At about the halfway mark of my fellowship with FKNMS, I was able to take a break from all the virtual meetings and actually visit Florida Keys in person! It was such an incredible experience not only to immersed into their office staff, but to explore the incredible nature the Keys had to offer.
While my primary task was to conduct in person interviews for my Needs Based Assessment, my supervisor also ensured that I got out into the field for some much-needed exploring. This included kayaking through the mangroves in the John Pennekamp State Park!
During my free weekend, I also got to explore special places throughout the keys, such as the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL. They do incredible work for rehabilitating, and in most cases releasing, sea turtles that have been impacted by boat strikes, marine debris, and water pollution.
On the last day of my trip, I attended the Sanctuary Advisory Council’s July meeting, which consisted of the announcing of the proposed policy framework: Restoration Blueprint. This was an invaluable experience for me, because it showed what real stakeholder engagement looks like and just how much of a process/timeline developing policy frameworks entail. I was truly grateful for the experience and how much my supervisor insisted I observe the process.