Volunteer Profile: Barbara Rapoza April 30, 2018
Background (where you are from/how long you have lived in FL) and current employment information:
I was born in Fall River, MA. I have lived in Ft. Lauderdale for 30 years. I am currently a 7th grade marine science teacher at New River Middle School.
How did you get interested in marine science?
I grew up alongside a river where I fished, swam and chased horseshoe crabs. During my first windsurfing day at Ft. Lauderdale Beach, I encountered my first manatee. That sparked my interest in wanting to discover new marine life. Although I majored in Forestry, I now can relate all my interests through the marine environment.
What prompted your involvement in MIASF and what do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Right after the sale of my windsurfing store called Windsurfing Madness, and returning to teaching, I learned about the Plywood Regatta sponsored by MIASF. I became a part of it immediately, trying to mentor students in boat building. I have been a part of this event for 20 years. I believe that if students took an interest in any capacity of the marine field, they would want to protect it and become better environmental stewards. But MIASF did more for our students than just offer us the Plywood Regatta. They offer students the opportunity to learn about other marine careers involving the boating industry. They have lectured in our classrooms and provided scholarships for summer programs. These are great reasons to continue volunteering with a great organization.
Are you involved in any other community organizations or events?
I am the Florida Assoc. of Science Teachers conference chairperson. For 15 years I have arranged statewide science conferences for approximately 800 teachers. We offer sessions in Marine Science. I also advise the Student Government at my school and recently resigned as the leader of the Broward County Science Fair after 15 years.
Why is volunteering important to you?
I have been successful in my life despite growing up in a low economic area. I feel it’s important to give back to the community, so I try to inspire students.
What do you do for fun? I still windsurf but mostly I hike and snow ski.