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Marti Pounder at the Riverside Arts Market in Jacksonville, Florida. An avid Save the Manatee Club volunteer, Marti can be found there on many Saturdays, sharing information on manatees with Arts Market visitors.

By Janice Nearing
Director of Public Relations, Save the Manatee Club

Just a relatively short drive from her home in Jacksonville, Florida, manatee advocate and Save the Manatee Club volunteer, Marti Pounder, finds a place to park on a busy Saturday at the Riverside Arts Market. Once she arrives at a designated table amongst the other exhibitors and nonprofits at the popular community marketplace located under the Fuller Warren Bridge by the St. Johns River, she methodically unpacks the materials she has brought with her. Carefully arranging brochures, manatee fact sheets, kid’s coloring books, and all other manner of manatee education literature on her table, Marti is ready to meet and talk to the curious passersby who stroll over, eager to learn more about Florida’s manatees.

The Arts Market is just one of many events Marti signs up for as a Save the Manatee Club volunteer. She handles this one solo, volunteering seven of her Saturdays in a five-month period. Fueled by her desire to make a difference in the world around her, Marti, whose family roots are close by in Savannah, Georgia, gets active often.

The SMC volunteer gang at Turtle Day in Volusia County. (l-r) Marti Pounder, Doug and Debra Brown, and SMC Public Relations Director, Janice Nearing.

Since adopting a manatee for a family friend and also joining the Club’s volunteer program in 2008, Marti has staffed a manatee education table at the Marine Science Center’s "Turtle Day" in Volusia County, the Florida Manatee Festival and Refuge Week Celebration in Crystal River, and the Blue Spring Manatee Festival in Orange City. In addition, Marti has worked at numerous Jacksonville events, including River Celebration Day, the Northeast Florida Veg Fest, Science Night at Jacksonville Beach Elementary, the Water Education Festival at the Museum of Science and History, and, for three years in a row, Earth Day at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Marti has also given manatee presentations at the Ribault Garden Club in Atlantic Beach and Girl Scout camp in Ocala.

“When I first received an e-mail from the Club asking for volunteer help at an event here in Jacksonville, I jumped at the chance,” says Marti. “I love the St. Johns River – I live close to it – so I’m interested in everything about it. I’m also very aware of the high number of watercraft-related manatee fatalities here, and I find it so very tragic. I am honored to be part of Save the Manatee Club – an organization that is made up of people who truly care about what they do. They constantly inspire me to help.”

Marti is also an avid supporter of the St. Johns Riverkeeper, is active with the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library, and participates in the catch, neuter and release of feral cats in Jacksonville.

Others who wish to generously offer their time to help the manatees, please consider joining the Club’s volunteer program. We need you! Perhaps your passion for joining will be the same as Marti’s. “Our beloved manatees,” she quietly reflects, “My heart belongs to them.”

Fueled by her desire to make a difference in the world around her, Marti, whose family roots are close by in Savannah, Georgia, gets active often. Above, she staffs a Save the Manatee Club education table at the Gambles Rogers Music/Memorial Celebration at Gamble Rogers State Park in Flagler County, Florida.

Sign Up to Volunteer!
You can help manatees by becoming a Save the Manatee Club volunteer. SMC volunteers staff tables at manatee-related events, engage in speaking presentations, help out in the SMC offices, write letters and send e-mails on issues of concern to manatees, and report information to manatee researchers. YOU can make a difference for manatees!

Interested? Get a description of volunteer positions and fill out our online volunteer application form.

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