A molecular biologist by trade, volunteer Laura Elsenboss has spent nearly 150 hours in the last year engaging visitors at Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center’s touch tanks. Sharing marine science with guests of all ages is work she loves, and it builds on her previous experience as an exhibit guide at the Waikiki Aquarium in Hawaii.
“This is an interesting volunteer role for me,” says Laura. “I like learning about the local marine life, and I really enjoy interacting with our visitors. The education we provide here lays the groundwork for their engagement and advocacy.”
Laura and her husband are long-time outdoor enthusiasts. The couple retired from Connecticut to the Stuart area in 2014, and then spent the next eight months bicycling on a 6,000-mile cross-country trip that took them through the northern Midwest and ended in San Diego. They camped their way back to Florida over the rest of the year, tackling U.S. Fish & Wildlife trail volunteer projects along the way.
Laura’s career in the pharmaceutical industry spanned nearly 24 years, and included a year-long stint in Hawaii. After retiring, her plan was to seek outdoor volunteer opportunities that would draw on her science background and interest in community education. She’s found her niche with Florida Oceanographic Society.
“As a volunteer, I want to be challenged and use all of my skills. The opportunities to get involved with FOS have been a great fit with my skills and interests, and my desire to support environmental stewardship in my community.”
Since starting in the spring of 2016, Laura’s been involved with oyster shell bagging, the Lights on the Lagoon event, and crafting oyster-shell angel ornaments for sale in the gift shop over the holidays. She’s given marine science presentations at the nearby Hutchinson Island Marriott, a partnership that delights the resort’s visitors while also increasing awareness of the Coastal Center and its mission of environmental stewardship. This year she also plans to expand her role within the Coastal Center’s Education Department by helping with school groups that visit the Coastal Center.
“The education the Coastal Center provides for young visitors is so important – it sets them up for lifelong learning and interest in the marine ecosystems around us,” notes Laura. “And, kids impact their parents’ thinking and behavior. I’m hopeful that our education and outreach efforts can make a difference for families as well as in the larger community.”
Laura Elsenboss Snapshot:
Family ties: Husband John, 7 grandkids across the U.S.
Favorite flicks: Titanic, Star Wars saga
Hobbies: Biking, cooking all kinds of cuisine
Famous for: Halloween 2016 cardboard Starfish costume
Latest project: Building and stewardship of Treasure Coast YMCA’s new Little Free Library