International College to Share Academic Findings on Manatee Protection Issue at Aug. 12 Forum in Cape Coral

Students from five graduate classes at International College will share their manatee protection/dock building case study findings at a public forum from 6 to 9 p.m., Aug. 12, at the Cape Coral Yacht Club.

The classes have studied the issue since the beginning of the summer term seven weeks ago. They will present an unbiased, academic analysis of the issue from four different viewpoints: environmental, regulatory, public administration, and business.

The August 12 roundtable discussion, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Cape Coral, will include invited stakeholder representatives, the five classes, and members of the public.

Those who have confirmed attendance include Lee County Commissioner Andy Coy; Ken Stead, with the Florida Marina Association; Alex LePera, Cape Coral City Council member and sponsor; Margaret Emblidge, Director of Planning for The Bonita Bay Group; and Laura Combs, southwest regional coordinator for Save the Manatee Club.

“This is a unique forum that International College is putting together representing the various stakeholders,” Combs said. “Projects like this are very valuable for our graduate students in that it gives them real-world experience. I’m looking forward to a process where factual and scientific information can be shared for everyone’s benefit.”

The study centers around a lawsuit filed by the Save the Manatee Club, which resulted in new manatee protection regulations that imposed slow-speed zones and a moratorium on dock building in some parts of the southwest region of Florida, including Cape Coral.

Three professors have been working with students within and outside of class time in preparation for the public forum. Dr. Kris Thoemke’s Environmental Permitting and Compliance class is evaluating the environmental concerns as well as the federal and state regulations that brought the issue to the public.

Dr. Telemate Jackreeces’s Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration, Function and Structure classes are examining the public viewpoint centering on the procedures for implementation of the regulations that resulted from the Save the Manatee Club legal action.

Dr. Forrer’s Strategic Business Management and Management Processes classes have been analyzing the decision’s business impact to boat sales, doc permits, residential building and other areas.

“The classes are really getting into this project,” Forrer said. “The academic benefit to this study is the integration across various fields of study. This integration allows students to see an issue as a whole instead of just in their particular field. Students seldom get to see an issue in action and go through the process. This is really hitting home with them.”

If this forum is successful, Forrer hopes to have future classes analyze other community issues such as the Sanibel bridge and the Naples Stadium.

Linda Jackson, a business administration student from Naples, said she has been busy getting data from various local insurance agents and marine contractors in order to gain more financial impact perspective.

“This has been a really exciting project and a rare opportunity that has enhanced the learning experience because students are involved on a more personal level,” Jackson said. “It’s also a good learning tool that we can all take with us once we graduate.”

Karen Wilson, an environmental management student from Bonita Springs, points out another important reason behind the case study.

“Education is the big idea here. We’re trying to educate the public and other companies who are involved in the process,” Wilson said. “This is a big issue and there are a lot of questions left to be answered.”

Ron Carlock, president of the Rotary Club of Cape Coral, said the Rotary is sponsoring the event because of its significance to the residents of Cape Coral.

“It’s a very relevant issue that needs to be studied. I think the graduate students’ participation in this study is extremely important,” Carlock said. “This is a timely project that shows International College is tuned into the community and what is important to the community.”

For more information on this event, call Forrer at 482-0019, Ext. 135.
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