ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Duke Energy Foundation recently awarded $425,000 in Florida to fund environmental programs, provide equity of access to science education and help create biodiversity across the state.
“Duke Energy Florida understands the importance of environmental stewardship within our communities,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “We’re proud to support programs that protect and rehabilitate Florida wildlife, as well as conserve and restore native habitats. Education is critical to preserving Florida’s waterways and natural resources for future generations to enjoy.”
The company has developed long-standing relationships with environmental organizations to help make significant impacts across the state.
Following the red tide outbreak, Duke Energy Florida is working with Coastal Conservation Association Florida to release 100,000 redfish fingerlings by year-end along Florida’s west coast. This will help provide abundant recreational fishing opportunities.
“Our ongoing collaboration with the Duke Energy Mariculture Center is helping the Gulf ecosystem to recover at a more rapid pace,” Coastal Conservation Association Florida executive director Brian Gorski said. “This year’s grant will help research the most cost-effective way to clean up fish kills from red tides, thereby improving our water quality and air quality within our coastal communities.”
Duke Energy Florida has also supported Franklin's Promise Coalition, Inc. in support of Conservation Corps of the Forgotten and Emerald Coasts since the program was founded in 2015. The Conservation Corps trains young adults for careers in environmental conservation and restoration, as well as disaster response, while completing their education, earning industry certifications and building life and career skills.
In the two weeks following Hurricane Michael, Conservation Corps members logged nearly 1,400 hours of work – the equivalent of 35 weeks – delivering food, clearing debris, and removing trees from senior citizens’ houses and then covering them with tarps until homes could be repaired.
“Duke Energy grants allow us to train and certify members in disaster response, as well as complete an array of habitat restoration projects as hands-on work experience,” said Joe Taylor, executive director of nonprofit Franklin’s Promise. “During ‘blue skies,’ our crews restore forests, beaches and marshlands, making the land and our communities better prepared to withstand the next storm. Directly after a storm, our corps members provide tree and debris removal assistance to senior citizens, low-income families and those with disabilities. We provide critical services, both before and after a natural disaster, to residents who are in most need of assistance.”
Duke Energy Florida is proud to provide grants to 15 organizations that make impactful contributions to the communities we serve. Here is a complete list of the 2021 Duke Energy Foundation nature grant recipients in Florida:
Audubon Bald Eagle Conservation Program received $55,000 to protect and conserve bald eagles through the statewide EagleWatch community science program and medical treatment and rehabilitation at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. EagleWatch volunteers monitor approximately 40% of the state’s nesting pairs of eagles by tracking active nest locations, collecting important productivity data and identifying possible disturbances or threats to nesting activities.
Coastal Conservation Association Florida
Coastal Conservation Association Florida and its Tampa Bay partner, Ocean Aid 360, received $50,000 to test five fish kill cleanup approaches tailored for limited vessel access areas. This research will test four new approaches, not presently in use, against the traditional, hand-held, landing net method. The goal of the project will be to improve fish kill cleanup methods, specifically for limited vessel access areas, which will reduce municipal cost of cleanup operations and reduce prolonged exposure to compromised air and water quality caused by red tide and fish kills.
Florida Wildlife Corridor
Duke Energy provided $10,000 for the 2021 Spring2Shore Expedition. This involved a 50-mile trek by young adults from the Rainbow River headspring to the Gulf of Mexico, organized by the Florida Wildlife Corridor Coalition. The grant helps conduct community outreach and education about the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which is a network of lands and waters throughout the state that support wildlife and people. The organization combines conservation science with compelling imagery and rich storytelling to heighten the visibility of the corridor and inspire its protection.
Tampa Bay area
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Clearwater Marine Aquarium will use its $100,000 grant to increase capacity to rescue and rehabilitate manatees in Florida. A 40-foot pool will be refurbished to provide critical care for manatees at the rehabilitation center and provide resources for staff to commit additional field time to the extra manatee rescues anticipated next season.
USF St. Petersburg
Established in 1991, the Oceanography Camp for Girls (OCG) encourages the pursuit of technical careers in science and engineering. With Duke Energy’s $25,000, OCG will continue its multidisciplinary, hands-on and practical experience in both laboratory and field environments. Participants board an oceangoing research vessel to collect real-time data at sea, conduct field trips and outdoor ecology classes, and engage in practical laboratory research. Students practice problem-solving and solution-finding using field-based and lab-based research. OCG offers an outstanding opportunity to educate young women about the ocean environment and inspire them to assume leadership roles in scientific and engineering fields.
Greater Tallahassee/Gainesville area
Ducks Unlimited received a $38,000 grant for the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Project. The organization is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add 390 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge into the public trust. The property provides important habitat for a variety of waterfowl, neotropical migratory songbirds, wading birds, and a variety of declining plant and animal species.
Franklin's Promise Coalition, Inc.
Oyster Corps was granted $34,000 to support Conservation Corps of the Forgotten and Emerald Coasts crew member certifications, training and field work experiences for strengthening coastal resilience, oyster habitat restoration, and economic diversification through aquaculture. This initiative accomplishes an array of habitat restoration projects such as living shoreline installation (oyster habitat creation), coastal marsh plantings, prescribed fire preparations and project monitoring. Members will receive diversity, equity and inclusion training to support the most productive work environment and career pathways for members, with an emphasis on removing employment barriers for people of color.
Friends of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Inc.
Educational programs to protect the Natural Springs and Manatees of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge received $10,000 to develop interactive educational programs that will show refuge visitors how to protect the aquifer, natural springs, and manatees and conserve the plants and animals in their natural habitats.
Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute
“Clean Spring” signage at Poe Springs County Park in Alachua County, Fla., will use $10,000 to educate park visitors about the importance of responsible recreation at the springs. This project will support Alachua County and the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute and encourage “clean springs.” This includes encouraging visitors to protect native, submerged aquatic vegetation, protect upland plants that have been installed for spring bank restoration, and properly dispose trash while recreating at Poe Springs Park.
Greater Orlando area
Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens will use $25,000 for restoration of imperiled habitat with rare and native plant introductions in Central Florida. This project will protect and restore the biodiversity of the sandhill habitat at Bok Tower Gardens. This will result in the introduction of endangered or threatened native plant species and enhance connection between environmental corridors in the Lake Wales Ridge.
City of Deltona
The City of Deltona received $10,000 to build covered nature viewing stations at parks. These stations will allow visitors the ability to view nature with minimal disturbance and with basic amenities to enhance their experience.
Ideas for Us
Environmental Education received $15,000 to implement The IDEAS Hive’s 2022 environmental programming in Central Florida. The goal is to accomplish 12 publicly accessible sustainability educational events and 12 eco-action events. This will help water quality, water conservation, habitat restoration and forest restoration.
Oakland Nature Preserve, Inc.
Continuation of Restoration at Oakland Nature Preserve supports restoration efforts in the upland preserve. Duke Energy provided $25,000 to support more habitat suitable for the endangered gopher tortoise populations and its anticipated increase in numbers, along with an increased diversity of other animals and native plants.
Trout Lake Nature Center
Trout Lake Nature Center (TLNC) works to educate and connect people with nature. Using technology and virtual programs is an essential part of teaching the TLNC audiences now and in the future. However, TLNC has limited internet capabilities due to its location. The $12,000 grant funds will help obtain a better internet connection, upgrade equipment and purchase software and expertise to improve the website, create virtual programs, videos, workshops, webinars and virtual trails.
West Volusia Audubon Society, Inc.
To promote the principles contained in Douglas Tallamy's book "Nature's Best Hope," the West Volusia Audubon Society will be granted $6,000, which encourages the use of native plants in yards.
Duke Energy Foundation
The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts, and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the foundation and its Powerful Communities program can be found at duke-energy.com/foundation.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 7.9 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 51,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,500 people.
Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities – with goals of at least a 50 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to own or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. The company also is investing in major electric grid upgrades and expanded battery storage and exploring zero-emitting power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.
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