In his previous life, Mike Goldberg was a Bear Stearns money manager. But things change, and a year ago, he and marine biologist Kylie Smith, a Florida Wildlife Commission scientist, spearheaded the founding of I.CARE — the Keys’ only Islamorada-based reef restoration organization — partnering with Mote Marine Laboratory and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
Islamorada artist Jessica Ann Cecil has a unique flair for painting marine life — and she’s passionate about using her art to connect patrons, clients and students with Florida Keys marine ecosystem conservation efforts. She often earmarks a percentage of art sales for Keys nonprofits including the Coral Restoration Foundation, Dolphins Plus and Save-A-Turtle.
Kristie Killam’s love of nature is an underlying theme in her life and career. As park ranger for the Florida Keys’ four national wildlife refuges, Kristie oversees the refuges’ Nature Center, opened last fall, and the nonprofit Florida Keys Wildlife Society “friends” group of volunteers and partners. She’s also a skilled nature photographer.
Rachel Bowman, the Florida Keys’ only female commercial lionfish harvester, is passionate about protecting native species by controlling the population of invasive lionfish. A licensed boat captain, she moved to the Keys nearly two decades ago. Now she captures thousands of pounds of lionfish annually, contributing significantly to the “conservation through consumption” movement.
Lisa Mongelia, the executive director of Islamorada’s History of Diving Museum, is a passionate diver. A member of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s advisory council, she’s extremely active in protecting the oceans to benefit future generations. Her goals for the museum include increasing educational outreach and, through diving, leading Keys environmental initiatives.
Gary Marion, who stars as "Sushi" in Key West’s popular New Year’s Eve “drag queen drop” while perched in a giant red high-heel shoe, is sewing colorful cloth masks to protect people during the global coronavirus crisis. Assisted by members of his drag troupe, he has already made more than 2,500 masks.
Clinton Curry is a seventh-generation Key West resident or “Conch” whose ancestors arrived some 180 years ago from the Bahamas’ Green Turtle Cay. The fifth generation of his family to be born in Key West, he’s passionate about preserving the history and culture of his hometown — through means including masterful conch shell musicianship.
One of the most popular spots at Key West's Equator Resort is Billy Record's bar. Not only is Billy a talented bartender, but he also manages karaoke shows at two LGBTQ venues, where he blends hilarious commentary and outlandish costumes. Recently Billy offered some insights into Key West and Equator’s enduring appeal.
Among the “stewards” who safeguard the Keys’ natural world are scores of local artists working in oils, watercolors, photography, mixed media, sculpture and other disciplines. By using their talent to depict and call attention to the Keys’ unique ecosystems, habitats, flora and fauna, they subtly inspire viewers to become passionate about protecting them.
Patrick Garvey owns and operates Big Pine Key’s 2-acre fruit farm Grimal Grove, billed as the first breadfruit grove in the continental U.S. His passion is to grow food sustainably and educate others — and he plans to reopen Grimal Grove Jan. 11 as a Florida Keys breadfruit research site, agritourism attraction and educational park.