Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, TECO and The Florida Aquarium Open the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center
TAMPA, April 12, 2016
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) proudly opened the first official building at the Florida Conservation and Technology Center (FCTC) with their partners; Tampa Electric (TECO) and The Florida Aquarium. The Suncoast Youth Conservation Center (SYCC) is a 6,000-square-foot building with indoor and outdoor classroom space that will serve as the educational hub for the FCTC.
“The strong partnerships among these groups have resulted in a great win for Florida’s youth and its fish and wildlife resources,” said FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski. “This new center will help with the important mission of connecting our kids to the wonders of wild Florida.”
The SYCC will be the newest, marine-focused center that is part of FWC’s much larger statewide network of youth conservation centers, the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN). Youth and family programs will provide saltwater fishing opportunities and kayaking excursions through the mangroves of Newman Branch Creek and into Tampa Bay. Marine and coastal education programs focused on science-based natural resource management will help youth discover the wild and wonderful side of Tampa Bay. Age-appropriate programs that meet Florida's educational standards will be made available during the school year, and fun-filled summer day camps will showcase Tampa Bay’s fish and fisheries and the science and research being conducted in the area. The Florida Aquarium’s education programs will also use the facility during both their school year and summer camp programs.
“We are excited to partner with FWC and TECO on this amazing project,” said Thom Stork, president and CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “This new education building will help us transform the way we educate our youth by providing real, hands-on experiences that will foster the imagination and open the minds to the wonders of marine science.”
The Florida Conservation and Technology Center is estimated to be completed in three to five years. In addition to the Manatee Viewing Center, guests can already experience a 1.4-mile walking trail through portions of the 500-acre property and a 50-foot wildlife observation tower featuring scenic views of Apollo Beach. Future plans for the center include Tampa Electric’s Energy Technology Center to showcase cutting-edge energy options and a Sea Turtle Hospital, where The Florida Aquarium will care for and rehabilitate rescued Sea Turtles.
“This center will be such a unique destination – a blend of environmental education and cutting-edge energy technology,” said Tom Hernandez, Tampa Electric’s vice president of Energy Supply. “Thanks to our strong partnership, this will become a year-round attraction the whole community can enjoy.”
About The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution whose mission is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship about our natural environment. It is ranked as one of the best aquariums in the country and “top 5 kid-friendly aquariums” by Parents Magazine.
The mission of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is to manage fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people. The FWC protects and manages over 575 species of wildlife and more than 200 native species of freshwater fish and 500 native species of saltwater fish. FWC’s Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network works with partners to provide youth and families safe, memorable outdoor experiences that inspire lifelong support for fish and wildlife conservation.
About Tampa Electric
Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, is part of the TECO Energy family of companies. Tampa Electric serves nearly 725,000 customers in West Central Florida. TECO Energy Inc. (NYSE: TE) is an energy-related holding company with regulated electric and gas utilities in Florida and New Mexico: Tampa Electric, Peoples Gas System and New Mexico Gas Co.