Wakulla Environmental Institute

The aroma of artisan coffee clings to the air as local businessmen and women in chinos, and oystermen and women in blue jeans and T-shirts, stare intently at power point projection.

Tallahassee Kicks Off Sustainability Conference

Mar 22, 2016
Stephen Nakatani/ flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/snakphotography/5037094847/

Community leaders, researchers and business owners are converging on Tallahassee this week for a conference on sustainable living.

Tallahassee Community College is facing a potential lawsuit over its new oyster program at the Wakulla Environmental Institute. In a statement announcing the intent to sue, former WEI student John Taylor of Sopchoppy says TCC has not upheld its end of the program.

Local citizens gather at the Woodville Community Center
Nick Evans

Tallahassee Community College’s Wakulla Environmental Institute hopes to train a generation of future park rangers, and they believe a tract of land on the west side of Wakulla Springs State Park could be the perfect classroom.  The nearly 2,000 acre parcel includes Cherokee Sink, a popular swimming hole closed in 2009. 

oyster cage on boat
Mark Warner via Flickr

Large-scale oyster farming is about to take hold in Florida with the state’s approval of dozens of aquaculture leases Tuesday. Environmental officials hope growing the bivalves in cages takes pressure off the struggling wild oyster industry in the Florida Panhandle.

Tuesday’s vote by the Florida Cabinet marks the first time the state has zoned a large area for oyster farming—70 acres of Wakulla County’s Oyster Bay. Of 38 plots available, just under half have been leased for the next decade to hopeful farmers.

Paul Clark via Flickr

Tallahassee Community College’s proposal to sublease part of Wakulla Springs State Park for its newly formed Wakulla Environmental Institute has been met with some opposition. The Florida Department of Environmental Education will host a workshop Tuesday to hear public comment on the issue.

R.Benk / WFSU-News

    

A quarter of a million dollars doesn’t seem like much for a state that has an almost $80 billion budget. But, one particular environmental school has its fingers crossed, hoping Governor Rick Scott approves its relatively tiny small appropriation. It’s money the school’s officials say could help save a $71 million Florida industry.

Bob Ballard carefully swings open the door to a large room and flips on the light switch. Half of the area’s space is taken up by thousands of cylindrical oyster cages – stacked passed the room’s large windows and touching the ceiling.

Tallahassee Community College

Tallahassee Community College is taking its classes outside. This year the college begins construction on the new Wakulla Environmental Institute. Construction of the Institute’s Crawfordville campus should begin this Spring, but environmental classes are already offered online. And when it opens next year, the institute’s executive director Bob Ballard says classes are just a part of what it’ll offer.