Programs, Tours and Events at Rookery Bay Reserve

MAY 2020

Experience Rookery Bay “Virtually” Every Day in May

Join Rookery Bay Research Reserve every day in May at Friends of Rookery Bay on Facebook for interesting information, virtual tours and behind the scenes access to Rookery Bay’s research and programs. Each week will focus on a different aspect of Rookery Bay’s work and mission. Topics will include Shark Research, Water Quality Monitoring, Fish of Rookery Bay,
Invasive Species (plants and animals) and Avian Research.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve stretches across 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters, encompassing 40% of Collier County coastline. The Reserve is committed to preservation through research, education and land protection. So, go virtual for the month of May with Rookery Bay! It is the perfect way to learn about water, wildlife and natural beauty of Southwest Florida as well as the ways Rookery Bay is working to protect it for future generations.

Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center

300 Tower Road • Naples, FL 34113 • • 239-530-5940

Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids 6 – 12, and free for kids under 6
Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Touch, see and explore Southwest Florida’s coastal environment at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Experience hands-on, interactive exhibits including marine life touch tanks and habitat displays. Enjoy trails, naturalist led programs, nature viewing bridge over the water and more! Kids and adults alike can explore the Center and discover the plants, fish and wildlife that call
Rookery Bay Research Reserve’s 110,000 acres home.


Essentials of Digital Photography

June 8 • 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • $55 Registration is required

If you want to get the best pictures possible, and truly understanding your camera’s features, this camera workshop is for you. The class covers the essentials of your digital camera. You will learn how to use your camera’s shutter, aperture, ISO control and the drive modes to create images with impact and creativity. Sonny Saunders has over 35 years of experience in photography and instruction and is renowned for his ability to communicate to a wide variety of students.

Summer Institute for Marine Science – SIMS

Day Camp for Rising 8th, 9th and 10th Grade Students Choose from 3 Weeks: June 9 – 12, June 16 – 19, June 23 – 26 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. • $150 (scholarships are available)
Registration is required

SIMS is the ideal summer camp for rising 8th, 9th, and 10th grade students with an interest in Marine Sciences. Participants will explore coastal ecology through field trip excursions both in and around the 110,000 acres of the Rookery Bay Research Reserve. Each week will include an in-depth look at the mission and efforts of Rookery Bay with visits to surrounding areas of the Western Everglades, exposure to research and monitoring of local wildlife and off-site field trips to other marine science and environmental centers.

Experience Rookery Bay Guided Boat & Kayak Tours

Join Rookery Bay Research Reserve for a guided boat tour or kayak adventure into the beautiful waters of Rookery Bay with our exclusive partner, Rising Tide Explorers! All the guides are active local biologists, certified naturalists and certified kayaking instructors making them the most qualified guides in the region.
With our kayak tours, guests paddle through beautiful mangrove tunnels, teeming mudflats and intricate oyster reefs while searching for amazing wildlife like sea stars, large snails, birds, dolphins and manatees!
Our boat tours are small 6 passenger boats and offer a comfortable and informative ride. Guests can choose from a number of different boat tours including a shelling trip to a deserted a barrier island, a sunset tour, a backwater plants and wildlife trip or an excursion to the highest point in Collier County with a visit to an ancient sand dune.
Book at or call 239-530-5972. 41

Rookery Bay Brush Strokes – Fish of Rookery Bay

June 13 • 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. • $60 Registration is required

Paint the beauty of coastal Southwest Florida and the wildlife of estuary waters at Rookery Bay Brush Strokes watercolor painting class. Local Naples artist Jan Deswik offers step-by-step simple instructions and creative support that’s perfect for beginners or anyone inspired by the coastal environment and wants to bring it to life in a one-of-a-kind painting. Each class spotlights a natural theme from shells to birdlife to local waterways. Held in classrooms at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, all materials are included. Participants will leave each class with a completed painted piece with matte.

Breakfast with the Birds – Bird Bling:

How Banding Birds Aids in Conservation June 17 • 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. • $15 Registration is required

Learn about bird banding and how it can make a big difference in the world of avian research and conservation. Adam DiNuovo, the Shorebird Stewardship Program Manager for Audubon Florida, will present. Adam has been working with shorebirds and seabirds across the United States and beyond for more than 15 years. Doors open at 9:00 a.m. Lecture begins at 9:30 a.m. Enjoy pastries, coffee and juice.


Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) Workshop

July 1-2 • 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. • $25 Registration is required

The TOTE Workshop will focus on Rookery Bay Research Reserve, specifically estuarine research, stewardship, and education. It is open to all teachers. The workshop is based on the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Estuaries 101 Middle School curriculum and focuses on topics such as: sharks, birds, plankton, invasive species and water quality. Mornings are spent in the field exploring the reserve. Afternoons are inside, meeting staff and learning about activities to adapt to classrooms.

Kids FREE Fridays – Summer of BIRDS

July 10 – Raptors • July 17 – Songbirds • July 24 – Diving Birds
July 31 – Seabirds $8 Admission for adults, FREE for kids under 12 • 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

This popular education and hands-on program is back for the summer of 2020 at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center! Beginning Friday, July 10 environmental-educators will put the spotlight on a different bird with hands-on activities, crafts and games – all within the cool comfort of the air-conditioned, state-of-the-art Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Please visit for weekly themes and activities. Facility open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Rookery Bay Brush Strokes – Mangroves

July 11 • 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. • $60 Registration is required

Paint the beauty of coastal Southwest Florida and the wildlife of estuary waters at Rookery Bay Brush Strokes watercolor painting class. Local Naples artist Jan Deswik offers step-by-step simple instructions and creative support that’s perfect for beginners or anyone inspired by the coastal environment and wants to bring it to life in a one-of-a-kind painting. Each class spotlights a natural theme from shells to birdlife to local waterways. Held in classrooms at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, all materials are included. Participants will leave each class with a completed painted piece with matte.

Essentials of Digital Photography

July 13 • 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • $55 Registration is required

If you want to get the best pictures possible, and truly understanding your camera’s features, this camera workshop is for you. The class covers the essentials of your digital camera. You will learn how to use your camera’s shutter, aperture, ISO control and the drive modes to create images with impact and creativity. Sonny Saunders has over 35 years of experience in photography and instruction and is renowned for his ability to communicate to a wide variety of students.

Breakfast with the Birds – Meet the Beach Nesting Birds of Southwest Florida

July 22 • 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. • $15 Registration is required

Learn about the unique birds that nest on the beaches and sandbars in Southwest Florida. Adam DiNuovo, the Shorebird Stewardship Program Manager for Audubon Florida, will present. Adam has been working with shorebirds and seabirds across the United States and beyond for more than 15 years. Doors open at 9 a.m. Lecture begins at 9:30 a.m. Enjoy pastries, coffee and juice.42

Heart to Heart Uncommon Times for Life in Naples

The one thing that you can almost always predict people to do is to act in their own best interests.
– Kim Dickey, Leadership Consultant and Speaker

This quote offers the unadulterated truth about human behavior and dealings with others. In the age of COVID-19, though, all bets are off. These uncommon times call for gestures of generosity, goodwill, and kindness – some may say this suggests a different approach is unfolding in even the most ordinary of human interactions. Many of us appreciate the extra steps we, collectively, are taking as family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, patients and shoppers are a little more gentle with each other. We are also more keen to look out for those around us, whether in our line of sight or in isolation. It’s never been more true that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Typically, for this three month issue, I’ve covered all the bases for Mother’s Day in May, Father’s Day in June with a “round up” of local businesses, charitable and educational organizations plus dining establishments offering deals for moms and dads or special summer offerings. However, as this magazine goes to press, it is uncertain if the governor’s Safer-At-Home order will be extended such that group activities, dining in restaurants, and fundraising events are limited after May 1. So the topical subjects have shifted a bit, just as typical predictions of behavior are altered, too.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment this spring time, typically the busiest season here in Naples. The restaurant and retail sector, with massive closings for safety protocol, except take-out/curbside for dining, are especially hard hit. It is hard though to imagine anyone immune to the uncertainty and anxiety wrought by this pandemic. No doubt you know of someone directly affected by some economic or other loss; it may even be a family member. It may be you, the reader. Seventeen million people is large enough to say this hits home in one form or other.

And still others have lost loved ones during this time. Even if not to this virus, others have been affected as our society’s norms for final goodbyes and funeral services have been altered in ways we never imagined possible. Maria Shriver noted in a thoughtful yet sad social commentary: “…you can’t gather to console, you can’t put your arms around someone to comfort them as they sob uncontrollably, you can’t get on a plane and fly to be by your loved one’s side.”

How has this experience affected or changed you? Humans naturally seek out social connections, to support each other and the community, to laugh, to learn, and to encourage new ways to move ahead once this is behind us.

Maybe you’ve newly met a neighbor from a safe social distance. You now check in on each other because it’s a good thing to do.

Maybe you’ve taken more walks with your dog or your household, to get some fresh air and be out in nature.

Maybe you’re a little more mindful when checking out at the grocery store as those Plexiglass shields, masks and gloves remind us that our “front line” is being redefined as we speak.

Maybe you’ve given a gift card to a healthcare worker or first responder, in appreciation for the huge task they have at hand as well as the risks they take; and, also, to support a favorite local shop or restaurant.

Maybe we will realize that the truth embodied in the opening quote is that our own best interest is inextricably linked to everyone around us.

Stay safe, stay informed. Take these STEPS:

Floridians can find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, please visit the Department of Health’s COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), please visit the CDC COVID-19 website.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-(866)-779-6121.

The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to

Take STEPS in Florida to fight COVID-19:

  1. Social distancing/Stay at home, where possible
  2. Testing
  3. Elderly and vulnerable populations including: residents of nursing homes, long-term care facilities and other group residences; those immunocompromised individuals including people in cancer treatment; chronic lung disease patients and those with moderate to severe asthma; people having serious heart conditions, diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease
  4. Prepare healthcare facilities and healthcare workers
  5. Stop the Introduction of COVID-19 statewide from out-of-state.

Email Karen with your article ideas concerning Life in Naples (especially as to local charities and their activities in the face of COVID-19): Follow her on Instagram for more vignettes about Life in Naples: @naplesbythenumbers.

Give Where you Live

by Jeff Lytle

by Jeff Lytle

February’s 24 hour Give Where You Live marathon is history, with a record $5.7 million in donations some as small as $10.

With that mission accomplished, the harder work begins – for the non-profits who got money.

“Our team is honored to be involved with two incredible foundations – The Community Foundation of Collier County and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation,” says Beth Hatch, executive director of Pathways Early Education Center in Immokalee, whose $45,000 donor total was one of the largest percentage gains (53 percent) over last year, qualifying for a $5,000 bonus.

Community Foundation staff is happy to help as Give Where You Live is in progress

“Their leadership, continued guidance and generosity help us to change the path for Immokalee’s children on a daily basis” via English-immersion preparation for kindergarten and beyond.

Give Where You Live has tripled in only six years. Donors this year were enticed by matching grants and prizes totaling $400,000 from the Schulze Foundation and $100,000 from the Community Foundation.

The event also serves to shine a spotlight on perhaps lesser known non-profits and spark future donor confidence.

An example is one of this year’s big gainers, by 170 percent to $29,000 over 2019. The STARability Foundation is a new name for a longstanding support group for the developmentally disabled. STAR (Support, Teamwork, Awareness, Respect)ability CEO Karen Govern credits board members, parents and established donors for starting early to beat the drums via personal and social media networking – even a YouTube video touting the match potential.

“The generous support we received through Give Where You Live demonstrates that more people have become aware of our mission …,” Govern explains. “We don’t turn anyone away for inability to pay. The funds will help our Trailblazer Academy workforce training program, art workshops, life skills classes and recreational sports leagues.”
Appreciation comes from higher profile organizations as well, such as The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, which ranked second in overall fundraising this year with $673,000 – up 334 percent – from 100 givers.

“We leverage the match from the Schulze Foundation and the Community Foundation to encourage new and current members to give at this time to increase the value of their gifts,” Vice President Paul Seifert says, including one large boost by an anonymous donor for construction of a dormitory for post-graduate students in conservation, ecology, biological sciences, policy and advocacy, environmental education and wildlife rehabilitation. “This is essential to the program due to the very tight housing market in Collier County and especially Naples,” he notes.

The Naples Senior Center, which earned a third best $530,000 from 120 donors in February, is a surging non-profit that Give Where You Live helped place on the philanthropy map only a few years ago. CEO Jackie Faffer says: “The results affirm public support and appreciation for our mission to serve seniors and their families — and to keep up with the demand for more.

“We are proud to be on the front line to fight loneliness and hunger, help families deal with dementia, enrich lives with academic and recreational activities, and much more. Every dollar is put to work.”

Florida Gulf Coast University drew the fifth highest donor support, $451,000. “Give Where You Live touches the lives of our entire FGCU community — from our 15,000 students to more than 30,000 alumni and over 2,000 employees,” says Tony Lee, director of university relations. “This campaign will support student scholarships, academic programs and research from water to education.”

A thrilled and thankful Debra Haley, executive director of New Horizons of Southwest Florida, says of its $788,000 total: “This is our largest fundraiser of the year and we are overjoyed to finish in first place for the first time.”

New Horizons offers after-school and summer tutoring and mentoring programs at no charge for underprivileged children K-12. “In 2015 we had two sites offering four programs with 90 at-risk students enrolled,” Haley says. “Today we have five sites at local churches offering a range of seven programs and 200 at-risk students enrolled.”

Jason Kurek, chief philanthropy officer for Champions for Learning, chimes in: “Much of the funds from Give Where You Live have been designated by donors to support our mentoring, scholarship and college/career readiness programs. Students are given a clear path to graduate from high school, attend a college or other post-secondary institution, earn their degree/certification with little to no debt, and successfully enter the workforce.”

So there you have it. One mission accomplished and many more under way. As CEO Eileen Connolly-Keesler puts it, “At the Community Foundation of Collier County, we are passionate about making a difference in our community. We know our donors are too.”

Sheriff Kevin Rambosk NAACP Humanitarian Award

Sheriff Kevin Rambosk is shown with WFTX FOX 4 anchor and event co-host Shari Armstrong and NAACP of Collier County President Vincent Keeys after being surprised with a Humanitarian Award at the local NAACP’s 37th annual Freedom Fund Gala.

The NAACP of Collier County recently surprised Sheriff Kevin Rambosk with a Humanitarian Award during the organization’s 37th Annual Freedom Fund Gala at the Naples Grande Beach Resort.

“Sheriff Rambosk has made a commitment to the betterment of everyone in our community,” said NAACP of Collier County President Vincent Keeys when he presented the award. “He values and embraces inclusion and diversity in all of Collier County and he is exceptionally deserving of this Humanitarian Award.”Sheriff Rambosk said he was humbled by the honor.

“This recognition means a great deal coming from our friends and community partners with the NAACP,” he said. “I believe that when all of us work together it helps keep our crime low and our quality of life high.”

Sheriff Kevin Rambosk is shown with WFTX FOX 4 anchor and event co-host Shari Armstrong and NAACP of Collier County President Vincent Keeys after being surprised with a Humanitarian Award at the local NAACP’s 37th annual Freedom Fund Gala.

History of the Cove Inn

The Tahitian Cove Congress Inn bulkhead line in 1963 is the large white area extending into Naples Bay.

by Lila Zuck, Naples Historical Society Historian

In 1961, Edward P. Schoenthaler and his wife Agnes purchased the Old Cove restaurant and lounge, the land just north of the Old Cove, the apartment units in the rear of the restaurant and the land beneath them, and the adjoining 5.25 acres of property on Naples Bay from Dr. and Mrs. Willis “Bill” Yeamans for $300,000. The parcels had been had purchased by Dr. Yeamans from B. W. Morris, Jr. in 1956.

Mr. Schoenthaler was president of the Boxcraft Corporation of Chicago, a firm which designed and manufactured packaging for cigarettes and meat products. He and his family had been regular winter visitors to Naples, before relocating permanently in 1961.

He was granted approval from City Council to construct a multi-unit yachtel and marina, the $1.5 million Tahitian Cove Congress Inn. A bulkhead line was established and filled in. It became the land on which the hotel and 75-slip marina were built. Polynesian in style, the hotel was designed by architect William Zimmerman, and constructed by the E. H. Marhoefer, Jr. Company in 1963.

Beginning in 1957, with the passage of the Bulkhead Law by the Florida Legislature, counties and cities were permitted to designate definite land limits by drawing imaginary lines known as bulkhead lines that extend out from the shore and into the water. The watery space was then filled in, thereby turning water into land. The costly creation of more real property became a practice of real estate speculators and developers, who did not receive much opposition from local governments, at first, or horrified conservationists and fishermen.

The owner and the seller of the submerged land is the State of Florida. Local governing bodies set the limits of the bulkhead lines which were then sent to the State’s Internal Improvement Board for approval. The Tahitian Cove Congress Inn was built on land filled between bulkhead lines which eliminated a once healthy, living vegetated shoreline inhabited by oysters and numerous other forms of marine life. The vegetation also filtered storm water on its final route to Naples Bay.

Two years after the 1957 Bulkhead Law was passed, municipal planners envisioned the future appearance of the state’s coastline, warning “You won’t know Florida in the 1970s. A jet pilot flying high over coastal Florida in 1970 will look carefully before he comes down, for he could easily miss his destination by a couple of cities, anywhere along the state’s 8,400 miles of shoreline, which will become a sea of housetops if shore development is not curbed and the establishment of new bulkhead lines is not kept to a minimum.”

1964 view of the completed Tahitian Cove Congress Inn

Mr. Zimmerman designed a convention hall in the main building to accommodate 300 persons, and an area in the lobby for small shops. The first occupants of the lobby spaces were Laverne- Howard Coiffures and the Waikiki Apparel & Gift Shop both of which opened in 1965. On the top level of the main building, accessed by elevators, were six “commodore suites” or penthouses, overlooking Naples Bay, with a breathtaking view of the waterway as far as Gordon Pass.

He also designed the Island Hut, a restaurant-cocktail lounge built on pilings over the water at the far eastern end of the Tahitian Cove Congress Inn. His original design of the restaurant called for a glass floor, through which the clear flowing river and fish would be visible. The construction of a heated swimming pool overlooking Naples Bay was completed by 1965.

Direct motorist access into Crayton Cove from U.S. 41 and the construction of a city park on Naples Bay came about because of the presence of the Tahitian Cove Congress Inn. In 1967, the City purchased the bay and canal frontage tracts north of the Cove Inn from private owners for $240,000, for the construction of a public park on a spoil bank and a small marina on Naples Bay. The seven-foot deep canal had been used as a base for commercial fishermen.

Before the spoil bank was created by E. Turner & Sons, who filled in the canal with rock and spoil, the canal had been the southern extension of 9th Street South. The completed project both created Naples Landing on the spoil bank and also allowed for U.S. 41 to be extended directly to the entrance of the Cove Inn. The cost to the City of the 50% federally subsidized extension of U.S. 41 was $16,000. The extension of Broad Avenue South to tie in with 9th Street South materialized in 1969.

From Reluctant Readers to Eager Readers

An Immokalee Reader selects “Me and My Amazing Body” by Joan Sweeney

by Noemi Y. Perez

Four times each week throughout the school year, after the bell rings to signal the end of regular classes, more than 650 elementary school students throughout Immokalee gather with teachers and tutors for one of their favorite activities: reading books.

Students in The Immokalee Foundation’s Immokalee Readers program range from kindergarten through fifth grade, and their reading readiness needs a boost to bring them to grade level – an important measurement that helps ensure these young students are better prepared for academic success. How does The Immokalee Foundation address this critical need? By training more than 100 high school students for paid positions as reading tutors

To become a tutor, each high school student must develop a resume and undergo a job interview – an excellent career-building experience for those who apply. Once a high school student is accepted as a tutor, they participate in training to learn how best to coach their young readers. Their work is supervised by certified school teachers who provide evaluations and feedback. And more often than not, the paycheck the tutor receives from the foundation is the first they’ve earned.

Tutor Miranda Herrera practices reading with an Immokalee Foundation student during the Immokalee Readers program

Immokalee High School student Giovanni DeSantiago wasn’t certain what to expect when he first became part of the Immokalee Readers program; some of the students were hesitant, so he helped them find books about subjects that were interesting to them. Soon, DeSantiago realized the students’ enthusiasm for reading grew quickly. “Watching the students become better readers and take pride in their skills is so rewarding,” he said.

DeSantiago also noticed something else among the students he was tutoring – that their sessions were about more than just reading. “I know they look to me as a role model and as a friend,” he said.

The mother of one of our young students shared the inspiring story of her son. She said he was slow to speak as a toddler, and that he had fallen behind in reading early in his elementary education. But all of that changed when he began participating in The Immokalee Foundation’s Immokalee Readers program. “Now, he comes home and tells me about how he works in a group and how they read together, and he loves to read now,” she said.

That sense of accomplishment keeps the young students excited to come to the program and continue learning through reading. And the tutors feel pride about the difference they’re making. Julissa Montalvo, another Immokalee High School student, said, “I know how important literacy has been to my success, and I love seeing the progress of my students.”

Tutor Osbaldo Vasquez Jr. assists an Immokalee Reader at Eden Park

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit

Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at

Bruce Barone, Jr shares his feeling that Paradise IS NOT IMMUNE

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” Abraham Lincoln

No truer words were spoken than those by one of our greatest presidents Abraham Lincoln. As I write this column, I look back over the last month with great disbelief but marvel at the ability of all Americans to come together during this time of great threat by the Coronavirus.

To think that a tiny organism could bring this country, actually the world, its people and the economy to a grinding halt is hard to fathom, but it does make one realize just how vulnerable we are and how family and life are so undeniably consequential. We have definitely had to face facts. Even in Paradise…no one is immune to this invisible enemy. The residents of Naples, and even visitors who have been sidelined here as they wait to return to their homes, are all doing the same: washing our hands, keeping a safe distance, taking regular walks, or leaving home only for the most essential of needs…food and medicine. We are all in this together.

However, thanks to technology we have continued to communicate. The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District (BID) represents the 220 businesses located on the iconic street at the heart of our community. As its Executive Director, I was  heartened to see the BID willing to take the lead on informing our businesses and our residents of up-to-the-minute decisions  from our national, state and local governments that affect our merchants and restaurants and in turn affect our residents
and visitors.

As a leader in pushing out information regarding mandates on cleaning, seating, serving and even availability of loans, the BID has kept the business community on Fifth informed. The BID has also provided a vital community service as well, by letting our residents know through a number of social media platforms that many of our merchants and restaurants have remained open for business, while following all government guidelines to protect the public.

Many of our restaurants, while closed for inside service, have continued to provide curbside or take out service for those who don’t want or aren’t able to cook. In short, we adjust and innovate, but we still meet the needs of our community and our local economy. As we emerge from this crisis, and we will, the 220 businesses and all the employees they represent will hopefully all be back and raring to go.

They will need the support of the Naples community more than ever, as they try to make up for lost income which translates  primarily into lost wages for employees. Each business owner on Fifth knows clearly how important local residents and
tourists are to their survival and ability to thrive in the future. Their existence, in turn, impacts our local property taxes, our property values and our lifestyle.

Naples is a microcosm of the rest of the country. As the economy starts to churn again, small businesses across the country will  turn again to the symbiotic relationship with their customers, pick up the pieces and move on. Naples will do the same. We expect to see our friends, neighbors and tourists returning to downtown and our lives returning to normal. No doubt we will
all be better prepared next time around.

There have been many lessons learned during this crisis, but Honest Abe was right when he said he was “a firm believer in the people.” I’m sure we are all feeling a little proud right now. I know I am.

Bruce Barone, Jr., an 18-year Naples resident, is the Executive Director of the 5th Avenue South Business Improvement District.

Native Beauty – Tina Osceola tells us more

Tina Osceola

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” For Immokalee native, Vanessa Billie, her dreams are beauty. Vanessa is a proud Seminole and Mexican woman whose makeup and beauty line, Billiee Beauty, has been featured in national publications such as the Huffington Post and been used on models walking the runways for well-known indigenous designers, and on the faces of performers rocking the stage and streets for music videos.

Vanessa grew up in Immokalee and graduated from Immokalee High School in 2015. During a post-graduation conversation with her mom, she suggested that Vanessa go to school to become a makeup artist because not only did her mom know her daughter’s passion for makeup, but she thought Vanessa was extremely talented and had an eye for color. So, Vanessa jumped at the idea and enrolled at the Academy of Glam in Cooper City, Florida.

She didn’t stop there! Upon graduating she enrolled at the Florida Academy in Ft. Myers to study Aesthetics. It was during her time at Florida Academy that her dreams began to take shape. She knew she loved making women feel beautiful and more
importantly to feel confident using products that did not hurt their skin or the environment.

Elaine Aguilar, who served as Seminole Council Liaison for the Immokalee Community, provided Vanessa with invaluable advice and strength. Vanessa is Seminole and Mexican, and drawing Mexican heritage from her mother, meant that she would not have a clan. Seminoles are matrilineal and clans are birthrights only passed down through Seminole mothers. As a child, Vanessa felt self-conscious and she doubted that she had the right to be proud of her heritage as a Seminole.

Aguilar, a member of the otter clan, told her that she has every right to claim her heritage and to be proud of who she is as a young Seminole woman. Further, she told Vanessa that it is important to learn as much as possible about her culture and traditions so she could pass it down to her own children.

Vanessa credits her mother, Maria, and Elaine Aguilar as being forces of inspiration behind Billiee Beauty. She knew that starting a beauty line was going to be hard but it would be worth it. She made sure to research a line of products that were cruelty-free, mineral-infused and vegan. Her color palette was taken from the vibrant colors of Seminole patchwork, Seminole fire colors (as seen on her logo) and the beautiful skin colors of indigenous people. Vanessa is grateful and humbled by the support her line is receiving and says she absolutely loves her customers, “I didn’t think this would be as big and popular as it is. I love everybody and all the pics they post when they’re wearing my makeup.”

Kimberly Arledge, a loyal customer from the Brighton Seminole Reservation commented, “Vanessa has great products and her liquid lipsticks are my favorite. They are smooth and creamy and not drying at all. Amazing quality!” She even credited Billiee Beauty with making her Valentine’s Day a success! Corinne Zepeda, a tribal member from Naples, swoons, “Billiee Beauty is a pioneer in indigenous owned makeup brands. With names like ‘Earth’ and ‘Aboriginal’ and highlights named ‘Fry Bread and Honey’ her line of products is every indigenous makeup enthusiast’s dream! All of her products are long-lasting and smell

When asked about her goals for the line, Vanessa responded, “I want to grow it as big as I can and I want to be able to sustain a
business that can also contribute and give back to my community.” Vanessa said she hopes to start a charity so she can help the
Seminole Tribe’s Youth Group Home and the hard-working farmworker community in her hometown of Immokalee. Vanessa certainly has taken hold of her destiny and dared to dream. She is a spark of inspiration to all young women.

Sanctuary and Healing for Animals and Visitors Alike

by Deanna Deppen, Executive Director
Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education and Experience Center

Shy Wolf Sanctuary has rescued and provided sanctuary to 1,260 captive-bred exotic animals ranging from wolfdogs to gopher  tortoises, foxes, and more. While rescue is a significant part of the organization’s mission, so is education. Founder Nancy Smith felt so strongly about education and conservation that she chose to add the Education and Experience Center to its name when  incorporating it in 2001.

In 1993, sanctuary co-founders Nancy and Kent Smith welcomed a three-legged leopard named Moondance. Four wolf pups followed in 1994. Because they were exotic animals that had been born into captivity, they would not be accepted by
government animal services, wildlife rehabilitators, or zoos. They would have been euthanized.

Shy Wolf Sanctuary fills a unique void by rescuing these captive-bred exotic animals that have often endured neglect, abuse, and abandonment. While people are attracted to the animal’s unique looks, they are rarely prepared to meet their pet’s dietary, containment, or enrichment needs. Every single day, the organization gets calls, emails, and social  media outreach from people reporting animals in need.

Through a network of volunteers, Shy Wolf helps to rescue and rehome when possible. However, many of the animals require ongoing medical care and more secure enclosures, so the organization offers a safe and loving place to live out their lives.

Part of what makes Shy Wolf Sanctuary so special is that healing happens on many levels for both the resident animals and the human visitors. Volunteers have always found solace and referred to Shy Wolf as their sanctuary as well. Psychiatrists have long  referred clients, recognizing that the animal encounters had the power to help people overcome a variety of emotional

In 2017, Shy Wolf Sanctuary began offering its Healing Hearts program to support foster and at-risk kids at The Children’s
Network of Southwest Florida, Youth Haven, and The Shelter for Abused Women & Children. Most recently, Shy Wolf
began offering Veteran support services in partnership with the Southwest Florida Chapter of Home Base.

During the Healing Hearts Program, participants meet the Sanctuary’s rescued resident animals. Guests are taken through an animal encounter that becomes a therapeutic setting, where they open up to experience forgiveness, courage, and unconditional love. Hearing the animal stories and seeing how they have healed  creates a bridge for participants to begin recovery.

While the organization’s current size and location limit the on-campus programs, Shy Wolf is moving forward with plans to expand on a 17 acre parcel of land on Golden Gate Boulevard. With a larger campus, the sanctuary plans to welcome additional animals in need and expand its educational and therapeutic animal  encounters.

For more information about how you can help Shy Wolf Sanctuary grow, contact Deanna Deppen or visit

Be Visible Bicycle

Michelle Avola
Ex Director of NPC

Every day I see more and more people out enjoying Naples on the back of their bikes. Most cyclists know to stay aware of the traffic laws wherever they are riding, and to always stay alert. But the most important safety tip is to be visible. Visibility is key to avoiding a collision. Here are practical tips for increasing your visibility while riding your bicycle:

  • Wear fluorescent colors. Choose a neon yellow, bright orange, lime green, or hot pink shirt and socks. Wearing bright colors helps you stand out rather than blend with the landscape. Neon colored socks are smart because our eyes tend to notice things that move. If you wear white, brown, blue, green, or black, you are much more likely to blend in and not be noticed.
  • Be sure your bike has a functioning headlight and taillight, and both are visible for several hundred feet. Use your front and rear lights in blinking mode during the day to increase visibility, and only your taillight should be blinking at night with the headlight a constant beam. Make sure your bike has plenty of reflectors too – on the fenders, spokes, pedals, and body.
  • Ride in a prominent spot in the lane. Don’t ride next to the curb. That sets you up for a sideswipe by a car that gets too close. When you ride closer to the center of the lane, cars will need to change lanes to pass as they would any other vehicle, and that is additional protection for you.
  • Adhere to traffic laws. Bicycles on the road are considered vehicles and must stop at stop signs and red lights. Be sure drivers at intersections see you by making eye contact with them, especially if you plan to ride across the intersection in front of them. Without eye contact, assume they do not see you.
  • When you are changing lanes, merging, or turning, always signal your intentions. Use your left hand to point when going left and use your right hand to point when you are going right. Ride predictably so drivers will understand where you want to go. Don’t cut in and out of traffic, change lanes quickly, or ride between cars.
  • Don’t get too close to parked cars. When passing by parked cars, listen for locks opening, watch for doors opening, and watch for traffic. You could get “doored” by someone entering or exiting a vehicle who doesn’t see you.
  • Don’t stop on the right side of vehicles because you will be in the blind spot. Even if you are riding in a bike lane, don’t pull up in that lane to the right of a car at an intersection. Always stop behind the vehicle. Otherwise, you could be run over by a vehicle that turns as they may not see you.
  • Always assume that drivers don’t see you. To make sure you are as safe as possible, always ride with the assumption that drivers don’t notice you. Stay alert and be prepared to ride defensively.
  • Always wear a helmet, and get one that’s neon colored, or maybe even one of those mohawk helmets to be super eye-catching!
  • One last important reminder: never ride with earbuds or headphones. It is illegal, but it is also very unsafe. The only one looking out for you is you. You need all of your senses to do that effectively.

For more information on pedestrian and bicycle safety, please visit If you have any specific question, email me at