We are happy to announce our 2019 Volunteers of the Year, Fred and Laura Hartner.

Several years ago, Fred and Laura moved to Key Largo, Florida, from New Jersey. Since then, they have been a vibrant and active part of the REEF community in the Florida Keys. They support REEF by attending local events including the monthly REEF Fish & Friends seminar and social - and Laura is known for always bringing a tasty snack to share! They have provided fun, ocean-themed items for silent auctions and raffles for REEF Fest and other events, and they also go above and beyond at Lionfish Derbies, where Fred conducts lionfish filleting demos and Laura helps to prepare and serve lionfish ceviche for attendees.

It never hurts to have a few extra sets of hands at the REEF Campus, and Fred and Laura are always willing to help out around the office. Last fall, their time and assistance was invaluable as we made updates to the Giving REEF, our donor recognition wall featuring hand-painted wooden fish displayed on fences surrounding the REEF Campus.

Since joining REEF in 1995, they have become extremely avid surveyors. Fred has conducted 514 fish surveys in five of REEF’s survey regions and Laura has conducted 184 surveys in four regions around the world. Fred is also a member of the Advanced Assessment Team in the Tropical Western Atlantic region. Together they have participated in numerous Field Survey Trips, including Hawaii (their very first REEF trip), Little Cayman, St. Vincent, Roatan, San Salvador, Curacao (where they caught, filleted, and ate Lionfish), Philippines, Solomon Islands, Eastern Caribbean, British Virgin Islands, Brazil, Oman, Turks & Caicos Islands, and Fiji. Additionally, we are excited to have their joining us on several upcoming REEF Trips later this year!

When they are not underwater, you’ll find them growing beautiful orchids, helping around the Keys with coral restoration, volunteering at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and participating in volunteer efforts throughout south Florida.

We are so grateful to have two dedicated, friendly, long-time volunteers who contribute to REEF in so many ways. Thank you, and congratulations, Fred and Laura!