About Us

Learn More About what we are About


How We Got Started

Coastal Connections, Inc. was created in 2017 to foster a connection between people and the coastal wildlife by restoring the function and beauty of our coastal habitats through education, research, and conservation interactions. Individuals of all ages from schools, community groups, tourists, and more will get to participate in oyster recycling, turtle digs, dune plantings, turtle releases, coastal cleanups, environmental art projects, the locally famous Sebastian Lionfish Fest, and much more!

The Problem

The Treasure Coast is home to many coastal environmental gems including high density nesting beaches, the Indian River Lagoon, and various natural and artificial reefs which are important for recreational and commercial fishing enterprises.  However, these ecosystems have become stressed as the area develops and the human population rises.

Danger to Sea Turtles

There are many threats to sea turtles and their habitats including light pollution, plastic and general litter, and improper human use of beaches.

Lionfish Invasion

Lionfish are becoming the most wide-spread invasive species in the world. Florida’s coastal habitats are threatened by their presence due to having no local predators to keep their population under control.

A Lagoon in Distress

The Indian River Lagoon is the most biodiverse estuary in North America. The largest threat to this 156-mile body of water is the reduced water quality from non-point source pollution, man-made hydrologic distribution, loss of habitat, and an increase in invasive species.

The Solution


Sea Turtle Experiences

We use education and guided sea turtle interactions to minimize threats like light on the beach and plastic debris. We also promote new human habits that will not negatively affect the environment, and conduct cleanups to reduce the amount of litter.

Photo © Joe Rimkus Jr.

Sebastian Lionfish Fest

Every year an incredibly fun event is held to promote the awareness of these predators. SLF is a fishing tourney, a cook-off, and educational event all in one! Eating lionfish is the best way we can reduce their threatening populations.

Photo © LP Media

Save The Lagoon

To restore the IRL’s water quality we are working every angle: litter cleanups, stormwater pollution education, living shoreline restoration including oyster recycling, removal of invasive species, and all around promoting the health of the Lagoon.

Board of Directors

Kendra Cope M.S.


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Kendra has been the Coastal Environmental Specialist / Sea Turtle Coordinator for Indian River County (IRC) since 2015. Her Master’s degree is from the University of Central Florida where she was part of the Marine Turtle Research Group for three years during her studies specializing in the economic and behavioral impacts of sea turtle tourism conducted around the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. She loves encouraging her team of turtle volunteers, and spending her time with them on the beaches.

Sherri Davis

Vice President

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Sherri has been involved with the sea turtle program for Indian River County since 2010. She attended the University of Missouri and has a Master’s degree in business. After retiring from the corporate world in management of UPS, she moved to Vero Beach, Florida where she found her true passion in sea turtles. Sherri continues to dedicate her time to the research, preservation and conservation of sea turtles and their habitat. She comes to Coastal Connections with years of experience in planning and management and brings her enthusiasm to the goals of Coastal Connections along with her desire to help protect our sea life and ecosystems.

Chelsey Petersen


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Chelsey is a biologist and environmental educator in South Florida. She has a variety of field experience working with various species of sharks, rays, and sea turtles, as well as an abundance of both formal and informal teaching experience with various age groups. Chelsey hopes to use Coastal Connections as a platform to combine her two passions, education and the marine environment. In her spare time, Chelsey enjoys filling up her phone's memory with pictures of her dog and daydreaming about one day working with manta rays. 

Christiana McGuire


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Chris has always had a love of the ocean and its habitats. She studied art history at George Washington University’s Mount Vernon campus. She then went on to graduate with a degree in communications from the University of Florida. Over the years she has devoted time to volunteering at her children’s school and athletics. Most recently she has become involved with the Indian River County sea turtle program, volunteering tens of hours every month on research, conservation and outreach.

Deanna DeRosia


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Deanna is a scientific illustrator and sea turtle nesting researcher based in Florida. As an artist, biodiversity is the main inspiration for her work. She strives to combine her years of technical experience in biological research with her artistic background, using art to instill a love and appreciation for our invaluable ecosystems, and ultimately inspire others to discover and preserve Earth's amazing complexity.

Penny Tranchilla


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She is a native Floridian and a resident of Indian River County since 2012. As the owner/editor of Vero Beach Portfolio Magazine, her passion is showcasing the beauty that surrounds us every day. She is an “aquaholic,” spending every spare moment on the lagoon or the ocean, paddleboarding, diving and boating. She loves encouraging her readers to discover new things in our community and spend time outdoors. She has spent the last several years doing dawn patrol as a sea turtle volunteer. Being outdoors with her family and friends is her favorite thing to do! 

Becky Vickman


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A resident of Indian River County since 2016, Becky has a love for the ocean, marine life and all animals. She studied marketing at the University of Central Oklahoma, where she learned the importance of education on important matters and spreading a positive message. She is now involved with the Indian River County Sea Turtle Program volunteering weekly on conservation, research and education efforts. She loves spending time at the beach and on the lagoon enjoying beautiful Vero Beach and all it has to offer. 

Barb Grass


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Barb Grass-Public Safety Officer with Indian River Shores and former Fire-Medic of IRCFR. I am currently finishing my degree in Emergency Services. I am a native Floridian and a nature lover. I also am a volunteer with the Indian River County Sea Turtle Program for the past 6 years. In my spare time I enjoy the beach and outdoor adventures. My hope is to enlighten others to care about mother nature and all her creatures.


New Partnerships

CCinc is excited to announce multiple new partnerships in its first year; including Ocean Conservancy, the Youth Sailing Foundation, Sea Turtle Real Estate, and Indian River County.

CCinc Storefront

Visit our boutique store at 1006 Beachland Blvd.

2018 Lionfish Fest

CCinc had a successful first year hosting SLF with a total of 1252 lionfish removed for the event and more than 500 attendees.

Connect With Us Today!

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A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free (800-435-7352) within the State. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the State.