Thursday, October 21, 2021

Marco Island’s DAR Focuses on Rookery Bay and Scholarships for Local Studentsby Chris Curle

Every year, the Marco Island Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) awards certificates of excellence and monetary scholarships to outstanding local students and an exceptional Lely JROTC cadet.

The awards were part of the chapter’s meeting April 18th at the Hideaway Beach Club.

Marco Islander Josephine Torres, who was unable to attend, won the $1,000 DAR scholarship for her essay “What Patriotism Means to Me.” These scholarships are not given as cash or a check. They are sent directly to the institution after the recipient has sent the Marco DAR chapter a transcript of his or her first semester/quarter.

Emily Reisinger, a 7th-grader at Marco Island Charter Middle School, won the American History Essay Contest for her piece on the “Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary.” She was one of 111 students who entered the chapter’s American History Essay Contest. Her language arts teacher, Kerry Holdsworth, is an enthusiastic supporter of the essay contest. She accepted a DAR donation check to the school.

Zachariah Schemel is math major finishing his junior year at Lely High School with a great grades and a lengthy list of athletic activities, including Cross Country Track, Varsity Tennis and the Sailing Team. For those accomplishments and his activities as a JROTC Cadet, Zachariah received a certificate of excellence, a DAR medal of recognition and scholarship money.

His father, Chris Schemel, told the DAR he was proud of his son, whom he described as a good role model for his younger brothers.

Jared Franklin is the point man for invasive plant and animal management at the Rookery Bay Estuarine Research Reserve. That’s a big job, considering how many invasive species run amok in Southwest Florida. For example, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission says more than non-native plants such as melaleuca, Brazilian pepper, cogon grass and climbing ferns have invaded one-and-one-half million acres of Florida’s public conservation land. There also is a long list of invasive birds, mammals and reptiles, such as iguanas and pythons.

Franklin also talked about the 40th Anniversary of the reserve. Here are some highlights:

  • 110,000 acre reserve stretching from downtown Naples to the Western Everglades.
  • 40% of Collier County Coastline.
  • Preservation partnerships with local landowners and conservation agencies.
  • Aquariums, a touch tank, natural history exhibits, walking trails, guided boat and kayak trips to and through mangroves and dunes, art gallery and gift shop.
  • Special events, activities and summertime Kids Free Fridays.
  • Friends of Rookery Bay: Established in 1987, a volunteer group.
  • Free admission, boat and kayak tours on National Estuaries Day, Sept. 28.
  • Don’t miss the PBS documentary “Southwest Florida’s Mangrove Coast,” WGCU on April 28.

“We are really excited about this film,” said Reserve Director Keith Laakkonen. “The documentary shows (how) people have made to this special place for over four decades.”

To learn more about Rookery Bay, to volunteer or donate, call 239-530-5940, visit 300 Tower Rd., Naples FL 34113, or visit

DAR has 180,000 members in 3,000 chapters worldwide. Members are women 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot in the American Revolution.

Monthly luncheon meetings are at 10:30 AM on the third Thursday of each month.

Members also meet casually between meetings, just for friendship and fun. Potential members and visitors from other chapters are welcome. Please contact Pat Hancock, 319-530-5006.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *