Brookdale Foundation. With this donation, the senior center will name its dementia respite program the Brookdale Respite Program. Additional support is also being provided by members of the Naples Senior Center Board of Directors as well as a matching grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. All services at the Naples Senior Center are provided
by licensed and credentialed professionals in the field of aging.

They include Structured Dementia Respite Support; Geriatric Case Management and Senior Outreach Programs; and Emotional Support Services as well as a “choice” Food Pantry. An average of 40 different social, educational and wellness programs are also offered each week thanks to a dedicated corps of more than 200 trained and vetted volunteers. Among the programs are a weekly “Lunch and More;” classes in art, music and film; brain fitness and educational seminars; courses in computer science; physical well being; and interest groups. The center serves everyone regardless of backgrounds and beliefs.

For additional information on the Naples Senior Center and its comprehensive program and social services for area seniors and their families, visit www.NaplesSeniorCenter.org The Naples Senior Center, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive programs and social services for seniors, announced that it has launched a $15 million capital campaign dubbed “A New Era for Seniors” to establish a new state-of-the-art facility accelerated with a lead gift by local philanthropists Patty and Jay Baker.

 

Today’s mosquito control materials are sound science in action

by By Patrick Linn, MS, MSHAPI Executive Director, Collier Mosquito Control District

With more than 40 species of mosquitoes in Collier County, our research in understanding their biology, seasonal activity, and resistance to insecticides  are key to fulfilling our mission of controlling both disease-carrying and nuisance mosquitoes.

From the salt marsh mosquitoes that migrate into the area from outside the District in the spring, to the fresh-water mosquitoes that are prevalent during the summer rainy season, mosquito control is a year-round necessity in Southwest Florida. The impact of not controlling mosquitoes in Collier County would
exert significant negative effects on public health, tourism, and the larger economy. During recent years, we’ve seen a rapid evolution of mosquito control efforts thanks to sound science and technological advancements.

Refinements in strategy, techniques, and control materials are all contributing to a more effective, environmentally responsible future. The Collier Mosquito Control District investigates and uses only EPA -approved materials as part of our integrated mosquito management program (IMM), that when used as directed, do not pose an unreasonable risk to humans, non-target organisms and the environment.
Per the best practices of all IMM programs, we rotate the use of control materials to prevent mosquitoes from developing resistance to their effectiveness.

The variety of control materials we employ target mosquitoes during both their larval and adult stages, and each material is fully approved by the EPA for use in mosquito control. To interrupt the mosquitoes’ life cycle, the District relies on larviciding materials which target mosquito larvae in their aquatic
habitats. These larvicides are natural products that do not impact non-target insects, animals, aquaculture or humans.

We use granular Today’s mosquito control materials are sound science in action larvicide materials via aerial applications and liquid larvicides dispersed from our Buffalo Turbine truck. During 2018, we treated more than 15,000 acres with larvicides, increasing our material use by some 300 percent.
The District controls adult mosquitoes by applying materials via aerial or ground applications when our surveillance program indicates large populations of mosquitoes or if disease is detected in mosquito
populations.

Importantly, our research team conducts real-time genetic tests in-house for the presence of disease in local mosquito populations every week. Currently, we use Anvil, Dibrom, and Merus to control adult
mosquitoes. When applying these materials aerially, we disperse them via an ultra-low volume (ULV) system. For example, the ULV aerial treatment of Dibrom is approximately one-half ounce (approximately two teaspoons) of control material per acre.

Rotary atomizers on our aerial fleet disperse an ultra-low volume mist with droplets measured in microns –thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. These minute droplets target mosquitoes
in flight and the materials degrade quickly in the environment. For a complete list of control materials used by the District in its IMM program, please see our website at cmcd.org.

 

To learn more about the District’s operations, public tours are available. Included are presentations by our research team in the laboratory, our operations/surveillance team, and a visit to the hangar. We also make arrangements for staff to conduct presentations at group meetings. Please call our office at (239) 436-1000 to schedule a tour or if we can provide more information.

STORYTELLERS CREATIVE ARTS

Storytellers Creative Arts was founded in 2002, by native New Yorker William Barnett. SCA is a Florida faith-based organization that uses the arts as a tool of transformation. The organization was born out of a vision that the arts have power to heal and transform lives.

In 2003, Storytellers Creative Arts relocated to Southwest Florida, later becoming a Florida non-profit. SCA combines Christian faith and the arts, creating opportunities for artists — of all talents, styles and genres — to reach out to each other, as well as to people who are in various ways challenged, to affect positive change and transform lives. Storytellers partners with numerous Southwest Florida based organizations, bringing hope and healing through creative arts. SCA comes alongside organizations such as the David Lawrence Center, St. Matthew’s House, New Horizons, and other local organizations. The outreach has extended to Georgia, Virginia and New York. Storytellers has a special interest and involvement in reaching people who battle addiction and they have created “Arts for Recovery” groups that bring hope and healing through the arts, prayer and Bible study. These groups meet in Naples on Saturday evenings.

The annual arts conference is a gathering of creatives for the purpose of inspiring artists to recognize
their God-given purpose to impact the world by utilizing their individual gifts and talent, transforming
lives. Over the years, Storytellers has featured nationally and internationally renowned artists and
speakers that have inspired and equipped the community with their art, performances and seminars. All
areas of the arts – music, visual and performing arts, writing, dance, etc. are topics of discussion, with
hands-on creative expression.

Storytellers believes that there is no greater influence in shaping culture than the arts. “We are
passionately committed to the vision of “transformed lives through the arts” and fulfilling the mission
of “empowering and equipping artists to heal broken lives and elevate culture.” Bill Barnett, President.
Storytellers has three initiatives: Community Groups – providing connection through small groups
and networking; Equipping – inspiring creativity through conferences, seminars, and community
projects, providing opportunities to serve and Outreach – mobilizing artists and those with a passion
for the arts to bring hope and healing to the underprivileged through creative expression.

Save the date: November 7, 2019 for the annual “Kaleidoscope of the Arts” – a colorful evening
of the arts, vision and stories of transformation. Event to be held at the Hilton Naples.Storytellers
invites all those with a heart for the arts and for those suffering from addiction, for the young, and
for underserved local communities, to an art-filled, colorful evening celebrating the healing power
of the arts.

For more information about Storytellers Creative Arts and its community programs, contact Bill Barnett,
president at 239.591.6649 or visit www.storytellerscreativearts.org.

ICE ACADEMY

Subtropical Southwest Florida claims a surprising number of connections to ice and winter sports.  Naples’  Brian Shimer has become a fixture in Olympic bobsled competition and coaching. An 8,000-seat ice arena in Estero now hosts pro hockey, ice shows and recreation for all ages.

Skating music programmer Alex Goldstein of Naples with friends Marina Zoueva and Johnny Johns

Now the beauty and grace of Olympic class ice dancing and other figure skating comes to Hertz Arena as a worldly skating couple move to Naples from Detroit. Soviet native Marina Zoueva’s and U.S.-born Johnny Johns’ International Skating Academy, including four other coaches, will make Hertz a teaching leader in Florida and beyond.

Zoueva, the head coach, says she picked Estero for two reasons. First, she and Johns are outdoors people and know the area from visiting longtime colleague and friend Alex Goldstein of Naples, a world-famous creator of precision music programs for Zoueva and other skaters since the 1970s. Second, the area and Hertz fit the academy’s devotion to year-round athletic training, which now is forced indoors by Michigan winters.

Zoueva says the academy relocation search team found Hertz to be of ideal size for simulating global performance venues. Plus, it is ideally located near an international airport, schools, FGCU, apartments, restaurants, parks and beaches. The mission is to work at sports such as bicycling, soccer and rowing to broaden muscles, motor skills and vision – in sync with Zoueva’s belief in good mental health and happiness stemming from good physical health.

Marina and Johnny with some star pupils backstage at 2014 Skate America  competition – Sochi gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and Maia and Alex Shibutani.

Hertz officials are pleased, too. Craig Brush, who led the founding of the arena, calls the teaching duo “second to none.’’ “It’s a big deal for us,’’ says Brush. A Brush assistant, Karl Masnjak, enthuses: “The amount of respect that both Marina and Johnny have in the sport of figure skating is unmatchable. They are in that class as the best of the best.’’ Director of skating at Hertz, Kandis Hawkins, is excited about academy students – “the top national, international and Olympic athletes in the sport’’ from around the world, as well as locals.

Zoueva focuses on positivity to build leaders on and off the ice: “Every individual has a special talent. My goal is to find that talent and nurture it in order to help each person reach their full potential.” She adds: “I tell them what to do to be better, better, better. “Put in the work and the medal will come.’’ She, like Johns, speaks from 30-plus years of coaching experience at the highest levels in Russia, Canada and the United States. She had students from the U.S., Germany and Japan in the last Winter Olympics. Her students won gold or silver medals in 1988, 1994, 2010 and 2014; those and others have won additional top honors around the world.

Her competitive and teaching successes, as well as those of Johns, would fill a whole page in  this Marina and Johnny with star pupils magazine.  Students ages 9 to 29 can come to the academy for as little fine-tuning or as much overall coaching as they need. The curriculum includes on- and off-ice drills in ballet and ballroom dancing, mime expressionism and even weightlifting for “explosive power and all-around strength,’’ the academy website says.

And there’s more. The academy will offer skating or other educational opportunities for parents bringing youngsters, and a sort of fantasy camp for adults who have dreamed of skating with stars such as
Zoueva and Johns. She also holds out the chance for the public to come see students’ exhibitions.

JOIN A SWINGING GOOD TIME – ALL FOR A GREAT CAUSE

Get all dolled up in your finest flapper dress or three piece suit and take a step back in time as the Naples Art Association (NAA) transforms into a roaring 20’s speakeasy for the year’s most anticipated event – For the Love of Art. This evening of artistic, culinary, and performing arts – all to raise funds to provide access to the arts for everyone – will take place on Saturday, April 6 at the NAA, located at 585 Park Street, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

“For the Love of Art is a wonderful opportunity to gather all of the NAA’s supporters in one space to celebrate its many  accomplishments,” said Aimee Schlehr, NAA CEO & Executive Director. “And, this year is extra momentous as we commemorate the NAA’s 65th anniversary as well.” Now, back to the party. As guests make their way to the NAA, they will be greeted by the smooth jazz sounds of solo saxophonist, Jim Blackburn, on the front plaza as a peaceful march against a world without art unfolds.

While guests sip a Prohibition-inspired cocktail, they will also learn about the importance of art and be presented with an opportunity to fund a local child’s art education. Attendees are then invited to guess the password to gain entry into the NAA’s very own speakeasy where they will dine on cuisine worthy
of a Gatsby celebration from Chef Brian Roland of Crave Culinaire/Venue Naples, including a
chef-manned Oysters Rockefeller torch station; high tea sandwich station; and delicious passed canapes.

Then, everyone is invited to kick up their heels and do their best Foxtrot or Charleston to the sounds of Father Al & The Jazz Congregation. “We will take guests on a journey back to the Jazz Age with the music of legends like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and more,”  said “Father Al” Ferrante, of Father Al & The Jazz Congregation. “As artists, there is no better feeling than supporting other artists and this event allows us to do just that.

So, get your dancing shoes on join us as we take you back to a more decadent time.”Guests will also delight the fabulous music of Tony Oberto as he tickles the ivories on the NAA’s back patio. And, a speakeasy wouldn’t be complete without some gambling. Try your luck at the blackjack, craps, or roulette table to support a Fund-A-Need or the chance to use your winnings to take one of four raffle items home with you.

But wait. There’s more! So much more. In addition to an extraordinary ambiance, entertaining musical acts, and delectable food and drinks, it’s only fitting that art will take center stage at For the Love of Art. Artists Juan Diaz, Mauricio Garay, Shah Hadjebi, Adorable Monique, Suzanne Stohl, and Janine Wesselmann will create fabulous, one-of-a kind artwork right before attendees’ eyes.

“I am honored to participate in For the Love of Art. This event conveys the meaning of celebrating talent and purpose, enriching our community, as well as artists and all creatives,” said Monique. “I am excited to be in full dress from the era and interacting with the crowd, all while creating a variety of pieces inspired by nature.”

For the Love of Art not only serves as an evening of entertainment and celebration, it is also to raise funds to provide art education for everyone – no matter  their socioeconomic background. With that in mind, there will be a special Fund-A-Need for Children’s ARTScool,  community outreach programs, and art supplies throughout the evening.

Special thanks to For the Love of Art sponsors: Naples Illustrated, Naples Daily News, Seminole Casino Hotel, Harmon’s Audio Visual, Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. Attorneys at Law. For the Love of Art tickets are $150 per person and $1250 for groups of 10 and can be purchased by visiting  www.NaplesArt.org.