FSC Students Explore Gulf Coast Waters with Freedom Boat Club

May 4, 2017

by Robin Geddie

Thanks to a generous arrangement with Freedom Boat Club, FSC students can now explore a wide variety of marine habitats and ecosystems, and the arrangement is already paying benefits.

Led by Dr. Bryan Franks, assistant professor of marine biology, and Dr. Laura Habegger, visiting assistant professor of marine biology, the Biology of Fishes class recently embarked on a unique field trip to the Manatee River, where they learned about and practiced a variety of fish sampling methods, including seine netting, cast netting, and dip netting. They conducted this work on pontoon boats owned and operated by Freedom Boat Club.

Club President and CEO John Giglio ’96, recently offered the college access to boats harbored at a number of marinas along Florida’s Gulf Coast for field trips, research projects, and other engaged learning experiences. The oldest and largest boat club in the nation, Freedom Boat Club has 115 locations in 22 states and Canada with a fleet of over 1,500 boats and 15,000 members.

The trip allowed the students to enjoy a day out on the water and exposed them to sampling techniques they have been reading about in class.

“Everyone who went on the trip had an amazing time, and many of us hope to work with Freedom Boat Club again in the future,” said Samantha Stein ’19.

Dr. Franks said he looks forward to the opportunities this relationship provides, including additional field trips and expanding his research projects in scope and area.

“Freedom Boat Club’s support will allow us to better facilitate engaged learning experiences for our growing program, which currently has almost 90 students. This will enable us accommodate larger groups on field trips, giving everyone the opportunity to get up-close and personal with marine life in the Gulf,” he said.

“We’re pleased to be able to give back and to support FSC and to benefit students who are studying marine habitats,” Giglio added. “We’re enthusiastic to help facilitate the marine and boating experience and hope our contributions prove valuable in bringing classroom studies to life.”