About Us

Learn More About what we are About
 

Our Story

Coastal Connections, Inc. was founded in 2017 to provide opportunities for people to create a connection with coastal wildlife. The Founder, Kendra Cope, noticed a need and want from the Indian River community to provide interactive and educational programs that contribute to the protection of sea turtles and their coastal habitats. She found an amazing group of dedicated and motivated women to start CCinc and give back to our environment. CCinc and its numerous volunteers pride themselves on being innovative and having the ability to integrate and communicate science and conservation initiatives to diverse audiences. It’s this quality that makes CCinc truly unique among Florida sea turtle conservation and environmental protection organizations.

The Problem

The Treasure Coast is home to many coastal environmental gems including high density nesting beaches, the Indian River Lagoon, and various natural and artificial reefs which are important for recreational and commercial fishing enterprises.  However, these ecosystems have become stressed as the area develops and the human population rises.

Danger to Sea Turtles

There are many threats to sea turtles and their habitats including light pollution, plastic and general litter, and improper human use of beaches. Part of Coastal Connections Inc.’s mission is to continue this successful recovery by connecting more people to wildlife.

Plastic Pollution

Here in Vero Beach, plastic waste is found in the stomach of practically every turtle investigated by Coastal Connections. As a community we cannot ignore this plight. Our seas cannot absorb our plastic waste and our marine life cannot digest it and remain healthy.

 

A Lagoon in Distress

The Indian River Lagoon is the most biodiverse estuary in North America. The largest threat to this 156-mile body of water is the reduced water quality from non-point source pollution, man-made hydrologic distribution, loss of habitat, and an increase in invasive species.

The Solution

 

Sea Turtle Experiences

We use education and guided sea turtle interactions to minimize threats like light on the beach and plastic debris. We also promote new human habits that will not negatively affect the environment, and conduct cleanups to reduce the amount of litter.

Photo © Joe Rimkus Jr.

Plastic Reduction Programs

Coastal Connections, Inc. is working hard to spread awareness about the harms of single use plastic on our coastal ecosystems, provide eco-friendly alternatives for them, and guide the public on how they can make simple life changes to reduce their plastic footprint.

Save The Lagoon

To restore the IRL’s water quality we are working every angle: litter cleanups, stormwater pollution education, living shoreline restoration including oyster recycling, removal of invasive species, and all around promoting the health of the Lagoon.

Photo © BLV Marketing

Board of Directors

 

Sherri Davis M.B.A.

President 

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Sherri has been involved with the sea turtle program for Indian River County since 2010. She attended the University of Missouri and has a Master’s degree in business. After retiring from the corporate world in management of UPS, she moved to Vero Beach, Florida where she found her true passion in sea turtles. Sherri continues to dedicate her time to the research, preservation and conservation of sea turtles and their habitat. She comes to Coastal Connections with years of experience in planning and management and brings her enthusiasm to the goals of Coastal Connections along with her desire to help protect our sea life and ecosystems.

Celeste McWilliams

Vice President

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Celeste's fascination with sharks initially brought her to study at Florida Tech, but her love of the warm weather and sea turtles are what kept her here!  She is the Naturalist at the Brevard County Barrier Island Center, and is involved in sea turtle education and research with multiple local organizations.  In her spare time, Celeste enjoys scuba diving and photography.

 

 

Lori Miller M.E.

Treasurer

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Lori Miller is the Refuge Ecologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service working across the Southeastern US and Caribbean. Her education includes a Bachelor's degree in meteorology from the University of St. Thomas and a Master's degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida. As a meteorologist, Lori has worked in marine, tropical, aviation, and television meteorology. In 2002, she joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and transitioned into hydrology and water management. Lori joined U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008 and began a career in aquatic restoration, environmental engineering, water resource planning and management, and climate change. She was awarded the national Person of the Year in Climate in 2014 for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the national Individual of the Year Environmental Leadership award for the Department of Interior in 2015.

Board of Director experience includes Vice President of Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance (LOWA) in 2005-2008 and Treasurer of the Missouri Floodplain and Storm-water Managers Association (MFSMA) in 2007-2008.

 

 

Barb Grass

Co-Secretary

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Barb Grass-Public Safety Officer with Indian River Shores and former Fire-Medic of IRCFR. I am currently finishing my degree in Emergency Services. I am a native Floridian and a nature lover. I also am a volunteer with the Indian River County Sea Turtle Program for the past 6 years. In my spare time I enjoy the beach and outdoor adventures. My hope is to enlighten others to care about mother nature and all her creatures.

Lisa Moreland

Co-Secretary

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Lisa and her family moved to Vero Beach four years ago from a small town in Western New York called Wellsville. Lisa received her BS in Elementary and Special Education from Keuka College and her Masters in Reading from Alfred University. She was a teacher for many years in NY before moving to Florida. Lisa decided not to teach in Florida as it was a huge transition for her family but found over time that she wanted to become involved in something where she could meet new people and where she would be able to make a difference in her new community. Lisa began volunteering with Coastal Connections over a year ago and found a true passion for sea turtles.

Kendra Cope M.S.

Founding Director

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Kendra has been involved with sea turtles, marine life, and our Vero Beach coastal habitats since 2015. Her Master’s degree is from the University of Central Florida where she was part of the Marine Turtle Research Group for three years during her studies specializing in the economic and behavioral impacts of sea turtle tourism conducted around the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. She loves encouraging her team of turtle volunteers, and spending her time with them on the beaches.

Advisory Board

Mari Shiel - Marketing Advisor
Penny Tranchilla - Marketing Advisor
Becky Vickman - Marketing Advisor
Chris McGuire - Community Advisor
Laurie Connelly - Community Advisor
Kate Maingot - Fundraising Advisor
Todd Hopkins - Scientific Advisor
Quintin Bergman - Scientific Advisor
Cori McWilliams - Youth Advisor
Olivia Lazorik - Youth Advisor

Accomplishments

New Partnerships & Funding

We are proud recipients of a NEP grant to fund our new Shuck-N-Share program and the Endless Summer License plate funding to grow and enhance our cleanup effort. We have also added a number of new partnerships!

CCinc Storefronts

We successfully opened our second boutique storefront. Please visit both locations – inside One Sotheby’s Real Estate at 1006 Beachland Blvd. or inside the Purple Plum in the Indian River Mall.

WINNER of Environmental Awareness Award

In 2019, we participated in the Vero Beach holiday parade and took it by storm. Our float was made from 85% recycled debris from beach cleanups and became the “Trashiest” float in the parade. Because of our innovative idea, CCinc was awarded the very first Environmental Awareness award which has become a new category for future parades.

Connect With Us Today!

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A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free (800-435-7352) within the State. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the State.