Mote Aquarium’s rebirth will offer SEA of opportunities for students
In 2018, we announced our plan to create Mote Science Education Aquarium (Mote SEA)—a rebirth of Mote Aquarium in Nathan Benderson Park that will enrich our community with a transformative hub of science education and economic impact. Back then, Mote SEA was a vision—albeit a thrilling one. Now, through intensive efforts and a growing wave of generous support, this vision is approaching the cusp of a reality we’ve all hoped for: A cultural jewel where science is the attraction and science education is for everyone—including learners underrepresented in scientific fields.
In 2019, our Mote Family of Staff and Trustees made exciting, tangible progress—selecting the Mote SEA construction-management team of Willis A. Smith Construction and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, refining the architectural design of Mote SEA and securing Sarasota County’s formal agreement for 12 acres in Nathan Benderson Park, a nexus for multiple Florida counties. However, the true star of the past year has been our developing plan to serve students and teachers across our region and state.
Mote’s leaders and stellar Education staff are arranging to offer 65,000 students from Sarasota and Manatee county schools access to free, annual, education opportunities via three STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teaching labs at Mote SEA, focused on marine ecology, biomedical research and ocean technology. No-cost student programs at Mote SEA will have an estimated value of $3.5 million—that’s exciting, but the greatest benefits go beyond any number. With hands-on STEM experiences led by Mote educators and scientists, state-of-the-art scientific equipment available to all students and teachers, enhanced school curricula, an Educator Resource Center, and free-of-charge visits to Mote SEA for the families of students in Sarasota Title-1 schools, the vast educational value of Mote SEA is essential to realize.
By May-to-June 2020, we hope to share more finalized designs for Mote SEA along with exciting news about the acceleration of our $130-million fundraising effort to create the facility, Oceans for All: Improving Access to Marine Science & Technology. This campaign, primarily focused on philanthropic, public and corporate support, advanced significantly when Sarasota County commissioners voted unanimously in January 2020 to commit $20 million for Mote SEA—complementing ongoing philanthropic giving, whose exciting momentum we will share this spring.
As we pursue our next major goal—to break ground by the end of 2020—we are increasing our communications with State of Florida leaders regarding the benefits Mote SEA will offer to the Sunshine State overall, while exploring the potential for exhibit-related partnerships with our regional corporate community and continuing to celebrate our supporters, including our exclusive group of high-level, Mote SEA Explorer donors.
Our community will realize benefits of Mote SEA long before construction begins; Mote Trustees are combing their own resources to offer six new, competitive Mote SEA Trustee College Scholarships open to marine science-interested students entering their first year as undergraduates—reminding us that the spirit of Oceans for All is already here, now.
Mote SEA Explorers
Thank you to these visionary donors who have committed $250K or more to Mote’s Oceans for All Campaign:
Daniel E. Offutt III Charitable Trust
Edwin T. Meredith Foundation
Robert and Anne Essner
Perlman Family Foundation
Edward D. and Anna Mitchell Family Foundation
Ryan & Maureen Martin
James and Christina Price
Wayne and Grace Rickert
Steinwachs Family Foundation
Hobart and Janice Swan
William G. and Marie Selby Foundation