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Although its 11th Annual Bash for the Bay was canceled due to the COVID-19 social distancing practices, Friends of Rookery Bay virtually gave awards to supporters who would have been honored at the Coastal Treasure-themed event and is sharing a video at rookerybay.org/bash of the presentations.

Myra Janco Daniels served as honorary chair of the signature event that raises funds to support education, research and conservation within the 110,000-acre Rookery Bay Research Reserve, which encompasses 40 percent of Collier County’s coastline. Daniels was recognized as a philanthropic treasure in the community.

The Niki and Clyde Butcher Family received the 2nd annual Lavern Norris Gaynor Environmental Champion Award for the entire family’s efforts to bring attention to environmental issues through art. Clyde Butcher is best known for taking amazing landscape photographs, including many within Rookery Bay Research Reserve. His wife, Niki, has accompanied him on virtually all photographic endeavors. Their daughter, Jackie, runs the business. Their son-in-law, Neal, is Clyde’s darkroom assistant. And their grandchildren, Kayla and Robert, assist with technology and events.

Lavern Norris Gaynor last year received the inaugural award named for her in recognition of her family’s decades of support for Rookery Bay. Her father, Lester Norris, initiated the discussion to preserve the land rather than allow it to be developed. She established the Lavern Norris Gaynor Education Scholarship in 2019 to fund education interns at Rookery Bay. The family’s support continues through her nephew, Phil Collins, whose Philip Norris Collins/William Raveis company was the Presenting Sponsor for the Bash for the Bay. His wife, Kim Collins, was event chair.

“We are so grateful to the Butcher and Norris Gaynor families for demonstrating how multiple generations can work together to advance a cause as important as our environment, which impacts all of us,” said Athan Barkoukis, executive director of the Friends of Rookery Bay. “And we were thankful that someone as philanthropic as Myra Daniels supported our Bash for the Bay. Through our two-minute “Bash for the Bay 2020 Awards & Impact” video, we were able to honor these very special Friends and show our sponsors, guests and other supporters how Friends of Rookery Bay and Rookery Bay Research Reserve work year round to protect 40 percent of Collier County’s coastline.”

Sandra Lee and Reg Buxton were recognized for their leadership in advancing public awareness of Southwest Florida's environmental issues.

Although the Reserve and the Environmental Learning Center are currently closed, “The Outdoors is Always Open” and work continues. Data sondes test water quality every 15 minutes, the education staff is offering virtual learning projects at the Friends of Rookery Bay Facebook page, and preparations are being made to protect sea turtles and their nests from May through October.

Supporters make a difference through membership, selecting Friends of Rookery Bay as their charity beneficiary at Smile.Amazon.com, adopting a sea turtle nest or hatchling, serving as a sponsor of events such as the Classic Car Show on Nov. 14, and making financial contributions at rookerybay.org.

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