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Octifest a good cause on the Causeway

By Staff | Mar 22, 2012

Sanibel Sea School will celebrate six years on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva with its annual Octifest on the Beach a fundraising tent party at 6:30 p.m. March 31 on Causeway Island A. Guests will be able to enjoy a gorgeous Southwest Florida sunset and music along with a gourmet local and sustainable dinner, all for a good cause.

“The Octifest is an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the ocean,” said Dr. James Bruce Neill, co-founder of Sanibel Sea School. “It brings the community together. This year’s Octifest will integrate the ocean with fun and science.”

Proceeds from Octifest benefit scholarships to Sanibel Sea School and help bridge the gap between tuition and the cost of the programs for all students who attend the school’s programs. The sea school has been dedicated to teaching children and adults about marine ecosystems. Using the barrier islands’ habitat, students gain an opportunity to touch, feel and understand their natural surroundings.

“We try to create programs for people to enjoy the ocean for a lifetime,” said Neill.

Sanibel Sea School’s programs cover all that encompasses marine ecosystems animals, people, plants, land, ocean and weather and foster a sense of wonder in regards to the marine world. Students are left eager to learn more and enthusiastic about practicing good ocean stewardship that will change the way they live.

Neill and his wife Evelyn founded Sanibel Sea School with the mission to improve the ocean’s future one person at a time. After 20 years as a successful advertising writer, Evelyn turned her desire to communicate about nature and conservation into a calling. Bruce’s fascination with birds in high school led him to obtain a degree in zoology, which was followed by master’s degree in the biology of coral reefs and eventually his PhD from Montana State University. Together, Bruce and Evelyn, realized their dream of a school that teaches children about the ocean.

“It’s been a phenomenal six years,” Neill said. “We’ve been fortunate to form a partnership with PACE Center for Girls (in Fort Myers) and to have watched our youngest students grow up. Some are going off to college.”

Octifest principal sponsors, People United to Restore our Rivers and Estuaries (PURRE) and Lily & Co., will be the key ingredient of a grand prize adventure that involves floating coconuts, glow sticks and bobbing wishes cast into the ocean.

“We will be selling painted coconuts that will have a number. They will be released to help study the ocean’s currents,” explained Neill. “The first coconut found will be a grand prize winner.”

Other live auction highlights include a two-hour floating cocktail party aboard the Sanibel Thriller; Doc Ford and Doc Bruce a boat trip with Neill to lunch with Sanibel author Randy Wayne White at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille on the wharf at Fort Myers Beach; and The Sanibel Sea School Powerwashing Team: the scientist blasters will clean your house or dock.

Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 dedicated to a world in which all people value, undertand and care for the ocean. There will be opportunities to contribute, as well as learn about the school. To find out more about Sanibel Sea School, visit sanibelseaschool.org and look at what is done each day.

Tickets to Octifest on the Beach are available by calling Dina at 472-8585.