Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Batfish Bash Brings Out the Best for Our Bay

 

 

By Steve Gimmestad

steve@coastalbreezenews.com

March 14 couldn’t have had a more perfect evening. A golden sunset gave way to a star filled sky and the nite was soon filled with music, laughter, the clinking of glasses and a feast prepared in your honor. Too good to be true? Not if you were one of the 220 attendees at the 6th Annual Batfish Bash at Rookery Bay Learning Center. This was an evening about those who support the tremendous efforts to preserve, study and teach others
about a local treasure that is uniquely ours. Its full name is the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Its mission is to provide a basis for informed stewardship of estuaries in Southwest Florida through research and education. Part of this is accomplished by a group known as The Friends of Rookery Bay (FORB). This was their night to step up and have some fun all towards supporting the goals of The Reserve. Thanks to a bounteous array of donations by caring individuals, groups and businesses, guests at the Bash were able to bid for prizes which included, but hardly limited to, weekend getaways, boating excursions, diving adventures, works of art, vacations, fishing trips and even a weekend in New England. The list of items was long and distinguished. This night, however, was about the guests; the people who support the Reserve in so many ways. So why do they it do it? “Why? Because I feel very lucky that the people here ahead of us had the foresight to preserve this pristine environment,” said Chris Guminski. “We’re just glad to be part of that.” Chris and her husband Rich have been Friends of Rookery Bay for two years and this was their first Bash. They appreciate Captain Randy who can pick almost anything up off the ground from anywhere, and tell you a story about it. The sunset tour of the full moon is one of their favorite
experiences. The feast was prepared by Service by Jordan out of Naples and it was, indeed, a delight in taste and service. Gary Lytton, Reserve director, gave a quick appreciation address as dinner ended. “Our funding has been significantly reduced due to budget constraints over the past several years. We could not continue our work if it was not for all of you. You really make a difference.” Chris Lombardo then conducted the live auction. Whether it was Gary’s message, or the fact that Chris threatened tounleash a squadron of angry mosquitoes if bidding wasn’t fast and furious, but the live auction was a boisterous success. The night was capped off with music by Girl Meets Boy band and a lot of dancing. Which was perfect, because this evening was indeed, a celebration. This year’s Batfish Bash raised $134,000! That’s $34,000 more than last year. The Bay has some amazing Friends. Included in that amount is $21,000 (more than twice last year’s amount) raised for the Fun-A-Need Program to renovate and expand the field station, classroom and lab. If you enjoy the beautiful settings shown in some of the accompanying photos, it is possible to rent the facility for your conference, group and event weddings. Be sure to call ahead and make arrangements. Rookery Bay depends a great deal on the support of so many people. But the work they do, and the services they provide, give back tenfold to those who donate so much. To learn more about Rookery Bay, the Batfish Bash and all else this group can do, stop by for a visit to the Learning Center just off Collier on Tower Road. The website also has a great deal of information: rookerybay.org.

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