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Moving beyond business: Flagler alum tackles conservation through education

May 2, 2016 2:38 pm by: Category: News 5 Comments A+ / A-
Photo provided by St. Augustine Eco Tours.

Photo provided by St. Augustine Eco Tours.

By Julie Householder | gargoyle@flagler.edu

For Flagler College Alumnus Zach McKenna, launching a business in St. Augustine was more than just creating kayak and boat tours for tourists. McKenna wanted his business to help change the way people treated local ecosystems.

“The idea of starting a company without an academic backbone didn’t make sense to me,” said McKenna. “I wanted this component of giving back.”

St. Augustine Eco Tours uses its sailing, kayak and boat tours as a way of communicating science in a hands-on approach. On board the boats, guests are educated on the local environment, and the wildlife that lives here. McKenna explained that they have taken education back to what it was: “learning by doing.”

Tour boats are constantly picking up trash, looking up wildlife in field guides and sometimes even listening to dolphins talking to each other thanks to underwater microphones.

Beyond tours, the company has been researching dolphin populations in the area for the past 10 years. The information the company gathers is especially helpful when learning what human behaviors negatively impact wildlife.

“We have a significantly increasing population and we have a lot of pressure on the ecosystem without a lot of regulation,” said McKenna. “The animals are definitely in conflict with the way recreational and commercial boaters behave out here.”

"We are using these animals as ambassadors to tell the story of conservation through education," said McKenna. Photo provided by St. Augustine Eco Tours.

“We are using these animals as ambassadors to tell the story of conservation through education,” said McKenna. Photo provided by St. Augustine Eco Tours.

Eco Tours responds to animal strandings and does marine wildlife rescues. The combination of research and rescues gives invaluable insight on the current status of the environmental health of the area. This allows the company to be able to use their information as a form of activism. McKenna explained that the company does not hold back from educating the community.

“If there is something going wrong out here, we are typically the company to bring it to everyone’s attention,” said McKenna. “We are not afraid to not make friends because if you ask someone to stop doing something, they’re not going to think favorably of you whether it’s for the good or not.”

McKenna hopes to continue expanding in the future with more education outreach programs with local schools and continue work with Flagler College’s Coastal Environmental Science Department.

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Moving beyond business: Flagler alum tackles conservation through education Reviewed by on . [caption id="attachment_30367" align="alignright" width="400"] Photo provided by St. Augustine Eco Tours.[/caption] By Julie Householder | gargoyle@flagler.edu [caption id="attachment_30367" align="alignright" width="400"] Photo provided by St. Augustine Eco Tours.[/caption] By Julie Householder | gargoyle@flagler.edu Rating: 0

Comments (5)

  • Harry Brown

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  • Sample

    Nice Post, keep sharing like this. wikipedia

  • Plummer

    This blog is really inspirational and has great piece of knowledge I am from an online life experience degree programs website, and I think Flagler College Alumnus Zach McKenna took a great decision to work in Augustine.

  • User

  • Iris

    Well, the company is going a great job! They not only help to make the world better and cleaner but also help children at schools to get to know more about it. Taking care of environment is very important but unfortunately, many people lack the information about it and they don’t know how to take care of the environment. It’s great that there are programs that help students to learn more about it and to understand how they can the world cleaner. It’s such a great business idea! Iris from BestReviewer.

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