Mote welcomes new Protect Our Reefs Marketing Manager

Written by: Elsbeth Waskom

Mote Marine Laboratory is pleased to welcome Amy Hernden as Mote’s new Marketing Manager of the Protect Our Reefs (POR) specialty license plate and grants program.

Coral reefs provide a home and support system for a diverse group of marine life. Sadly, this ecosystem is in danger due to both natural causes and harmful human impacts. Mote administers the POR specialty license plate and grants program to raise funds for research, development of restoration methods and educational programs to support the well being of coral reefs.

As the Marketing Manager of the POR specialty license plate, Hernden will reach out to the public and work with county tax collectors to raise awareness for the license plate and programs.

She will also lead Mote’s Ocean Fest, a family-friendly educational event to celebrate the vibrant marine environment of the Florida Keys. For more information as details become available visit

Hernden is no stranger to Florida. She grew up in Bradenton, Florida and lived in Jacksonville, Florida. She has worked for other nonprofit organizations including the Jacksonville Humane Society and Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. She also worked for Gate Hospitality Group as a Member Relations Manager and recently, as a contract marketing and communications specialist.

Hernden earned her Bachelor of Science in Communication at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Her love of animals and marine life drives her passion for organizations like the humane society and Mote. She is excited to contribute to the Lab’s outreach through Mote’s Protect Our Reefs program.

How did you hear about Mote?

I was raised in Bradenton, so I remember taking field trips and visiting Mote during my elementary school days. When I moved from Jacksonville to the Gulf area, I was ecstatic to find Mote was hiring!

Why are you passionate about protecting our reefs?

I have always loved the ocean, swimming and anything that involves the water or marine life. I've snorkeled small reefs before, but went scuba diving for the first time last fall and was completely mesmerized by the massive ecosystem around me. It was incredible to see how everything seemed to revolve around the reefs. Knowing how reefs positively affect fishing, tourism and even the air we breathe, I can't imagine losing such a precious resource - now or for future generations.

What do you look forward to most with your new position and what goals do you have for it? 

As the Protect Our Reefs Marketing Manager, I am particularly excited to help spread the word about what the public can do to protect our reefs even if they don't snorkel or dive. Knowledge is power and taking the time to engage the public - whether during a Tax Collector promotion for our specialty reef plate or at Mote's Ocean Fest in the Keys - is crucial for our program.

I love spotting our reef plates while driving, and it's my goal to grow relationships with county Tax Collectors to see that number increase. Every plate sold gives an annual donation directly for coral reef research and restoration. Restoring coral reefs drives me, and I want to share that drive with everyone. Do you have your reef plate yet? If not, you can visit

If anyone has questions, they can contact me at 941-388-4441 ext. 257 or by email at