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Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Environment, Fisheries Resources, Marine Science & Oceanography, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Sports, Technology

Mission: To conserve marine water ecosystems for their recreational, commercial, and intrinsic value by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine water enthusiasts to become active stewards and citizen scientists. REEF links the diving and snorkeling community with scientists, resource managers and conservationists through in-water marine-life data collection and related activities.

Results: • Celebrating 20 years of marine conservation efforts at REEF Fest in Key Largo, FL • Surpassing the 175,000th survey for the Volunteer Fish Survey Project • Launching a new survey region in the Carolinas and Georgia: South Atlantic States • Providing data to researchers supporting better understanding and protections for ocean habitats and the creatures living in them • Expanding the Grouper Moon Education Program and bringing our research to life through live-feed video chats

Target demographics: protect ocean populations, engage divers and snorkelers in the water in citizen science, and educate the public about the marine conservation issues,

Geographic areas served: worldwide

Programs: the REEF Volunteer Survey Project, invasive species research and control programs (including the invasive lionfish in the waters of the western Atlantic), the Grouper Moon Project (studying one of the last spawning aggregations of the Caribbean iconic species the Nassau Grouper), and free education programs.

Community Stories

80 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

5 Dennis44

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Having just suffered a tremendous blow to its physical plant and by those who both work and live in the immediate area (Key Largo, Fl), I can not think of a nonprofit that could use a boost in its moral more than REEF. This organization and more so the people who work and volunteer for it are some of the best people in the world. I have been a member some 16 years now and volunteering for REEF has changed my life. REEF deserves this recognition, especially now.

Previous Stories
3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began my diving when I was 47 years old, the year was 1998. As it soon became apparent to me I was going to become a Master Diver I took the fish ID specialty course. In this course this not for profit organization, REEF was mentioned. A little while later I took my first REEF trip with Paul Human the current Director of REEF and one of its founders, in Pueto Rico. I have never looked back. Seventeen years later 600 dives and 400 Reef surveys later I alomost plan my life around REEF trips. I have done almost 24. The trips are all over the world and the diving is fantastic. Learning the fish for an area is fun but it is the fellowship of the other like minded divers and leaders that is the best! On top of all this I get a comfortable warm feeling in my heart Knowing that in my own small way I am doing something to help save our planets oceans!!!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an excellent nonprofit that benefits scientific research while educating the general public. They offer free education to all interested individuals. They increase awareness while promoting protection of the oceans we all share.

3 Marie80

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Phenomenal organization! Doing things for the Ocean that not many others can or will do! Great diving organization too!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I heard about Reef a couple years ago and was impressed with how they were using volunteers to both increase our understanding of the oceans by scientists and to enhance the appreciation of the oceans by other divers. I started doing reef surveys about a year ago. I find that not only do I feel good about helping the scientists but I have greatly increased my understanding and appreciation of the great diversity of the oceans. I am now seeing all sorts of ocean life that I did not notice before. I am passing this appreciation on to others through the photos I post online which have a number of followers.

2 Alison45

Volunteer

Rating: 5

REEF has been honest and committed to their cause since inception. They have some very knowledgeable people on staff and as volunteers. Their findings are used by several serious science organizations, and therefore REEF is contributing directly to ocean conservation.

The trips are fun and informative, linking divers of like mind and spirit.

2 Peter74

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with REEF.org for 10 years now and their knowledge, education program and staff have consistently been A+...

3 Jeff133

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been an active supporter of REEF for over 8 years and am currently on the way to join them as a volunteer conducting surveys on Saba. The educational materials and free online seminars have been a great resource of knowledge invaluable to me as a scuba instructor and underwater photographer.

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been to a number of REEF events, from their lion fish derbies, to their jewelry workshops, and even their annual REEF Fest and can honestly say there is not a harder working, more passionate, fun loving, all around genuine and fantastic group than the REEF staff and volunteers. I am so impressed with what they are able to accomplish world wide while having such few people and so many projects. I highly recommend all ocean enthusiasts to pursue this non profit and just get to know their mission.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

REEF is an amazing group of people who do truly meaningful work. They spend the extra time to get to know each member and it really came across at REEF Fest, when so many old and new friends gathered to celebrate ocean conservation. Their database is extremely useful to scientists and policy makers as well as recreational snorkelers and divers, and their invasive lionfish research program does amazing work. They don't only hold events related to ocean conservation, but they also make it fun and bring together a community of like-minded fishy people.

I truly believe that the work REEF does is exceptional, and they have an equally outstanding team making it happen. I will always support REEF and cherish my time there!

4 Jan_83

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a great organization teaching people about the reef and how to protect our ocean. My husband and I learned about the importance of eradicating lionfish from them and have been pulling lionfish out of the ocean as much as we can now. A great organization.

4 Park C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

REEF conducts ground-breaking research in the field of marine science. The governments of the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas have enacted legislation protecting Nassau Grouper populations based on REEF's work. The Lionfish project is making a difference in the control of an invasive species in the Atlantic.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I have been volunteer members of REEF for almost twenty years. She was seven when we joined, and became a certified junior diver at ten- In great part due to the fun we had together as REEF members & volunteers. Avid snorkelers, and divers, we love diving with a purpose. Our favorite "self-challenge" is to see how many species we can identify on outing; always trying to better ourselves! Best Part of REEF? The workshops and events hosted; on an ongoing basis. Fish identification seminars, lionfish round-up, and social gatherings where we have had the opportunity to bond with like minded fish enthusiasts; to name a few. BONUS of volunteering with REEF? Supports related environmental causes & influences environmental policy.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been doing fish surveys for REEF for a couple of years and enjoy really "looking" at the fish I see while diving. I find that I spend extra time watching behaviors of the fish, too. I took my first REEF trip this past spring and it was amazing...jammed packed with diving, identifying, and educational seminars, with a top-notch, knowledgeable group leader!!! It is great fun being a citizen scientist with this wonderful organization.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My 20 year old daughter has been a member of REEF since jr. high school! What a wonderful educational group to help those interested in the fields of marine research to learn so much. After years of posting surveys as a young diver, trust me invertebrate biology is a snap in college! Thank you for all you do REEF!

1 Kimberly123

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hello. I am a diver, and REEF educational group allows for this sport to continue exploring REEFS, keeping the oceans safe for marine life and divers. Educating our children to care for our oceans is necessary to continuing life on our planet while educating those who help keep the ocean's balance ecologically. REEF is amazing!
Jacksonville, FL
Kim Habermehl

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My life was changed when I became an active REEF surveyor. I am a better diver, and a better educator - this group is first rate.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was thoroughly impressed with the staff and interns at Reef Environmental Education Foundation. I recently attended the Lionfish Derby in Key Largo, hosted by REEF, and was not disappointed by their knowledge and friendly demeanor. REEF is going above and beyond to raise public awareness and education about the impacts of the invasive lionfish, working hard to get the public involved in hand- on learning and participation in getting lionfish off local reefs. In addition, REEF is doing extensive work with fish identification surveys worldwide to get a more comprehensive dataset of marine fishes. Lastly, I learned that REEF offers an internship to young individuals wanting to get experience in non-profit work pertinent to marine conservation. I commend this group for giving an opportunity to young people to get a well-rounded learning and work experience to boost their career. Good job to Reef Environmental Education Foundation for all their efforts to get more people actively involved with and educated about marine conservation. We need more groups like them in the world!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

My husband and I took one of REEF's very first fish ID courses in 1993, and it changed our lives. As we continue to count fish and support REEF, we have become more and more impressed by their focus, specificity, and high effectiveness. For example, REEF's special projects are targeted--such as protecting the breeding of mass-spawning fish, and eliminating invasive lionfish--and have made measurable differences for the people affected (in the Atlantic basin, countries that rely on tourism), and their data are remaking science. I also love the fact REEF's data are available to all, and that significant institutions (like NOAA, fisheries around the world, and governments) use the data to create policy. Finally, I love the esprit de corps of REEF and its remarkable efficiency. I know as a member of its board that the staff are breathtakingly dedicated, underpaid, and highly productive. REEF's budget overwhelmingly goes towards its work. It is a truly great organization.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer for another non-profit organization that raises funds to deploy artificial reefs. When we decided to include fish counts in our artificial reef surveys REEF became our model. REEF is great to work with, I am always asking them to add new artificial reefs into their database and they are quick to respond. I enjoy doing surveys for both organizations, and the Florida FWC encourages us to put our survey data into the REEF database where it can be used by more researchers. REEF has been a great place for me to learn more about the fish I see on our surveys, and to get identifications on fishes I'm not familiar with.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I got involved with Reef.Org around the time of the 20th anniversary celebration. The key members were present giving lectures and leading groups of fish surveyors on their dives. It was an incredible experience and I've been hooked ever since. I feel like I learn something new on every dive when doing surveys. It's a great satisfaction knowing you're contributing to a database for scientific research. Reef.Org provides prominent speakers every 2nd Tuesday of the month, speaking on timely ocean topics at their facility in Key Largo as well as fish ID seminars lead by Carlos and Allison Estape. Web seminars on fish ID are hosted regularly to anyone with a computer so you need not be physically present. The Lionfish invasion is one key issues addressed by Reef.Org and they are one of the top organizations combating this problem. They are truly a force helping to protect our oceans.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Simply put, there is no other nonprofit like REEF providing excellent free resources, education, and data to divers and industry professionals world-wide.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I love to SCUBA dive and snorkel for pleasure, but making my dives count towards something larger is fantastic. This is exactly where REEF comes in. I can independently ID fish and send my surveys in to REEF or sign up for REEF trips, filling out surveys while having a great support group and gaining more underwater knowledge. I love receiving their emails to see how my (and other REEF divers) data has contributed to large-scale and long-term research. I wish more non-profits could contribute in such a grand and meaningful way.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My wife and I are great fans because REEF has significantly enhanced our enjoyment of diving. The "Fisninars", which are fun, fast and informative, have anchored our increasing ability to identify fish. The REEF Training & Survey materials (with that excellent, user friendly CD) gave us the confidence to take PADI's Fish ID specialty course and to complete our first REEF surveys. As a bonus, my REEF knowledge noticeably improved my eye for underwater photography.

1 Carlos R. E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hi, I got certified in 1995 in Southern California then moved to Miami. Reef with their continue seminars and hands on the job actions keep me going strong, the only thing I got to say is thank you to them all.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I got into scuba for the fun, but you can't avoid the education. I am still learning, a lot, after 40 years of diving, and REEF is my primary source for underwater education. REEF helps me with fish identification and fish behavior. It is a wonderful "client" centered organization.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been following the lionfish debacle for a few years now, and was delighted that they offered some unique and artistic designs on t-shirts that would get the word out to those unaware of their Atlantic invasion. I ordered one and decided to pick it up at their HQ in Key Largo while vacationing in the Keys. They were very friendly and helpful group who informed me how I could get involved as a free diver here in our own Indian River Lagoon. Hats off to their Lionfish Derbies, as they are always a huge success.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

As a volunteer new to eco-activism, I looked to established agencies for knowledge, expertise, inspiration and guidance in my fields of interest, marine conservation and community involvement in areas affected by invasive species, specifically lionfish. REEF's leadership with their Invasive Lionfish Program is second to none in dealing directly with this threat to marine biodiversity and coastal communities that depend on sustainable ocean productivity for their livelihoods.

3 Keith35

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have done surveys in the California region for about 4 years and on the Advanced Assessment Team as well. Doing surveys is a lot of fun and knowing what I am looking at has helped hold my interest in my SCUBA diving generally. The educational component is exceptional and I would add that the people that work for REEF, like Janna Nichols and Christy Semmens are simply amazing and dedicated individuals who really demonstrate they want what is best for the members and the critters we encounter. i'm glad to be associated with such a fine organization!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been contributing to REEF's database of dive surveys for over 5 years now and I really like the amount of support they provide to divers and snorkelers at any level. Their web site is a wealth of information, not only their database but also quizzes for all different regions. Their free webinars aka "Fishinars" are always fun and entertaining to be experienced from the comfort of your home. To top if all off, they have friendly staff to answer any kind of questions you may have from your dive experiences. I learned so much regarding the critters I see in the ocean and it keeps it interesting and fresh. REEF offers a lot for FREE but actually they are priceless.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

REEF is my favorite non-profit. It is a group that gets stuff done! I started surveying with REEF in 2002 and have stayed involved with various projects pretty much since then. What is so amazing about REEF is the sheer numbers of volunteers. Love REEF!

1 Claire15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been diving as a REEF fish count volunteer for about a decade. It has been a great experience working with REEF staff over the years and having an opportunity to contribute to their data collection of species abundance and diversity.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's 21 years and counting that I've been working with REEF in one way or another - advising, hosting volunteers, partnering on research, using their data in management, and volunteering. I know of no more active or productive volunteer-based organization. What an awesome outlet for anyone with a desire to learn more about the ocean while helping protect it!

2 steve.lonhart

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a marine biologist for Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, I have been involved with REEF since 2007. REEF divers are given in-depth exposure to species identification from local experts, have access to online seminars, and participate in field excursions with biologists that further hone their skills in collecting data on fishes, invertebrates and algae along the eastern Pacific, from Washington to California. REEF divers are at the leading edge of the citizen science movement that is rapidly expanding along our coastal waters. Their sense of stewardship, appreciation for ongoing education, and general enthusiasm for the outdoors is contagious!

I highly recommend any divers interested in learning more about the marine environment and with a passion for making a difference to join REEF.

4 Jonathan29

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been working with this organization for 10 years. As far as I am concerned it is the preeminent marine, citizen science non-for-profit in the world. Their positive impact for diving, the environment and educating people about the importance of the oceans and the life therein can not be underestimated. From free online fish ID webinars, to fish watching vacations, to presentations on their many programs for schools and other organizations they have bridged the gap between scientists, politicians and the common individual wanting to learn more about the ocean realm creating a common playing field for all.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

REEF is a tremendously effective organization in the focused areas of marine science and education. I've learned more through REEF classes and fishinars about my local underwater species and habitats than anywhere else. The knowledge base created and maintained by REEF is not only a helpful tool for scientists, it is also an excellent resource for divers in guiding dive site selection and expectations. I've been a REEF member for several years and have had universally positive experience with this organization, its staff and its volunteers.