Leadership St. Pete to enhance Clam Bayou Marine Education Center • St Pete Catalyst

Thanks to the Leadership St. Pete (LSP) in 2022 the Clam Bayou Maritime Education Center will soon receive much-needed improvements to make the institution more comfortable and attractive to students and children of the area.

LSP recently announced the launch of its latest class project called “Waves of Inspiration”. 53etc. A class of community leaders has chosen the Clam Bayou Maritime Education Center as an annual project and plans to improve the center’s appearance and its wide open spaces.

The facility, run by the USF College of Marine Sciences in partnership with the city of St. Petersburg, offers educational and community programs to inspire young people to participate in environmental issues and ocean conservation. Located in South St. Pete, the center also hopes to promote careers in science, engineering, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for low-income communities and annually serves more than 100 local teachers through professional development programs.

The 2022 LSP class will complete renovations to the center in May. Photo courtesy of usf.edu.

“The goal is to really create comfortable places for kids who are trying to study outdoors in the sun all day,” said Lindsay Patty, chair of the 2022 LSP class. “They can enjoy the outdoors and just connect to different spaces – it’s a pretty big property and there are a few spaces, but they’re not connected.”

The LSP is considered one of the oldest leadership programs in America and is a grant to the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce’s nonprofit fund. The LSP’s mission is to recruit and develop leaders representing the city’s diversity to take on future leadership roles.

Patty said it is an honor and privilege to lead a group of 39 leaders through such an intensive six-month program. In just the first six weeks, Patty said class members are already networking with each other and the various community leaders involved in the program.

The LSP Planning Committee, made up of alumni volunteers, opened a request for proposals to public nonprofits last summer to identify potential class projects. Over the next few months, the committee narrowed down proposals to three nonprofits that affect the community and need. Class members then hold discussions and site visits, and vote on which project they want to take.

“We are always looking for a project that can actively involve 35-40 people, regardless of qualifications in construction,” said Patty. “Thus, the scope of the project is a large amount of painting, gardening, cleaning and possibly construction furniture.

“There is a lot of good capital in the classroom …”

Patty said hundreds of children pass through the Clam Bayou Maritime Education Center each year, and the main facility is a donated home. She said the surrounding open area still resembles a backyard house with lots of concrete, little shade and minimal landscaping.

LSP Class 2022 plans will offer shaded picnic tables as a deferment from the sun in Florida. They will also present more landscaping and complete walkways that attract children from one space over a wide area to another.

Petty noted that in a city like St. Pete, which is surrounded on three sides by water and little undeveloped land, it is important to promote environmental protection.

“For many of Klam Bay’s educational programs, they can live just a mile or two from the water, but never see it,” Patty said. “They don’t have the ability to go beyond their immediate home and school.”

Patty said having a place where children can go into the water, collect samples and learn about the ecosystem helps help spark their interest in environmental science. She said the goal of the center is to improve the curriculum for children in a real-world setting, and handed over reports of students making careers in STEM fields because of the positive experience at Clam Bayou.

As a community leadership program, Patty stressed the importance of having LSP classes return to their community each year. She said classroom projects also give participants the opportunity to test their learning.

Patty called it a big project with lots of moving parts, and the association to organize and raise a significant amount of money and awareness is part of the class experience. The Planning Committee and the program chair set the task and completion date, and goal accomplishment depends on the class. So the design team is still working on the final details of the project.

“It’s part of their processes,” Patty said. “Work with the organization, find out the wish list, find out the budget and what we plan to collect, and then be able to achieve it.

“It’s a really hands-on classroom leadership experience, as well as a significant project for the nonprofit organization and community.”

Patty said the class expects to complete the center’s improvements in May. For more information, visit the website here.

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