The Alabama Coastal Foundation will host a pair of events in Spanish Fort and Auburn this month, beginning with its annual Cocktails for the Coast fundraiser at 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center Thursday, Nov. 14. Then, on Tues. Nov. 19, the Foundation will host Connect to Your Coast at The Amsterdam Café in Auburn, an opportunity for those upstate to learn about the organization’s now statewide mission of cooperation, education and participation.
ACF Executive Director Mark Berte said the organization is celebrating 20 years of environmental advocacy.
“We’re a diverse, non-partisan group that believes in inclusive environmental stewardship,” Berte said. “We try to support everybody else who is working to the benefit of our coastal environment.”
The keynote speaker at Thursday’s Cocktails for the Coast fundraiser will be David Perry, Gov. Robert Bentley’s chief of staff. Harvard biologist and native Alabamian Dr. E.O. Wilson will join the event live via video to accept a Lifetime of Conservation Achievement Award.
Founded in 1993, ACF achieves its mission by focusing on community cooperation, education and participation, Berte said. The organization offers educational curriculum for grades K-12, from its Bay Buddy program that typically teaches those younger than 10 the importance of water quality, healthy beaches, wetland and coastal conservation, recycling and resource conservation while emphasizing the Gulf Coast and its native species, to its Coastal Alabama Service Learning (CASL) Program, which seeks to engage high school students in coastal environmental service projects to help enrich their own understanding of the environment and connect them to academics and professionals in the field.
The organization also actively recruits volunteers for collaborative environmental efforts, like the 100-1,000 Restore Coastal Alabama artificial oyster reef shoreline stabilization project and the EcoTeam recycling effort undertaken during Mardi Gras and BayFest.
Hands-on projects sponsored by ACF include invasive species plant removal, the Alabama Coastal Cleanup and tree and marsh grass plantings. On Nov. 1, ACF also launched its first crowdsourcing campaign, a project to raise $12,000 for the continued construction of osprey nests, some outfitted with live web cameras. Berte said the ability to live-stream wildlife has opened a window to the ecosystem of the Gulf Coast to new audiences.
“It’s really an opportunity to see the birds in a whole new light and understand how they interact with the environment around them.” he said. “People have tuned in from all over the world to watch similar projects.”
Annual memberships to the Alabama Coastal Foundation range from $20 for a student level to $1,000 for patron-level giving. Donations are tax-deductible. More information is available at www.joinacf.com.