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

 

Kendra Cope, M.S.

President and 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.

Megan Lynch

Director 

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Megan recently retired as a senior talent management executive specializing in the hospitality industry, with global and domestic experience in human resources management, direct marketing and consulting services. Megan is a long time Vero Beach and Orlando resident and has spent many years following a passion for wildlife preservation and the rescue of animals. Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the CCInc. Leadership team to help further the strategic goals and to continue to drive the growth of the organization.

Kim Sonderman, M.S.

Director

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Kim Sonderman is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to the research and conservation of sea turtles in the southeastern United States. As the Director of SERSTN, Kim has led her team in hosting biennial scientific conferences for government, university and NGO scientists to share their sea turtle-related research. Prior to her work with SERSTN, Kim worked as stranding coordinator for the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where she was responsible for the recovery of stranded and injured sea turtles throughout the state of Florida. Earlier in her career, she was employed at the North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine as a veterinary technician in the Large Animal and Avian and Reptile Medicine Services, as well as an assistant Zoo Keeper at the Greensboro Natural Science Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. Kim has served on several professional and educational boards in her local community and outside of Georgia. In addition to forming SERSTN, Kim worked with a team of dedicated women to co-found Women in Motion, a group dedicated to introducing women to the sport of triathlon and encouraging women of all ages and ability levels to get active. Kim attended Portland State University in Oregon, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She earned a Master’s of Science degree in wildlife biology from the University of Georgia. Kim lives in Roswell, Georgia with her husband and children where she is active in Girl Scouts and enjoys kayaking on the Chattahoochee River, camping, hiking, running and competing in triathlons.

Advisory Board

Mari Shiel - 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.