by Captain Sandy Melvin
It is an honor and a pleasure for me to mention the significant role LBC played in our Kids Tarpon Tournament this year. My planning committee was glad to select Lemon Bay Conservancy (LBC) as the official Conservation Sponsor for our 4th annual Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Fishing Tournament held on May 17th on Boca Grande. We selected LBC because of their many significant conservation and educational achievements at Wildflower Preserve. Their programs such as the ongoing Baby Tarpon Research, water quality testing and restoration efforts and plans to improve the critter habitat.
Fortunately again this year, LBC Member, Mick Aslin generously donated $1,500 to sponsor four local kids to fish in the tournament representing LBC. We appreciate the LBC board committing to manning a booth at the downtown festival, and I understand several new members signed up. Although we had to cancel the fun fishing portion of the tournament due to dangerous weather conditions, prizes were awarded to all participants. It was my pleasure to present LBC President Jim Cooper with an $8,600 donation check from our charity foundation. These funds will enable LBC to further develop new educational conservation programs for STEM middle and high school students in our off-island local schools using Wildflower Preserve as a model outdoor field laboratory.
We are all very encouraged by LBC’s outstanding efforts this past year working with both adults and school children in educating and promoting habitat restoration, protection for baby tarpon and snook, and for their work to minimize harmful nutrient runoff into the ponds, and their program of water quality testing in the saltwater and freshwater ponds.
Beginning this year, I am pleased to announce the establishment of the $1,000 Elsie Bracken Environmental Scholarship as a part of our donation to be awarded in the name of Elsie Bracken.
Elsie Bracken was a loyal LBC member, an island resident and held the record for the most tarpon ever caught, by a woman over 1,000!
We look forward to working with LBC as our Conservation sponsor again next May, as we grow and expand this exciting and rewarding Kids Tarpon Fishing Tournament.
Captain Sandy Melvin
Chairman, Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament