Friends of Tigertail celebrates 20th anniversary
In 1996 a group of Marco Island friends walked on Tigertail Beach daily. Enamored with the natural beauty of the beach, they picked up trash along the way and befriended the park ranger, Janet Sellars. Through Sellars’s tutelage, the group learned about the area's wildlife and threats to the delicate surrounding habitat. Sellars encouraged the group to form an official organization to protect and enhance the natural features of the park. This group became Friends of Tigertail, which incorporated on March 30, 1998.
Friends of Tigertail celebrated its 20th anniversary with a party at Gene Sarazen Park on March 19, 2018. The group reminisced about its history while enjoying cake and hors d’oeuvres. Current board president, Linda Colombo, spoke on the organization's recent activities, and two founding members, Betty Rosa and Ed Jakeway, shared their memories from the group's early days.
Other founding members include: Gleana Jones; Len Messineo; Diane Moore; Regina (Jeanne) Reiley; Bob Rosa; Janet Sellars; Nancy Sineni; and William Zabriskie.
Friends of Tigertail now has more than 200 members with a stellar record of education, service, and protecting and enhancing the park for all to enjoy.
As part of its effort to educate the public, and especially the next generation of beachgoers, Friends of Tigertail provides Conservancy summer camp scholarships to Tommie Barfield fourth graders who write the best essays related to local ecological issues. The organization also hosts two educational programs, the annual “Discover Tigertail” and the bi-annual “Breakfast and Birds."
Over the years the Friends have worked hard to protect and preserve the park, and have had many successes, including:
- Eliminating the use of fenthion, a mosquito control chemical that's dangerous to birds.
- Altering the schedule and equipment utilized for invasive beach raking, which depletes wildlife food supplies.
- Banning holiday fireworks displays.
- Supporting a compromise to avoid excessive vegetation removal from the beach.
Friends of Tigertail also conducts quarterly community beach clean-ups, collecting thousands of pounds of debris.