Achievement Award Program

Volunteer Seagrass Survey Program

2009 NACo Achievement Award Winner
Volunteer Seagrass Survey Program
Sarasota County, Fla.

About the Program

CATEGORY: Volunteers (Best in Category)
YEAR: 2009
In 2006, Sarasota County began its biannual survey program of its bay’s seagrass population. Because of the environmental and economic importance of seagrass, the county found it vital to perform its own survey to collect highly valuable data to help environmental administrators make sound scientific management decisions. The program began conducting its seagrass survey in the winter of 2006 to supplement aerial seagrass maps created by Southwest Florida’s Water Management District (SWFWMD). After conducting its first survey, the county staff realized that survey techniques could be easily performed by the average citizen. From that point forward, the county began soliciting help from community volunteers to assist in the seagrass survey. The community’s involvement in the seagrass survey process has not only helped the county save labor costs for the survey, but it has also served as a meaningful tool to educate citizens about their environmentally and economically important ecosystem. The residents’ participation in live scientific research that has direct impact on policy decisions has been an exciting way to get them engaged with their community and government.

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