SARASOTA: An all-woman lineup of local science professionals delivered a fast-paced immersion in the economic, environmental and public health consequences of climate change for a group of sixty prominent women leaders from Tampa on Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota.
The special program, called “Climate: The Times, They Are A Changin’,” was coordinated by the Climate Council of Sarasota-Manatee, a program of the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida (SEC), at the request of the Athena Society, a Tampa organization that supports equality in education and career advancement for women.
The Society’s current President is Betty Castor, a former state legislator, Commissioner of Education and President of the University of South Florida. She said the focus of professional women speaking directly to other professional women presented clear and compelling information that Athena Society members can share in their own professional and personal networks.
“The program strongly engaged our members in learning and thinking about this critical issue, globally and locally, and each of us left with ideas and direction for solutions we can advance in our own sphere,” Castor said.
The speakers and panel discussion focused on the impacts of climate change on the natural and built environments, the food supply and human health, as well as solutions that individuals, communities and industries can implement. Speakers included an architect, a physician, a plant geneticist, and a marine ecologist. Event co-organizer and Athena Society member Penny Parks said of the workshop, “They rocked it out of the park! I can’t tell you how many people told us how incredible the event was! The best ever we were told.”
It was a “very welcome invitation” to reach an influential network of community leaders, said Jennifer Shafer, co-executive director of the Science and Environment Council.
“It’s our hope that the Athena Society members who attended the event will be inspired to become informed and vocal advocates for science-based policies that mitigate the effects of climate change on our region and state,” Shafer said.
The Athena Society presented the SEC with a $1,500 donation to support the work of the Climate Council, a facilitated network of climate professionals that will advance regional understanding of climate change and support planning and projects to adapt to changes in climate and sea levels.
About The Science and Environment Council
The Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida is a consortium of 34 science-based environmental organizations and government agencies in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The SEC’s mission is to enhance science-based education, conservation and restoration in Southwest Florida.