Recently Coastal Breeze News peeked in on a meeting of the Marco Island Shell Club. It was a full house; twelve project tables, the scent of glue guns, and members busy creating shell art for the upcoming Shell Show.
At the various tables I spied beautiful “sea glass” vases and candlesticks, Christmas ornaments and other holiday decorations, wreaths, jewelry, floral arrangements, mirrors, and more. For members, the club provides everything they need to create wonderful shell projects, “except the glue gun,” Marsha Prunetti, the club’s president told us.
President-elect Kathy Benedik told us that preparations for the show start in November. The crafts and shell art will be sold at the March Shell Show to support the club’s mission “to promote the study, conservation, history, and science of seashells and mollusks, and to encourage shell-related interests, such as shell collecting, crafting and shell art.”
The club helpsprovide scholarships and grants at Florida Gulf Coast University, for marine and environmental sciences, and the University of South Florida, for graduate research in ecology.
The club also supports Rookery Bay’s National Estuaries Day. And recently the club helped Rookery Bay purchase microscopes and a camera with projecting capabilities for student education.
Membership in the Shell Club has many benefits: social, artistic and educational. Karen Ackerman is a two-year member who enjoys all the benefits of the club. Originally joining the club to meet other islanders, she told us that the best part about the club is “the people.” Karen had been collecting shells, like many of us, for years. And also like many of us, she had never done anything with them. That changed when she joined the club and learned how to use shells in creative ways. The club’s educational aspect appeals to Karen as well, telling usthat she really enjoys learning the marine science. The creative outlet is a bonus.
Longtime Shell Club Member Carole Stavenas was kind enough to let me look even further behind the scenes, at the club’s storage room. The volume of shells was astounding, and extremely well organized. Some shells are found on Marco, but the vast majority for the projects are purchased or donated. Excess shells are donated to the church’s school for youngsters to enjoy.
The Marco Island Shell Club has close to 140 members, and is a 501(c)(3) organization. In addition to shell crafts, the club also holds seminars to educate members and the public on marine issues, appealing to those interested in the science, as well as the beauty, of shells.
The Shell Show is an annual community event that is not-to-be-missed. It is the perfect combination of science and art- just like the club itself. The showwill have scientific and artistic exhibits, and a shell art gift shop where visitors can purchase the many projects members have been creating since November. The gift shop is the perfect place to find unique one-of-a-kind gifts, made right here in Marco Island. And all funds raised go towards student scholarships and education.
The Shell Show is March 10-12 at the United Church of Marco Island. Be sure to bring your kids and grandkids on Saturday for the fun events the club has planned for them. There will be a live shell tank presentation (12 PM), craft project to make a shell necklace (1 PM), and a contest for the largest and smallest lettered olive shell (2 PM).
The United Church of Marco Island is located at 320 N. Barfield Drive. The Shell Club meets every Tuesday from 9-11:30 AM, November to March, at the United Church of Marco Island. For more information, visit www.marcoshellclub.com.