The 2018-2019 Destin Forward class has teamed up with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) to build a living shoreline in Ross Marler Park and restore CBA’s research vessels for future monitoring and living shoreline initiatives.
The Destin Forward leadership class, a program of the Destin Chamber of Commerce, discovers the inner workings of Destin through monthly presentations and field trips. Each class completes a project to give back to the Destin community. This year, Destin Forward members chose the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance because living shoreline and monitoring projects have a direct impact on citizens of and visitors to Destin.
“We challenge the class each year to find a need in our community and a solution to that need, and it should have a long-lasting impact on the Destin community. There is no question that maintaining top-level water quality is a major need for us, so this project fits perfectly with the tourism industry and for quality of life for our residents,” explains Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP, Destin Chamber President & CEO. “It’s good to see that they’ve learned from their classes. They should be congratulated on their hard work, not just the fundraising, but the physical labor as well.”
After raising funds during the annual Pins and Pancakes event at Uncle Buck’s in the Destin Commons, Destin Forward members volunteered with CBA for two days in March to build a new reef breakwater in Ross Marler Park, bag recycled oyster shell for a future living shoreline, and refurbish and restore CBA’s 19-foot Mako research vessel. Because of the class members’ efforts, the reef breakwater will provide habitat and reduce erosion along the Choctawhatchee Bay, while CBA’s Mako will continue to bring staff and volunteers across the watershed to conduct critical monitoring and restoration initiatives.
“Nearly all CBA staff go through the Destin Forward program,” explains Alison McDowell, Director of CBA, “So we are thrilled that this year’s class chose to invest in our waterways through their unique service project. They worked hard!”
Designed to provide a hands-on learning experience into the issues facing the Destin community on a day-to-day basis, Destin Forward accepts up to 25 business professionals for each 9-month class. Participants learn from experts in many different fields, including the environment, boat safety, tourism promotion, and government affairs. Class begins in August with a welcome reception and ends in May with a graduation.