Experienced educator/scientist Tyrna appointed executive director of Suncoast Waterkeeper

Her Penn State doctoral dissertation focused on effects of development on wetlands

The Suncoast Waterkeeper has a new executive director, the organization’s founder, Justin Bloom, announced on Aug. 29: Abbey Tyrna, who holds a doctorate in geography from Pennsylvania State University, where her research focused on measuring the effects of development on wetlands.

She “brings an impressive record of personal, educational and professional dedication to protecting the precious natural resource of water,” a Suncoast Waterkeeper news release says.

Previously, Tyrna worked with Sarasota County Government and the University of Florida as the water resources agent for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension and Sustainability program.

“The board of Suncoast Waterkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for everyone’s right to clean water, is proud to welcome someone with Dr. Tyrna’s experience and credentials,” Chair Rusty Chinnis said in the release. “The board and I look forward to making great progress” with Tyrna in a leadership role, Chinnis added.

Raised in Cape Coral on Florida’s southwest coast, Tyrna realized the importance of clean water — from ponds and creeks to coastal estuaries — “when she spent her time as a child playing among neighborhood mangrove forests and local waters,” the release points out.

“In seventh grade, I got to walk through Six Mile Cypress in Fort Myers,” she said. “I was in water up to my chest, and I couldn’t have been happier. Even though it was 30-plus years ago, I still remember the serenity of the swamp and the feel of the water,” she continued in the release. “From that day on, I devoted my education to learning about wetlands and protecting Florida waters. I am just one example of the impact that outdoor learning and environmental education have on developing lifelong stewardship.”

Tyrna said that joining Suncoast Waterkeeper is a natural extension of her work. “At Suncoast Waterkeeper, I plan to expand our waterway monitoring efforts and staff capacity to engage the community and influence decision-makers to protect our waters,” she pointed out in the release. “I will seek out diverse voices and points of view. In doing so, I hope to lead Suncoast Waterkeeper to realize its vision of clean water for all.”

Before receiving her doctorate in 2015, Tyrna earned a master’s in environmental science in 2008 from Louisiana State University, concentrating on wetland science and management. In 2001, she received her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Florida State University, the release noted.

Among many leadership roles in her field, Tyrna has served as secretary of the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals; co-created and chaired the Society of Wetland

Scientists’ Wetlands of Distinction initiative; was a member of the UF/IFAS Extension and Sarasota County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee; and is a technical adviser for the Natural Assets Advisory Committee with the Palmer Ranch Community Association in Sarasota, the release said.

She has taught at Penn State and at the State College of Florida and has written or co-written several publications, “including fact sheets to help guide local understanding of our water resources,” the release added.

She likes to kayak and paddleboard with her children, the release continued, “and has tried to make it out on every creek and bay on the Suncoast.”

She lives in Sarasota County with her husband, two children, and a dog, the release added.

Suncoast Waterkeeper is a a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of more than 350 organizations “all over the world dedicated to keeping our waterways drinkable, fishable, and swimmable,” the release pointed out. For more information, visit the website: https://www.suncoastwaterkeeper.org.