Lake Worth native Marko Sillanpaa knew of Florida Oceanographic Society growing up, but it wasn’t until he became a Martin County parent that he began to visit the Coastal Center regularly. His four-year-old daughter loves “the fishy place,” so when Marko began looking for volunteer opportunities a year ago, FOS was a solid fit.
“I’m at my computer most of the day working from home, so I wanted to find a place I could volunteer outdoors,” says Marko. “In our visits to Florida Oceanographic, I realized FOS seemed to have fewer volunteers during the summer, so I started as an off-season exhibit guide on Tuesdays. It was there that I learned about research opportunities.”
Marko is part of FOS’ growing Green Team, the group charged with care of the Butterfly Garden, landscape around the Center and more recently, the Shade House. “The Shade House was originally a place to park plants until we found a home for them, but we’ve realized that local homeowners who take advantage of our oyster reef restoration in the waters near their homes are also interested in native plants for their backyards. We’re growing wild coffee plants, grasses and other native species.”
Marko works in enterprise document management, a growing field that involves use of technologies to manage document creation, organization and storage across large companies. He is applying his skills and expertise to help FOS evolve digitally. He is also part of the team working with the Florida Oceanographic’s Director of Scientific Research, Dr. Vincent Encomio, on a joint research project with Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce.
The Coastal Center has become a favorite place for both Marko and his family. The Sillanpaa family also has plans to chase the solar eclipse this summer. “We’re going to start in St. Louis, and then drive to wherever the best viewing sites will be depending on the cloud cover,” says Marko. “I hope it’s one of those trips that will be a great memory for my daughter throughout her lifetime.”
Marko Sillanpaa Snapshot
Alma mater: Florida Atlantic University
Family time: Visits to the beach to picnic and fly kites
Hobbies: Kayaking, biking
Favorite eats: Carmella’s Pizza & Wine Bar
Honors: 2017 Community Spirit Award by global industry group AIIM