PHOTOS: Nest Fest soars with scores of supporters

Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation  chairman Carl Way speaks to the gathering. MESF held Nest Fest Sunday evening at the Art League headquarters on Winterberry. The meeting and wine tasting focused on raising money to protect the eagle habitat at Tract K. Lance Shearer/Special to the Eagle

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation chairman Carl Way speaks to the gathering. MESF held Nest Fest Sunday evening at the Art League headquarters on Winterberry. The meeting and wine tasting focused on raising money to protect the eagle habitat at Tract K. Lance Shearer/Special to the Eagle

— How do you ensure a great turnout for your fundraiser? A hot button local cause, and an elegant, familiar venue are a great start. Throwing in wine and hors d’oeuvres doesn’t hurt, either.

The Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation held an inaugural Nest Fest on Sunday evening at The Art League Marco Island’s Center for the Arts headquarters on Winterberry, to a packed house. The event focused on raising money to protect the eagle habitat at Tract K.

More than 100 people spread their wings to learn more about why eagles are an essential part of the fragile ecosystem of Marco Island. Most importantly the evening focused on protecting land known as Tract K, where a pair of eagles are nesting.

“We have a great turnout tonight,” said Carl Way, chairman of the Marco Island Eagle Sanctuary Foundation. “We basically arranged this event in 45 days, and this whole event was to create founding members.”

When May moved to Marco Island just shy of a year ago from Washington, D.C., he was quickly approached to lead the fledgling non-profit organization, which now boasts more than 30 founding members, who all made financial pledges covering 27 percent of the Foundation’s five-year budget.

“Our financial goal is between one and three million dollars to secure it,” said Way. “The property is not for sale now, but again, our job is to get it ready for the vote.”

Getting it ready for the 2012 election for islanders to vote on what they want the property used for, means his committee will have to secure 1,200 signatures for a referendum.

“Our long term goal is to buy the property or create the funding, and have it available to give it to the City of Marco Island to continue it’s use as a conservation area,” added Way.

Presentations took flight with an eloquent welcome speech by Linda Turner, an original Marco Eagle Sanctuary founder. She introduced speakers Randy McCormick, the environmental manager of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve; Dr. Gerald Swiacki, Marco Eagle Sanctuary PAC president, also serves as the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation vice chair; Carl Way, chairman of the Sanctuary Foundation, and Linda Boston, an original MESF founding member, presented recognition and appreciation to all involved at the conclusion of the evening. Every presentation offered insights into possibilities of development of the eco-park followed by a enthusiastic round of applause from audience members.

For Katrina Canady, a 30-year resident of Marco Island, and a founding member of the Eagle Sanctuary, her role on the foundation is to help children on Marco Island know the critical role of the eagles.

“It was an opportunity for me to work with children, and we designed a ‘Name the Eagle’ contest for elementary school children. The foundation thought it would be great for children to name the eagles. They are going to have the Student Council pick the names, and the contest will be during this month of May,” she said.

“Living on the island as a kid, I remember walking from Tommie Barfield to see the eagles as a field trip,” Canady recalled. “The island is very developed now, and it would be nice for kids to see this again.”

Donna Kahn, a MESF volunteer agreed with Canady. “I love the eagles. I want more green space, too. They are way behind with protecting these birds. I was very excited to volunteer tonight. So many people turned out tonight, and we had so much fun doing it,” said Kahn.

Following the lively presentations, Linda Boston distributed photos of a stoic eagle photographed by Dennis Goodman to everyone in attendance, and recognized the event organizers and Eagle Watch volunteers from the Audubon Society. She also thanked contributors for their continued support of MESF.

Photographer Dennis Goodman donated several of his eagle photos, and Nicole deBusman, on behalf of the Arlington retirement home, donated the wines for the event.

Five lucky founding members also had a chance to win one of five framed prints at the conclusion of the First Annual Nest Fest.

If you would like to learn more about the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation, go to

With additional reporting by Lance Shearer.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 6

blondie writes:

Bravo! Finally a story about people doing something positive for Marco rather than complaiing or arguing issues on opposite sides. I truly hope this program "takes flight" and continues to be a means of bringing Marco Residents together in a common cause.

MarcoDefender writes:

This is pathetic. Prioritizing eagles over children. Why don't the other eagle nests on this island have equivalent advocacy by this organization? There's an easy and obvious answer, and it's not as noble as it appears.

Ocram (Inactive) writes:

Marco Defender,

What is the matter with the concept of "CHOICE"? It appears that when something is not your "CHOICE" it is pathetic. Did it ever occur to you that the eagles were here before you and will be here long after you? There are other "CHOICE" properties to be had, now is the time to look into those other properties.

MarcoDefender writes:

Oc - Appears you have again, avoided answering the question.

Ocram (Inactive) writes:


As I said above the answer is all about Choice. Too bad, this time, the choice was not yours.

lauralbi1 writes:

MarcoDefender, et al: Their Petition will not be the only one on the Ballot next year. There will also be a Neighborhood Buffer Amendment Petition Drive starting soon.
This Amendment (to the City Charter) will require a 300' Buffer Zone between any Public or Charter High School and a residentially used lot (single or multi-family). This Amendment is designed to define the Buffer already called for in the Marco Island Comprehensive Plan filed with the State of Florida.
I am certain that after passage of that Amendment, the Eagle Sanctuary will live on and continue to protect the Eagles and their nets, irrespective of the fact that no School will be able to be built there anyway.
By the way, we are starting the process shortly and welcome your assistance. We are not against a Charter High School, we just want to make certain that a decent Buffer Zone exists to protect our neighborhoods from noise, cars, traffic, vagrancy, etc. That is why the Buffer was specified in the first place in the Comprehensive Plan.
Ed Issler

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