Grant: 17-024E
Project Title: Sea Turtle Conservancy's Statewide Lighting Workshop: Code Enforcement, Planners, Builders, City/County Officials
Project Manager: Rachel Tighe
Organization: Sea Turtle Conservancy (Non-Profit Organization)
Grant Amount: $9,600.00
Completion Date: 2019-12-16

Summary: The Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) has been conducting beachfront lighting workshops in the Florida Panhandle since 2015. These workshops are designed to educate code enforcement personnel, architects and planners who are on the front lines at the county level in the effort to reduce problematic beachfront lighting. Due to the success of our Panhandle lighting workshops, STC will host 12 lighting workshops for code enforcement and planning professionals throughout the Florida peninsula. The training workshops focus on the why, where and how surrounding the issue of artificial light and its impact on sea turtles. More importantly, the second half of the workshop goes into detail on what to do about it. A 1.5 hour field component is included as part of the course to demonstrate how to visually inspect a problematic property at night and make recommendations about sea turtle friendly fixtures and bulbs that can fix specific problematic lights. Two workshops will take place in each of these six regions of Florida: Southeast region, the South region, the Southwest region, the West Central region, the East Central region and the Northeast region. Two experienced members of STC’s lighting team will plan, advertise and travel to conduct these workshops around the state. At each workshop, a pre- and post-survey will be administered to each participant in order to gauge how much the participants learned.

Results: Sea Turtle Conservancy’s (STC) statewide lighting workshops for code enforcement, building professionals, architects and engineers were successful. In total, STC conducted 11 lighting workshops along the Florida peninsula and one workshop in the Florida Panhandle educating 179 people. The workshops trained personnel to observe lighting violations and provided them with effective solutions to help darken sea turtle nesting habitat. The workshops also prompted dialogue between diverse stakeholders (city and county officials, architects, builders, and lighting professionals), allowing them to network and form meaningful relationships. STC created and published a condensed, online version of its sea turtle lighting workshop during this reporting period. The three sections of the workshop are available on STC’s YouTube channel. Because viewers can access the videos at any time for free, code enforcement officers and building professionals will not have to wait to attend an in-person workshop to learn about sea turtle lighting. This video is the first of its kind in Florida and will allow for even more code enforcement officers and building professionals to learn about the issue of sea turtles and lighting. In addition to the test and feedback survey, STC wanted more ways to determine the impact the workshops were having on how Florida’s code enforcement officers and building professionals carried out their jobs. In April 2018, STC emailed 152 former workshop attendees to see what changes they implemented, if any, after attending STC’s workshop. STC has received a few responses. An architect who went to STC’s Miami workshop in December said she shared the information about sea turtle lighting with her colleagues the same day. “I disseminated the knowledge from your workshop to my colleagues (engineers) and provided them with the brochures you had available that day,” she said. “We will certainly reference those resources for future beachfront property designs.” A Satellite Beach code enforcement officer who attended STC’s Cocoa Beach workshop in June 2017 said his department did not take indirect light into consideration when issuing violations to properties. After he attended STC’s workshop, he said he “adjusted” the department’s level of enforcement to include indirect lighting. STC hopes to receive more responses like this from attendees in the future, as they indicate how STC’s educational efforts are darkening Florida’s beaches by educating this important audience. STC intends to track the impact of its online workshop by recording video views, comments, and detailed analytics from YouTube. STC plans to update the online workshop as we receive feedback from viewers to ensure that the information is up-to-date.