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It’s all about Sea Turtles! Do you love our local beaches? Do you have some free time from March through October? Why not join the Volunteer Beach Ambassadors?

What began as a group of 30 volunteers back in 2016 has now grown to over 200 volunteers for the 2023 season. The volunteers are ambassadors for the culture that makes this such a great place to visit and live. Volunteer Beach Ambassador (VBA) Team Leader Peter Mohylsky stated “I am very proud of this team of dedicated volunteers. Everyone is dedicated to working on improving the quality of beach life for those who are full-time residents and just vacationers or part-time residents. The overall impact on the environment along the beach is nothing short of remarkable.”

This group of volunteers greets our locals and visitors along the beaches, scenic bike paths and throughout our community. They are members of the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles (FOSWST), a non-profit organization that promotes sea turtle conservation through awareness and education.

While greeting everyone visiting our beaches, the main job of a VBA is to educate them on beach etiquette and county beach ordinances, specifically those codes that directly impact the preservation and safety of our nesting sea turtles. They also pick up trash, fill in holes in the sand, and flatten any sandcastles/art at the end of the day. The purpose is to work to achieve what we’ve all heard described as #CleanDarkFlat beaches. They are working towards educating the visitors, so they return to their homes safely and come back to our county next year.

There is no requirement on where or when to volunteer. You pick your favorite beach, time and day, and just show up. Students under 18 may also join but must be accompanied by a parent who is also a VBA. Community service hours are logged for each student.
Recruiting is taking place now for 2023. Upon completing a training session and joining the FOSWST ($5 membership fee), you will be provided with a branded shirt and nametag. Training is held in the South Walton Visitors Center’s Conference Room. The next training/signup dates are Saturday, May 13 and 20 from 9:00-10:30 AM.

The VBA Team would like to grow to 300 plus members this year and will be training once or twice per month through August. Those interested should follow Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles on Facebook to see dates and times of training sessions, and email VBA@FOSWST.COM.


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