Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Dream Team: MIHS, MIA and Me


MIA art students Cassie Sullivan (left) and Ariel Johnson in front of the mural on display at the MIHS. Photo by Rob Eder

MIA art students Cassie Sullivan (left) and Ariel Johnson in front of the mural on display at the MIHS. Photo by Rob Eder

Over the past few years it has been my pleasure to speak at the Marco Island Historical Society on a number of topics, ranging from dolphins to birds to wildlife of Southwest Florida. I’ve made a lot of friends at the museum and had the pleasure of enjoying the Leadership Marco program with Curator Austin Bell and Director Patricia Rutledge. The relationships forged with these two astonishing individuals led to more friendships. Getting to know Museum Manager Jennifer Perry and her “right hand” Jessica Patel assured me that this was a truly amazing family of professionals that I can still call upon for assistance. It would be remiss to exclude the front desk superstar who makes the wheels turn smoothly, Susan Pernini. (I want to adopt her!)



Just a short drive down San Marco Road I had the pleasure to meet Marco Island Academy (MIA) Principal Melissa Scott. The opportunity to have some of the MIA students join me on the water to learn about our marine life became a reality on several occasions and, under the guidance of teacher Gerry Miller, we collaborated on some ventures into the Big Cypress Swamp as well.

Photos by Bob McConville

Photos by Bob McConville

I am so very grateful for all of these friendships that have enriched my life. Now, we are all coming together for a three-month event to share with the public.

The Marco Island Historical Society (MIHS) is well known for its exhibits in their Salmon Room featuring area history and current art. The theme will change every few months, giving the public an opportunity to enjoy a fresh point of view of our past and present. MIHS personnel had commented several times about my photos and I was pleasantly surprised when they approached me about providing an exhibit. How could I say no?



In the past, the majority of the exhibits have featured amazing works by a variety of artists that are, without a doubt, museum quality. Guided and inspired by MIHS manager Jennifer Perry, we’ve decided to take a slightly different approach and focus more on the educational information with the art as a compliment.

Some of my photos have been transferred to canvas and others to metal.

The theme of the exhibit will be “Beyond The Mangrove Trees and Beneath The Emerald Waves” so a portion of the room will be dedicated to wildlife seen in the Everglades and our shoreline, and the other half to my favorite subject, dolphins. In addition to the photos, there will be two slide shows for the public to enjoy. One will be about alligators and the other about dolphins. Also a gator skull and dolphin skull will be on display for learning purposes.



The main attraction, the piece de resistance, will be provided by my friends at Marco Island Academy. Under the tutelage of Art Instructor Rob Eder, a cast of student volunteers stepped up to answer the challenge of creating a wall-size mural, and it is beautiful! Student photographer Jayce Dawson took some pictures of Everglades trees, swamps and prairies to provide the inspiration for the project. Student artists Ariel Johnson and Cassie Sullivan worked diligently until the work met their satisfaction. This is truly a museum quality masterpiece if I have ever seen one. You will want to come and see this!

Additionally, nature specialists will be on hand periodically to answer questions for guests as they stroll through the exhibit over the three-month period (for more information visit

It is an honor to work in the company of such professional people, inspirational teachers and aspiring students. It is what some might call a true “Dream Team!”

I am humbled and blessed to be in their presence!

Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours, providing fun and educational walks in the western Everglades. He is also a naturalist for the local dolphin survey team on board the Dolphin Explorer, a 12-year research venture that monitors area dolphin activity. Bob loves his wife very much!

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