The History of WRT
Wildlife Research Team was founded by two adventurous people who passionately believed in the betterment of our natural world. Dr. Tom and Donna began with one hurricane-battered canoe, which he named Do-er, and set out to explore and restore the waterways of South Florida. Soon they realized that it was vital to share their experiences (and the fun!) with as many other people as possible, and also to educate folks as they paddled along. So they expanded their fleet of black-painted canoes, with names such as Do-It, Did-It, Dunnit, Duzzit, It'll-Do, Doable, Gotta Do, Sure-Do... yes, you are seeing a theme!
Dr. Tom's dream was to enlighten and share in a unique, hands-on, and just plain fun way: and he made this dream a reality. He was also passionate about keeping our world free of trash and litter! Since its beginning, WRT has accomplished countless waterway and shoreline cleanups with community members happily volunteering "to get down and dirty for a good cause" as Dr. Tom would say. Tons of trash, to include derelict boats, motorcycles, computers, appliances, miles of rope and fishing line, thousands of bottles, cans, etc., etc. have been removed from Florida waterways by WRT volunteers.
Yet, WRT's primary purpose has always been education. Waterway cleanups and habitat restoration teach powerful, real-life lessons which could never be replicated indoors. Students of all ages and from all over the world have utilized WRT's customized "Canoe View Classroom" with hands-on nature studies.
Dr. Tom also dreamt of restoring the devastated mangrove forest of Matheson Hammock/R. Hardy Matheson Preserve in Coral Gables. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew flattened this magnificent habitat. So, in 2000, WRT became a 501©(3) nonprofit corporation, and with this status, Dr. Tom and Donna subsequently wrote and won several grants from FishAmerica Foundation and NOAA's Restoration Center. These grants were matched by 10,000 hours of volunteer time. In 2003, Dr. Tom was chosen to be a NOAA Environmental Hero of the Year, because of his unique vision and methodology, and subsequent brilliant success of restoring Matheson's Essential Fish Habitat with canoes, hand tools, and dedicated volunteers.
Tragically, our Dr. Tom passed away in May 2006.
We, you and I, are carrying on his magnificent legacy. As stewards of this precious and dwindling resource, we must understand how essential it is that Dr. Tom's dreams become and remain OUR reality. This is who we are and what we do: grab a paddle and prepare for a great adventure!