October 3, 2018

Contributed
West Marine Islamorada will host the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center at 11 a.m. Saturday, as part of its community outreach initiative. The wild bird center's Moody, an Eastern screech-owl, may visit the store as its educational ambassador.

Contributed West Marine Islamorada will host the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center at 11 a.m. Saturday, as part of its community outreach initiative. The wild bird center's Moody, an Eastern screech-owl, may visit the store as its educational ambassador.

ISLAMORADA — A month of Saturday activities have been planned for October at West Marine Islamorada. The boating and on-the-water retailer is filling its weekend roster with community programs to share local expertise.

The store’s outreach includes working with local fishing guides and organizations to offer free seminars.

“West Marine is dedicated to being more than one of the largest retailers of boating products and services,” said Laura Barry, director of marketing and communications at West Marine. “We’re committed to being a resource for information, education and advice to those who enjoy time on and around the water in communities across the country.”

A longer-running event at West Marine Islamorada is the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots “Fill the Boat” program. The national Toys for Tots program collects toys to distribute to underprivileged children during the Christmas holiday.

“This is a great event to be a part of and we are hoping for a huge turnout. Instead of being a toy collection site, we want to fill an entire boat,” said the store’s event coordinator, Sheryl Anderson. “That would be so many toys to give to kids, it’d be great.”

On Saturday, Oct. 6, the Islamorada store will host a visit by Tavernier’s Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center.

The partnership will allow the wild bird rescue’s staff to share their knowledge about the local environment and the role both native and migratory birds play in it.

“We are bringing our event tent with information on the bird center, some of our inhabitants and sponsorship information. We may bring an ambassador bird if they want to cooperate,” said Jordin Budnik, who was recently appointed executive director of the bird center. “We’re probably bringing Moody, an Eastern screech-owl.”

Moody is one of three ambassador birds at the center. He’s about 5 years old and was a victim of a car strike. The other bird ambassadors are Luna, a female Eastern screech-owl about the same age, and Aria, a merlin falcon.

“Our community at large matters to us. It always has in the 30 years we’ve been around as a nonprofit,” Budnik said.

West Marine will host the Dolphin Research Center on Oct. 13, the Forgotten Soldiers Outreach program on Oct. 20 and Capt. Greg Eklund, an Islamorada fishing guide, on Oct. 26. Most events begin at 11 a.m.

Anderson said collaborative efforts with other organizations are in the works for later this year.

West Marine Islamorada opened its doors in June as one of the brand’s 250 stores in 38 states.

The 10,000-square-foot store is located at 81984 Overseas Highway on Upper Matecumbe Key. For more information, visit westmarine.com. For more information on its community programs, find them on Facebook under West Marine (Islamorada, FL).

tjava@keysnews.com