University of Florida Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program (UF/IFAS) for more than 23 years and a Project WET Coordinator in Florida since 2012, passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. In honor of her commitment to youth education, UF/IFAS has created an endowment for the Sharon Fitz-Coy Memorial Award, an annual prize to be given to UF students making an impact on youth in their community.Sharon Fitz-Coy, senior biologist with the
Sharon’s colleagues at UF/IFAS shared the following information about her tremendous impact on water education in Florida:
As education coordinator for the UF/IFAS “Fishing For Success” program, Sharon personally conducted face-to-face, hands-on outdoor education programs for more than 150,000 children and their parents. “Miss Sharon” likely introduced more children to fishing than any other person in Florida. When the “Family Fishing Days” program was halted, Sharon took it upon herself to keep this program going, volunteering her weekends to set up and conduct the family-oriented events and rounding up hundreds of volunteers to help.
Sharon had a passion and love for introducing children of all ages to the wonders of the aquatic world. It was not uncommon for a teacher to come up to Sharon and say “You probably don't remember me, but as a child, I participated in one of your programs and now I'm bringing my students to you to teach.” When Sharon was out in public, children would often run up to her, exclaiming, “Miss Sharon! Miss Sharon! You're the bug lady that we visited!” Sharon will always be remembered by her colleagues and in the hearts of the many tens of thousands of children she influenced, and her big smile, laugh and will to get things done are unforgettable.
The University of Florida Foundation is handling donations for the Sharon Fitz-Coy Memorial Award. For more information, please contact University of Florida Professor and Fisheries Extension Specialist Dr. Chuck Cichra.