Mote Marine Laboratory offers a huge “thanks” to the Longboat Key Turtle Watch for supporting two student scholarships for the Lab’s summer camp programs. Both scholarship positions will be awarded as “The Orville Clayton Scholarship” to honor Clayton, who co-founded Longboat Key Turtle Watch in 1969 and passed away at age 99 on Sept. 4, 2014.

According to the Longboat Key Turtle Watch, Clayton was instrumental in multiple sea turtle conservation measures at the local level and beyond, including the creation of Longboat Key lighting ordinances designed to protect the turtles. He shared with others his respect for nature and the need to protect and conserve our resources.

“Orville Clayton is the reason we do what we do,” said Cyndi Seamon, a volunteer with Longboat Key Turtle Watch. “He set an important example for everyone working to protect sea turtles. It’s natural for us to honor him by supporting Mote’s summer camp programs, which teach students to better understand and protect marine environments. We hope his teachings will be long remembered and his work will be continued.”

“We are so thankful for the generous support of Longboat Key Turtle Watch, which will help more local children attend our summer camps,” said Aly Busse, Assistant Vice President for Education at Mote. “We believe that helping people to learn about our local marine environment will also foster ocean stewardship that is necessary to protect all marine animals – including the sea turtles nesting on our beaches.”

The Longboat Key Turtle Watch has provided scholarship funds to Mote for several years, helping to support the Lab’s world-class marine science education programs for pre-K through high-school students.

The Orville Clayton Scholarships will be awarded annually to two elementary students from Anna Maria Elementary School.

Longboat Key Turtle Watch members also honored Clayton by holding a memorial on April 11 and by purchasing a commemorative brick naming him their “top turtle.” The brick was placed at the Ann and Alfred Goldstein Marine Mammal Center at Mote Aquarium on City Island, Sarasota.

Longboat Key Turtle Watch members monitor sea turtle nesting activity along the northern portion of Longboat Key, under a Marine Turtle Permit held by Mote Marine Laboratory, and they conduct education and outreach. Mote monitors the remaining stretch of nesting beaches from southern Longboat Key through Venice throughout sea turtle nesting season, May 1-Oct. 31.