Grant: 16-013E
Project Title: Sea Turtles and Us: Our Past, Present, and Future Together
Project Manager: Melissa Kendrick
Organization: Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society (Non-Profit Organization)
Grant Amount: $18,500.00
Completion Date: 2022-05-05

Summary: The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum will conduct a new educational project entitled Sea Turtles and Us: Our Past, Present, and Future Together. This project provides a comprehensive look at the impact that humans have had, are having, and can have on sea turtles. Interpretive panels, hands-on interactive stations, and a mobile mini-exhibit will educate and motivate people to engage with the environment in ways that positively support sea turtle populations and habitats. The educational exhibit will feature interpretive panels that integrate the story of the turtle fishing industry (past) with the stories of conservation (present) and turtle population recovery (future). The interactive learning stations will engage visitors and provide opportunities for long-term change. The outreach programs will extend the impact of the project beyond the walls of the museum with a mobile mini-version of the exhibit that will include pop up panels mobile interactives for use in schools and at community events.

Results: We renewed the Key West Turtle Museum taking it from a pure history of the Sea Turtle Fishing Industry to an environmental conservation educational facility located within a historic structure. We designed the fresh look and feel for the gallery and followed through with the design to the mobile-mini exhibition. Work to create interactives both electronic and not that would engage all ages. When pricing for the museum signage and exhibition panels were received in excess of the project budget, we decided to fabricate the exhibition in-house. That reduced costs to supplies and materials. Museum staff wages were not billed to the project, instead we absorbed the costs as our cost-share. We have attached the exhibition panels and mini-mobile panels to this report. A revised survey/feedback form was created for visitors to the museum and for those interacting with the mobile version. We actively sought out festivals and events where we could make the connection to the ocean environment. Staff accompanying the traveling version found this to be especially rewarding as general audience members repeatedly indicated that they were unaware of many of the core messages included in the program. Within the Key West Turtle Museum, the transformation was amazing. With the addition of the materials to host activities for children, families, and adults. We have hosted many events where we collaborated with several Keys area groups volunteers, professionals, and governmental agencies. Groups like the Sea Turtle club consisting entirely of volunteers were pleased to have access to our facility to advance their mission. Our ongoing relationship with Florida Fish & Wildlife and The Turtle Hospital has allowed us to grow from an isolated presenter to a neighborhood partner. As use of the facility has grown, we found new ways to use the facility including making it the home for our Summer Camp and family activities.