2017-08-10 / Top News

Rookery Bay support organization welcomes new executive director


BARKOUKIS BARKOUKIS Athan Barkoukis has joined Friends of Rookery Bay as executive director of the nonprofit organization that supports Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Mr. Barkoukis is responsible for community engagement, fundraising, special events, grant writing and other activities that highlight the education, research and stewardship work conducted by reserve staff. He replaces Gary Lytton, who has retired from the position.

The Rookery Bay reserve consists of 110,000 acres from Naples Bay through the Western Everglades.

“We are delighted to have someone of Athan’s caliber and experience taking the helm of our organization,” said Ray Carroll, president of the Friends of Rookery Bay board. “He has a passion for the environment that will help our members, donors and sponsors understand the importance of protecting our estuaries and the land around them.”

Mr. Carroll added Friends of Rookery Bay is moving into a new phase of expanding its support for the reserve’s scientists and educators who are dedicated to improving water quality, mitigating invasive plant species, tracking and protecting wildlife, and helping local governments and businesses making informed decisions that impact the Southwest Florida environment.

Mr. Barkoukis brings a mix of environmental research and nonprofit management experience to the organization, including tenures at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Green Energy Ohio, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Mote Marine Laboratory. He earned a master’s degree in environmental studies from the College of Charleston and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Colgate University.

“I am thrilled about returning to Southwest Florida and working with the community to support one of the nation’s few remaining pristine mangrove estuaries,” he said.

A highlight of the Friends of Rookery Bay work is the annual Batfish Bash for the Bay. The 2018 signature event is set for Friday, March 16, at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. ¦

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