Brevard Zoo is a small zoo that does big things. We focus on providing top quality care for our animals, offering unique opportunities for guests to experience nature both on- and off-site, and actively participating with Brevard County Public Schools to develop education programs that serve diverse audiences with authentic learning. Our mission is “Wildlife Conservation through Education and Participation,” and the Brevard Oyster Restoration project team at Brevard Zoo actively follows this mission through the Oyster Mats and Oyster Gardening programs by working directly with the community to actively restore the Indian River Lagoon. Brevard Zoo houses all of the staff and supplies for each project.
Use of Oyster Mats for oyster reef restoration was pioneered by Dr. Linda Walters, of the University of Central Florida, and has proven to be a successful scientific-based restoration technique. Together, UCF and Brevard Zoo deploy these mats into Mosquito Lagoon and monitor progress through research and data collection. University of Central Florida is leading living shoreline stabilization efforts in Canaveral National Seashore and aiming to reduce boating collisions with oyster reefs. Additionally, they will be working with the Oyster Gardening program to build and monitor the first pilot oyster reefs in Brevard County.
Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach is a valuable partner, providing both volunteer support for reef-building in the Oyster Mats program and recycled oyster shells for use in the Oyster Mats and Oyster Gardening programs.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides volunteer assistance and advisement for both the Oyster Mats and Oyster Gardening programs.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection helps with select Oyster Mats program events and provided valuable input into the development of the Brevard Oyster Restoration’s shell recycling program.
Local news leader Florida Today provides advertising to promote the Oyster Gardening and Oyster Mats programs.
Local phone, internet and cable provider Bright House Networks donates cable television advertising to the Oyster Gardening and Oyster Mats programs.
Southeastern SeaProducts is working with the Oyster Mats and Oyster Gardening programs to supply recycled oyster shell from their shucking house here in Brevard County.
Grant Seafood Festival, taking place each spring in Grant, FL, provides recycled oyster shell from their event for use in the Oyster Mats and Oyster Gardening programs.
Limitless Vistas volunteers collect recycled shell from several Orlando-area restaurants for use in the Oyster Mats and Oyster Gardening programs.
The Red Lobster restaurant on 192 provides recycled oyster shell for the Oyster Mats and Oyster Gardening programs.
OYSTER GARDENING PARTNERS
The Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department, along with the County Commissioners, provided $150,000 to fund the Oyster Gardening project. That money has been used to purchase supplies for hundreds of oyster gardeners in Brevard County and hire a small staff to lead the project. The county is actively involved in educating the public about the issues facing the Indian River Lagoon and the steps being taken within our community to provide solutions.
The Eastern Florida State College Environmental Club of the Melbourne Campus seeks to promote environmental stewardship through the service of its members, educate the public on the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem through community outreach, and support the Eastern Florida State College Melbourne Campus in its efforts to pursue and maintain a sustainable environment. The club is fulfilling this mission statement through the countless hours of preparation work its members do for oyster gardening workshops, including cutting wire to create oyster habitats.
The University Of Florida IFAS extension office in Brevard County is partnering with the Brevard County Natural Resources Management Office and Brevard Zoo to teach waterfront property owners about how to get involved with the Oyster Gardening program.
The Florida Sea Grant Extension agent for Brevard County provides educational opportunities and university research-based information on a variety of topics and issues to the citizens of Brevard County. They have partnered with the Oyster Gardening project to help develop the oyster gardening manual.
Modus Operandi is high-tech software company specializing in delivering technology that helps organizations discover the hidden patterns locked in their data. They are helping to develop ways to interpret and present data collected through the Oyster Gardening program.
The hatchery staff at Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart produce all the oyster larvae used in the Oyster Gardening program.
Sorensen Moving & Storage provided trucks and employees to help transport supplies for the building of the Oyster Gardening programs first Brevard County Oyster Reefs!
OYSTER MATS PARTNERS
The Coastal Conservation Association seeks to advise and educate the public on the conservation of marine resources, with the objective of ensuring the future availability for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public. The Orlando Chapter of CCA is a powerhouse for the Oyster Mats program, providing boats and volunteers to help out with reef-building efforts each summer.
The St. Johns River Water Management District is responsible for managing groudwater and surface water resources for all or part of 18 counties in northeast and east-central Florida, including Brevard County and the Indian River Lagoon. The SJRWMD provides funding for the Oyster Mats project through sales of their special Indian River Lagoon license plate, also known as the “snook tag.” 100 percent of proceeds from sales of the tag go directly to restoration and education efforts related to the lagoon.
The Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRLNEP) was established in 1990 and operated with the guidance of an advisory board through February 2015, when the advisory board approved the formation of a new regional council. The IRLNEP provides funding for the Oyster Mats program.
Disney Conservation Fund is a key pillar in Disney’s efforts to protect the planet and help kids develop lifelong conservation values. DWCF provides grant support for the Oyster Mats program and many other projects around the world to support the study of wildlife, the protection of habitats, the development of community conservation and education programs, and experiences that connect kids to nature.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides grant funding to the Oyster Mats program. NOAA offers grants for a wide variety of programs relating to the atmosphere, the oceans, and coastal environments.
Rockwell Collins is a pioneer in the design, production, and support of communications and electronic for the aerospace and defense industries. As part of their corporate responsibility and community involvement philosophy, they operate the Rockwell Collins Community Partnership Fund for charitable giving, which the Oyster Mats program is a beneficiary of.
The Seaworld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund supports species research, habitat protection, animal rescue and rehabilitation, and conservation education projects like the Oyster Mats program.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service works to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People. They offer financial support for programs like Oyster Mats through grants.
The Nature Conservancy helped to found the Oyster Mats project, along with the University of Central Florida and provided essential funding for the program.
Canaveral National Seashore, managed by the National Park Service, and Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service are located along the Indian River Lagoon bordering both Brevard and Volusia Counties. Oyster Mats reef restoration work takes place in the northern portion of Mosquito Lagoon inside Canaveral National Seashore.
Brevard County Parks & Recreation’s Riverwalk Family Park in Rockledge hosts shell drilling volunteer opportunities that prepare oyster shells to be used for making oyster mats. A variety of other Brevard County parks also host monthly mat-making workshops and the occasional Oyster Gardening event.
Marine Resources Council provides opportunities for volunteers to drill oyster shell, which Brevard Zoo uses to build oyster mats.
The students at Cocoa Beach Junior/ Senior High School drill oyster shells for use in the Oyster Mats program.
Effortless Insights provides website support, assists with the analysis of oyster growth and habitat data from gardeners, and helps identify the effects of the program on the health of the Indian River Lagoon.
The City of Satellite Beach has been an instrumental partner in continuing the public education and engagement in the oyster gardening and oyster mats. Through their donation, we have been able to provide regular oyster mat making workshops at the David R. Schechter Community Center.