Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida
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Holly’s Mission to Save Manatees

If it wasn’t for nine-year-old Holly’s grandparents enacting a “no television” rule one afternoon, she may not have ever gotten the chance to draw and design a flyer to fundraise for Florida’s manatees.

Holly, an ambitious third-grader at Boyette Springs Elementary School, set up a donation bucket in her classroom in hopes of collecting spare change to help feed starving manatees. Holly loves all animals but said manatees seemed so vulnerable, and she wanted to be a helpful human like the characters in Suzanne Tate’s books. In no time, the small donation bucket had gathered $14.

“I didn’t know Holly had set it up in the class until her teacher let me know,” said Holly’s mom Julianne. “I was so proud of her.”

The generous donation will be used to help restore eelgrass in the Indian River Lagoon, replenishing the manatee’s food source. In 2021, FWC recorded 1,101 manatee deaths, many due to starvation, which set the stage for the unprecedented supplemental feeding trial. Warm water refuge sites for wintering manatees used to house acres of eelgrass that manatees would naturally forage on. Nutrient runoff and pollution created toxic algae blooms that choked out aquatic plants like eelgrass and seagrass. Now all that remains are underwater dust bowls for an animal that typically would consume almost 10% of its body weight per day.

Since the completion of her impromptu fundraiser, Holly finished a project on the Great Barrier Reef before leaving school for summer break, which will be filled with many marine activities no doubt. If you’d like to join Holly in helping Florida’s manatees, donate now.

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