Grant could could boost support at Gumbo Limbo

By Steve Plunkett

Educational field trips to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in coastal Boca Raton may continue despite the school district’s budget having no money for them.
In June, Palm Beach County School Superintendent Art Johnson advised Boca Raton City Manager Leif Ahnell that ‘’we will no longer be able to fiscally support our Gumbo Limbo personnel.’’
That didn’t sit well with the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which helps operate the nature center in partnership with the city, the school district, Florida Atlantic University and the nonprofit Gumbo Limbo Nature Center Inc.
“I want to see the educational component of Gumbo Limbo continue,’’ Beach and Park Commissioner Earl Starkoff said at an Aug. 16 discussion of a one-time $100,000 grant to pay instructor John Hargis’ salary and benefits.
The nature center offers programs on coastal animals and plants, life in the hardwood hammock and lagoon life. The field trips are designed to meet Sunshine State standards for third, fifth and seventh grades.
Beach and Park District taxpayers already spend $700,000 a year on Gumbo Limbo, mostly on salaries for marine conservationist Dr. Kirt Rusenko, seven other full-time employees, three part-time employees and three seasonal staff.
The district and school superintendent are negotiating details of the extra $100,000 grant.
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