This morning in honor of Earth Day 2019, The Ohana Institute unveiled INVASIVE, the Lionfish.

This event was Free and Open to the Public

This sculpture is a real community effort -

Rosemary Beach, the Seaside Institute and Ohana Institute collaborated to bring attention to the problem of single-use plastics and offering ways we can be better stewards of our oceans and earth as a way to celebrate Earth Day!

Informative educational programs are the goal of the Seaside Institute.  In 2018 one of Seaside’s programs, Washed Ashore,  was attended by the Rosemary Beach Sculpture Committee.  The Seaside Neighborhood School and the Ohana Institute were invited to participate in follow-up programs.

 The Seaside Institute Chair, Victoria Lee, says the teaching workshops purpose, sponsored by the John and Carolyn Peterson Foundation and the Seaside Institute benefiting both schools, was to foster understanding and raise the consciousness of our younger generation. Washed, Education Consultant, Patrick Chandler provided training to instructors on developing environmental and science curriculum and integrating art to engage the students.

 The RBSE committee was intrigued by Washed Ashore’s use of marine debris crafted into sculptures to depict the issue of plastics in our oceans. During the planning of the 2019 Exhibition, the team thought it would be a great idea to include a marine sculpture to further increase support addressing our ocean’s plight.

Ohana Institute Founder, Lettye Burgtorf was invited to participate and the response from Lettye and her staff, Julie Martin, Visual Arts instructor and Mike Sturdivant, Science instructor was amazing…

“The Ohana Institute is excited to participate in the Washed Ashore marine plastics program”, saidOhana’s Mike Sturdivant. “We are thankful that the Rosemary Beach Sculpture Exhibition Committee shares in this passion for protecting our marine environment and for inspiring health-promoting behaviors. The program is designed to increase awareness and promote individual responsibility regarding the problem of single-use plastics accumulating in the marine environment. Cultivating awareness of our opportunity to personally impact and improve our shared world is one of our primary goals at the Ohana Institute.”

 “For our sculpture, we have chosen to display a Lionfish. The Lionfish is a particularly beautiful fish, brightly colored in contrasting red and white stripes. It sports fantastic spines and has flowing sails on its extended fins and tail. The image of a Lionfish displayed on the Rosemary Beach grounds will surely attract attention from passersby. Awareness is the first of our goals.”

 “After being lured by the beauty of the Lionfish, viewers will be stung with the contrast of the ugly discarded plastic material. Up close, it will become apparent that single-use plastics accumulate and remain in our environment virtually forever. This contrast is important. The dissonance experienced by seeing a thing of beauty and then also experiencing disgust primes the mind for learning and action.”

“The Lionfish is a particularly interesting sea creature to portray. Lionfish have venomous spines. They decimate populations of important reef fish. They have no known predators in Florida waters. So, why use the Lionfish to promote conservation? Simple. The Lionfish is an invasive species. Plastics are invasive to the ocean environment. People are responsible for plastic pollution. We are rapidly jeopardizing the marine environment and our own health. Unprecedented in the rest of the animal world, humans are becoming our own invasive species.”

  “Our Lionfish sculpture displayed in Rosemary Beach will educate, inspire, and facilitate personal behavior changes that can benefit humanity and the ocean we all depend upon.”


 Tom Kramer, RBSE Project Director, reports that this year the Rosemary Beach Sculpture Exhibition will be significantly enhanced. INVASIVE will continue to be displayed throughout the Sculpture Exhibition which formally opens May 24, 2019, and ends February 14, 2010. The RBSE Committee chose from a stellar number of submissions. 53 artists from all over the US and Europe submitted 77 works for consideration, 16 of which will grace the greens and parks of Rosemary Beach.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Victoria Lee at 850-363-8854 or email:

Rosemary Beach Sculpture Exhibition © 2018, P.O. Box 611321, Rosemary Beach, FL 32461. The Rosemary Beach Sculpture



$9K Raised for Hurricane Michael Relief

SEASIDE — After Hurricane Michael destroyed communities along the Emerald Coast on Oct. 10, the Seaside Institute started a Hurricane Michael Relief Fund to help those directly affected by the storm’s devastating impact.

The fund has raised nearly $9,000 to date, $7,500 of which will be donated to the Sonder Project, according to a news release from the Seaside Institute.

Since Hurricane Michael made landfall in areas such as Lynn Haven, Mexico Beach and Panama City, organizations along the Emerald Coast have focused their efforts on providing supplies, support and recovery efforts to those who were directly affected. The Sonder Project, a global non-profit organization based out of Santa Rosa Beach — with a mission to strengthen communities through food security, clean water, housing and education — has focused their efforts to provide hurricane recovery.

The money raised from the Seaside Institute Hurricane Michael Relief Fund will help the Sonder Project rebuild homes and support the project’s Secret Santa program, providing Christmas gifts to families impacted by Michael. The remaining money raised by the fund will go directly to families personally identified by the Seaside Institute based on the basic necessity of housing, food, clothing and transportation, the release said.

The Seaside Institute will continue to raise funds through the Hurricane Michael Relief Fund. Those interested in making a donation can donate online at, or by mailing your donation directly to the Seaside Institute, Attention Hurricane Michael Relief Fund, at P.O. BOX 4875 Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459.

Introduction of the 30A Alliance Advisory Board

We are pleased to welcome the members of the newly formed 30A Alliance Advisory Board:

David Everett (Alys Beach), Christopher Chadwick (Draper Lake), Billy Buzzette (Grayton Beach), Dr. Mary Zahner (Rosemary Beach), Mark Wey (Seaside), Randy Carroll (Watercolor), John Lebowitz (Watersound), Cindy Stenberg (The Association, a property management firm representing 14 communities), Moe Stouse (Coastal Seniors of South Walton) and Daniel Alstenzer (Florida State Parks).

The 30A Alliance Advisory Board is an apolitical group of local emissaries who will assist in an advisory capacity to the Seaside Institute Board of Governors. Their collective voices will provide input to our programming and events, assistance with developing solutions to issues that affect our communities along the 30A corridor. Their perspectives will assist in creating solutions that will work in tandem with our environment. The inaugural meeting of the Advisory Board will take place January 18, 2019 at the Rosemary Beach Owner’s Club.

Each 30A Advisory Board Member brings a special skill set and perspective to the mission of the Institute. We are grateful for their commitment and welcome them as vital additions to our team.