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Suncoast Waterkeeper Executive Director Abbey Tyrna takes a water sample from one of the area’s creeks. – Rusty Chinnis | Sun

Meet Suncoast Waterkeeper Executive Director Abbey Tyrna

Suncoast Waterkeeper’s new Executive Director, Abbey Tyrna, brings an impressive record of accomplishments to the organization.

Tyrna received her doctorate in geography in 2015 from Pennsylvania State University, where she researched the effects of development on wetlands. Tyrna earned a master’s degree in wetland science and management in 2008 from Louisiana State University and has a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental studies from Florida State University. She has taught at Penn State University and State College of Florida.

She has honed her leadership skills serving as secretary of the Florida Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals while co-creating and chairing the Society of Wetland Scientists’ Wetlands of Distinction initiative. She has been a member of the UF/IFAS Extension and Sarasota County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. In addition, she is a technical adviser for the Natural Assets Advisory Committee with the Palmer Ranch Community Association in Sarasota.

Before joining Suncoast Waterkeeper, Tyrna worked with Sarasota County government and the University of Florida to help bring scientific knowledge and expertise to the public as a water resources agent for UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability.

“The board of Suncoast Waterkeeper is proud to welcome someone with Tyrna’s experience and credentials,” founder Justin Bloom said. “The board and I look forward to taking this organization to the next level under the direction of someone with the dedication, energy and expertise of Abbey Tyrna.”

Raised in Cape Coral on Florida’s West Coast, Tyrna realized the importance of clean water, ponds, creeks and coastal estuaries as a child.

“In seventh grade, I got to walk through Six Mile Cypress Slough 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. I knew the swamp was special and learned it was connected to our limited groundwater resources. From that day on, I devoted my education to learning about wetlands and protecting Florida waters.”

She believes working with Suncoast Waterkeeper is a natural extension of that 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,” Tyrna said of her plans with the organization. “I will be intentional in my effort to 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.”

Tyrna lives in Sarasota County with her husband, two kids and their dog.

She likes to kayak and paddle board with her kids and intends to explore every creek and bay on the Suncoast.