Foundation Awards PBA $50,000 Grant to Study Coastal Waters


Palm Beach Atlantic University has received a $50,000 grant over two years from the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties to support the Coastal Biodiversity Conservation program, a research initiative involving Palm Beach Atlantic and Forest Hill High School students.

Dr. Thomas Chesnes (left) and Palm Beach Atlantic University students conduct field research in the Everglades. PBA is a private, Christ-centered college in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.
Dr. Thomas Chesnes (left) and Palm Beach Atlantic University students conduct field research in the Everglades.

The program, which begins this fall, will promote awareness and collect data on marine species in Palm Beach County coastal waters, estimate their contribution to the coastal economy and raise awareness among the region’s stakeholders. University faculty will oversee the project, and PBA students will work with Forest Hill students on their field work and help them develop community presentations based on their findings.

“The project will give Forest Hill and PBA students an opportunity to conduct major ecological field research in our coastal waters and collect data on these undervalued organisms, which are extremely important to the ecosystem and the economy of coastal communities,” said Dr. Thomas Chesnes, associate professor of biology and director of the project.

“It also will provide opportunities for our PBA biology students to mentor teens while helping to educate members of the public about life forms that, unlike birds or manatees, they might not come in contact with on a regular basis or know much about.”

Dr. Linda Sedlacek, assistant professor of earth science and oceanography, is the assistant director of the project.  “I hope that the students will gain a better appreciation for our environment and the lesser-known organisms that call them home,” she said.

The Coastal Biodiversity Conservation program is part of a larger neighborhood initiative known as the Parker Avenue Consortium, which fosters community partnerships to benefit kindergarten through university students and their families living in the vicinity of PBA’s Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus in West Palm Beach.

Through the consortium, PBA has partnered with Belvedere Elementary, Conniston Middle School and Forest Hill High School to bring educational resources to the community.

The Community Foundation awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process. The PBA grant is funded by the Environmental Fund.

About the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties

The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties is one of Florida’s largest community foundations. The nonprofit organization has invested more than $100 million in grants and scholarships over its 40-year history. At its core, the Community Foundation is an organization created with gifts from generous people committed to local causes. For donors, the Foundation serves as a philanthropic advisor. For the community, the Foundation serves as a grant maker and a civic leader. Through the support of its donors and fundholders, the Foundation has been able to address some of the community’s most pressing needs, including hunger, housing and education. For more information, visit