Barbara Sanders Shares Her High Energy and Talent with Florida Oceanographic Society

Barbara Sanders always had her eye on volunteering at the Coastal Center, but when she moved to Stuart in 1983, the timing wasn’t quite right. This Kenmore, New York native worked full-time in real estate for 25 years, and eventually retired to become a caregiver for her mother and her husband David.  When they passed, Barbara was ready to join the Florida Oceanographic Society’s volunteer family.

“I grew up swimming, boating and water skiing on Lake Erie, so I’ve always had a deep love of the water,” says Barbara. “I moved to Riviera Beach after college to help my grandmother while she recovered from an injury and decided to stay in Florida.”

Prior to her career in real estate, Barbara was a probation officer in Palm Beach County. There she met her husband David, who was a judge. They were together for 38 years. Barbara joined the weekly volunteer Green Team at the Coastal Center in 2018 and has given nearly 200 hours of service.

“I’ve always been a gardener, so the Green Team was a great choice,” notes Barbara. “We work hard, and we also have a lot of fun together. I really enjoy my teammates. Lately we’ve been doing a lot of pepper busting, which means removing the berries from the invasive Brazilian Pepper trees on the Nature Trail so they can’t spread. Eradicating them is a constant effort.”  Brazilian Pepper trees were imported to Florida in the late 1880s as an ornamental plant. They have hybridized, and the two Florida species and are hardier and faster-growing than the South American species.

Barbara has hundreds of bromeliads in her garden, which borders the Club Med golf course. She loves sharing the plants with friends and neighbors. During the pandemic, she started kayaking on the local waters. She also completed a large tile mural on her carport floor in tribute to another of her lifelong interests – fishing.  “I love to fish, and I love to share my catch with family and friends,” she says. “One of my favorites is king mackerel. I always keep some to smoke and make into a spicy fish dip.” 

“The Coastal Center is so well-known and respected in our community. Anytime I do errands on my way home from volunteering, people see my volunteer shirt and start up a conversation,” says Barbara. “It’s really such a special place.”

Barbara Sanders Snapshot

Raised in: Kenmore, NY

B.A. in: Sociology

Early career: Probation officer, nonprofit probation program director in Palm Beach County

Fav read: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Talents: Fishing, gardening, tile mural art

Good eats: Anywhere overlooking the water

barbara kayak
barbara tile