Mote Marine Laboratory kicked off its 60th Anniversary with a celebration Thursday, where Mote leaders announced a new $50-million fundraising campaign to expand the Lab’s impact in marine science and education locally and globally

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Mote Celebrates 60th Anniversary, Announces $50-million Fundraising Campaign
Mote Marine Laboratory kicked off its 60th Anniversary with a celebration Thursday, where Mote leaders announced a new $50-million fundraising campaign to expand the Lab’s impact in marine science and education locally and globally.

Mote leaders unveiled Oceans of Opportunity: the Campaign for Mote Marine Laboratory to 225 supporters, contributors and friends of the independent, nonprofit Lab during an invitation-only gathering Thursday evening, Jan. 22, at Mote’s home base on City Island, Sarasota. The campaign — Mote’s first multi-year, comprehensive fundraising effort — marks a pivotal moment for the Lab’s science and education missions, which have led to groundbreaking discoveries about marine ecosystems, supported economic development and helped millions of people become more ocean literate.

Mote was founded in 1955 as a one-room lab by famous “Shark Lady” Dr. Eugenie Clark. Since then, Mote has grown to become a world-class research institution with more than 200 staff including 35 Ph.D. scientists. Mote’s 24 diverse research programs operate at six Florida campuses, and its scientists work around the world.

“Since that important moment six decades ago when Genie Clark followed her dream, Mote’s impact has rippled through the community and around the globe,” said Dr. Michael P. Crosby, President and CEO of Mote. “Now it is time to recognize how much Mote has achieved and to unite in support of our oceans for generations to come. We have already discovered cancer-fighting substances from sharks, raised miles’ worth of corals to restore our reefs, developed innovative and sustainable ways to farm seafood, provided informal science education for all ages and served our oceans and our communities in countless other ways. Just imagine what we’ll do next, together with all of you who support us.”

From the beginning, Mote’s success has depended upon passion, partnership and philanthropy. Mote’s passionate scientists and educators have forged meaningful partnerships with their communities, and caring philanthropists have helped fuel their vital work. For example, the Vanderbilt family provided crucial support to help Clark start the Lab, and major benefactor William R. Mote, the Lab’s namesake, helped it become the world-class institution it is today. Since then, donors have remained a critical pillar of Mote’s strength.

“It has been inspiring to see so many people rally around Mote — they recognize the valuable public services the Lab provides,” said Judy Graham, a Mote Trustee and 60th Anniversary Chair who has dedicated her time, energy and support to Mote for more than 30 years. “Whether Mote is monitoring for red tide, rescuing endangered animals, assessing the health of our marine ecosystems or reaching out to school children across the U.S., the missions of Mote serve us all. Mote and the community support each other — that is what Oceans of Opportunity is all about.”

Oceans of Opportunity invites the public to help Mote receive commitments of $50 million by the end of the year to achieve the vision for growth in the Lab’s guiding blueprint, the 2020 Vision & Strategic Plan. (Learn how the public can participate in Oceans of Opportunity below.)

Guided by its 2020 Vision, Mote aims to advance its marine research enterprise, recruit and nurture more top scientists and educators, particularly fostering next-generation Ph.D. researchers, and expand its local and global science to support conservation and sustainable use of marine resources.

Below are some of the goals Mote seeks to attain by 2020:

Expanding its annual budget from $21 million now to more than $25 million;
Increasing Mote’s team of Ph.D. scientists from 35 now to more than 45;
Increasing staff from 210 now to more than 235;
Sustaining and nurturing the Lab’s dedicated group of 1,600 volunteers;
Increasing the number of Mote Members from 9,000 now to 12,000;
Increasing its annual economic impact in Florida from $86.8 million now to $145.801 million.

Guided by Mote’s vision for the future, the leaders of Oceans of Opportunity worked hard to choose a powerful and attainable fundraising goal and to take major steps toward it before the campaign’s public debut.

“We have already made meaningful progress — the community has contributed $30 million toward our $50-million goal,” said Bob Essner, Mote Trustee and Chairman of Oceans of Opportunity. “Several generous donors have stepped forward, and 100 percent of Mote’s Board of Trustees and numerous staff and volunteers donated prior to the campaign’s public debut. We are immensely grateful to each of you for showing such deep dedication to Mote.”

During Thursday’s celebration, Mote leaders shared some of the earliest triumphs within Oceans of Opportunity:

Helping fisheries in Sarasota Bay
Sarasota philanthropists Carol and Barney Barnett have donated $3 million to help Mote implement its Fisheries Conservation & Enhancement Initiative to protect and restore fisheries in Sarasota Bay. The Barnetts have challenged the community to raise $3 million more, matching their gift for Mote’s campaign.

“I grew up in Florida and joined Publix,” says Barney, who today is Vice Chairman of the company. “Everyone lives close to the oceans and it’s our most valuable asset.”

As a scuba diver and angler, Carol has first-hand knowledge about ocean changes — for better and worse. “It really hit me when I learned what Mote was doing, that it was so much more than a little family activity. Mote is worldwide and making sure that we take care of the ocean environment. We have to be knowledgeable about what’s going wrong and what’s going right.

“This is serious business.”

Exciting Expansion in the Florida Keys
The Gardener Foundation, based near Mote’s main campus in Sarasota, has made a significant initial investment of $5.14 million to advance Mote’s ability to significantly expand its research infrastructure in the Florida Keys. The expansion will involve constructing a new building on existing Mote property on Summerland Key to greatly enhance our research and education activities.

Mote’s current research facility on Summerland Key is a hotbed of marine science, education and conservation that addresses some of the most pressing ocean challenges of our day — particularly the global threats facing coral reefs.

As long-time supporters helping to lead the way for Mote’s efforts to grow, The Gardener Foundation has shown tremendous excitement and good faith. They have expressed their confidence that Mote and its supporters in the community can quickly raise the funds required to complete this effort.

Leadership giving: Several anonymous donors have helped lead the way by providing more than $1 million each through Oceans of Opportunity and many others have committed.

How the Public Can Help

Visit to learn more and support Oceans of Opportunity.
For questions, contact Jennifer Vigne at 941-388-4441, ext. 393 or [email protected]
Share the wonders of Mote with your family and friends.
Visit Mote Aquarium, open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day of the year at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, City Island, Sarasota.
Purchase a Mote Membership.
Attend Mote’s events and fundraisers throughout 2015.
For details about each of these opportunities, visit:

Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization based in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations in eastern Sarasota County, Charlotte Harbor and the Florida Keys. Mote has 24 research programs and a variety of initiatives dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans with an emphasis on world-class research relevant to conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, healthy habitats and natural resources. Mote’s vision includes positively impacting public policy through science-based outreach and education. Showcasing this research is Mote Aquarium, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at

Contact Us:
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla., 34236. 941.388.4441

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