Marine Environmental Education Center @ The Carpenter House

More of us are realizing that running a business that positively impacts the people and the world around us, also positively impacts our bottom line.

In this new series, we are putting a spotlight on the people and businesses who are doing something good for people, planet, and profit.  


in the vlog:

Meet the people and the reptiles behind the center...



Two weights glued to Captain's shell help keep her down when she dives.

Two weights glued to Captain's shell help keep her down when she dives.


The Captain at the Marine Environmental Education Center (MEEC) at The Carpenter House has been through a lot.  Struck by a boat in 2010, the Captain spent 3 years in rehab, then released only to find out that floating issues from the accident meant life would never return to "normal".  

"The Captain" is a green sea turtle.  Her species and the other 6 species of sea turtles in the world are all endangered.  As MEEC's Sea Turtle Ambassador, she plays a vital role in connecting with and inspiring visitors to protect our marine and coastal environments.




When you earn a Ph.D., it often means you become super specialized in a tiny niche of the world never to explore another subject again.  In Dr. Derek Burkholder's case, his focus was on the top-down control on seagrass communities.  His world has been full of studying sea turtles, who eat the seagrass beds, and sharks, who eat the sea turtles eating the seagrass beds.  When you see the world with a wider scope, like Derek, you begin to understand that everything is interconnected.

The MEEC provides visitors with this same understanding as it relates to sea turtles.  Many people, including locals, have never seen a sea turtle up close.  Without the intimate experience of watching a sea turtle dine at the Center, people lose touch with these animals.  And when they lose touch, they leave their trash on the beach, they bring balloons to parties, and they use daylight bulbs during sea turtle nesting season.

Not familiar with how these practices affect sea turtles?  I've covered why balloons blow in a recent post and given tips for how to throw a sustainable celebration in this post.


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Most days you can find MEEC Director, Dr. Burkholder, giving educational tours, demonstrating sea turtle-safe lighting to visitors, analyzing tracking data from satellite transmitters, and ensuring all of the filtration systems to the sea turtle pool are operating properly.  

At Nova Southeastern University, Derek continues to work as the principal investigator for the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program, and as a Research Scientist with the Guy Harvey Research Institute and Save Our Seas Shark Center.  With the addition of the MEEC, Derek looks forward to working even more closely with students and the community to expand our understanding of sea turtles and our coastal marine ecosystems.





Through the support of sponsors and donors, MEEC, which was built on a partnership between Nova Southeastern University and Broward County, is to be a premier marine environmental education facility.  

The power of "Blue Businesses" like MEEC to engage residents and visitors lies in their focus on providing positive experiences with the environment.  

There were a few visitors to the Center the day we were there.  When people meet The Captain, they quickly become enamored with her and in awe of her story of survival.   Then they open their hearts and want to know how they can help her and the other six species of endangered sea turtles in the ocean.  Derek simply gestures to the plastic water bottles they've been carrying around and points to the recycle bin,

you can start by recycling your plastic bottles and purchasing a reusable MEEC water bottle from the gift shop.

Easy enough!








(954) 357-5125


4414 N. Surf Road in Hollywood, Florida

To visit The Captain and Derek at the MEEC, park at Surf Road on Hollywood Beach and walk towards the beach.

Admission is free, but  there is a suggested $3 donation for adults and children age 3 and over.  This greatly helps offset operational costs and support environmental outreach!

Hours of operation:

Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM

What to see and do:

  • Captain, the resident green sea turtle
  • Interactive educational displays
  • Visitor's Center
  • Gift Shop
  • Access to the Beach
  • Daily programs

Volunteer Opportunities:

To inquire about volunteer opportunities at the MEEC, send an email to


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