Sanibel Sea School's annual fundraiser, Octifest, is held under a tent on Sanibel's Causeway Island A. 

Sanibel Sea School's annual fundraiser, Octifest, is held under a tent on Sanibel's Causeway Island A. 

Sanibel Sea School’s annual fundraiser, Octifest, was held Saturday, April 8th in a big top tent on Causeway Island A. The event was attended by more than 200 guests, and raised funds that will support ocean outreach programs, provide scholarships to students in need, and help the 501c3 non-profit organization purchase important equipment for its field-based classes and camps.

Funds raised at Octifest make it possible for students from schools like Manatee Elementary to attend Sanibel Sea School's programs.

Funds raised at Octifest make it possible for students from schools like Manatee Elementary to attend Sanibel Sea School's programs.

“We are so thankful to be supported by such a generous community,” said the Sea School’s Development Director, Chrissy Basturk. “It’s wonderful to live in a place where people are passionate about taking care of the ocean and making meaningful learning experiences available to everyone.”  This year’s event raised more than $245,000, a 15% increase over last year, which will make it possible for Sanibel Sea School to grant additional scholarships and provide ocean education to even more kids in 2017. 

Deb Szymanczyk, Kyle and Christine Szymanczyk, Mary Lou Bailey, and Renata and Patrick Bailey support ocean education for all at Octifest 2017. 

Deb Szymanczyk, Kyle and Christine Szymanczyk, Mary Lou Bailey, and Renata and Patrick Bailey support ocean education for all at Octifest 2017. 

“We partner with a number of schools and partner non-profits throughout the year to offer learning opportunities to underprivileged children in our region,” said Basturk.  “We receive so many requests from teachers, parents, and others who want to join forces with us, and we make every effort to say yes. The money raised at Octifest is going to help us share the magic of the sea with lots of children this year.”

Guests at Octifest enjoyed sunset views. 

Guests at Octifest enjoyed sunset views. 

Sanibel Sea School’s educators have already started to deliver the good news to groups and individuals who have requested scholarships to attend the organization’s programs in the coming months. “I called one teacher last week to schedule a field trip for her class before the school year ends, and she couldn’t wait to tell her students,” said Director of Education Nicole Finnicum. “There are so many kids in our area who live close to the sea, but hardly ever get to learn about it in a hands-on way,” she added. Finnicum also said that she is looking forward to replacing broken and worn-out equipment like masks and snorkels, surfboards, and life jackets – all essential items for ocean exploration and enjoyment.

Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more, visit sanibelseaschool.org and octifest.org

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