Reels in $140,000 for Research and Education
The Friends of Rookery Bay held their seventh annual fundraiser, the Batfish Bash for the Bay at the Rookery Bay Environmental
Learning Center in Naples. Two hundred and twenty guests enjoyed a silent auction amidst the aquariums and art gallery, sunset
and cocktails overlooking Henderson Creek, and dinner, followed by a live auction and dancing, on the center’s back lawn. The event raised $140,000 to support programs at Rookery Bay Reserve, setting a new fundraising record.
The Friends of Rookery Bay (FORB) is the non-profit organization that has been working to support the mission of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve since 1987. The Rookery Bay Reserve protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters between Naples and Everglades National Park, providing essential habitat and refuge for coastal birds, fish and marine wildlife, while supporting local businesses through tourism, sport fishing and commercial harvest.
“The evening was a great success on all counts,” said Craig Seibert, president of the FORB board. “Even though the rain held off, the addition of the tent this year made the event more enjoyable for all,” he concluded.
Silent auction items amidst the two-story exhibit hall delighted auction enthusiasts as they sipped on their Batfish Brew (the event’s signature drink) while servers passed hors d’oeuvres. Under the tent, event participants enjoyed a delicious and memorable dining experience and live music and dancing with a local band. Bidders competed for their chance to experience amazing getaways to places like Belize and Kennebunkport, Maine, as well as many great “staycations” and other opportunities to enjoy the local surroundings while fishing with television celebrity Roland Martin, or enjoying kayak tours, dinner deals, rounds
of golf, wine tastings and more, all courtesy of local hotels, tour providers and other supporters.
A special live auction category called “Fund-a-Need” raised $12,000 for shark and sawfish research in Southwest Florida.
“Working with research partners such as Mote Marine Laboratory will help fill gaps in our collective understanding of shark and sawfish behavior and habitat needs,” said Keith Laakkonen, the reserve’s director. “We are already catching sawfish that are part of our shark study, so the new listening stations we can now install in our waters will provide important clues to how juvenile sawfish are moving along our coast,” he added.
Sponsors for the event included Minto, Arthrex, First Florida Integrity Bank, Hamilton Harbor, J.R. Evans Engineering, Horizons Rentals and RGB Internet Systems. Proceeds from the Batfish Bash for the Bay support the Reserve’s education programs, research, and habitat management. For more information about the Rookery Bay Reserve or Friends of Rookery Bay visit www.rookerybay.org.
Programs, tours and events at Rookery Bay Reserve
May 2, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Homeschool Day at Rookery Bay
Curious about what lives under the waves? Ever wonder about how microscopic plankton are connected to sharks? Students will use microscopes to identify different species of plankton and learn about their role in the estuarine ecosystem. They will also learn about sharks, which species are here, and why some sharks are considered to be an indicator species. Story time or a trail walk will also be included.
The opportunity is limited to a maximum of 30 students ages 7-14. Cost is $15, includes one child and one adult. Each additional child is $10. Price includes admission to the Environmental Learning Center for the day.
May 13, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
International Migratory Bird Day
In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center offers “buy one, get one free admission.” Enjoy films about birds in the comfort of our auditorium throughout the day. Registration is not required.
May 14 – May 15, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 a.m.
Spring Slumber at Rookery Bay
Discover the nocturnal side of nature while camping with our Educators inside the Environmental Learning Center! During this special program, your child (ages 11 – 14) will learn more about the changing seasons: critter seasons, to be exact! Several animals return to the reserve during this special time of year to continue the success of their kind. Plus, we’ll cover who makes themselves known in the night, and who embraces the day time sun.
Event includes evening/morning snack, games and activities, guest speakers, a commemorative Rookery Bay water bottle, and FREE passes to the Environmental Learning Center for your next visit.
More details to be released closer to date of event. A list of items to bring will be emailed upon registration.
May 24, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
An Evening with Dr. Ellen Prager
Come to Rookery Bay Reserve for a night of fun and learning. Test your knowledge about the ocean, Southwest Florida, Rookery Bay Reserve, and marine life. Join Dr. Prager and the Rookery Bay Education Coordinator, Sarah Falkowski who will co-host the event. Trivia questions will be multiple choice and true or false. It will be fun for all ages and all levels of knowledge. Prizes will be given to the individuals or pairs of participants that get the most answers correct.
Dr. Prager will do a book signing in celebration of the release of her new book Stingray City, the third in her fiction adventure series for middle graders, Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for refreshments and book signing, with trivia from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by questions and mingling. Admission is $10 for members and $15 for non-members and includes refreshments. Reservations are highly recommended as space is limited.
Fridays, June 17 – Aug. 5, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Kids Free Fridays is a summer education program that offers free admission for children ages 12 and younger who are accompanied by an adult (up to 5 children per adult). Adult tickets cost $5.
Scheduled activities include story time, naturalist presentation, crafts, films and marine animal touch tank. This year’s theme is Fish. Registration is not required.
Events are located at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower Road, Naples unless
otherwise noticed. Registration is required for fee-based programs.