Dr. Gary Schmelz will be the guest speaker at the January 2016 meeting, Professor Schmelz received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Delaware. He is the former Director of the Big Cypress Nature Center and Director of Education for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. While working at the Big Cypress Nature Center and Conservancy, he developed, among other things, environmental science classes for Collier County 3d , 4th, and 7th grade children, a national environmental education training program for teachers, established a wild animal rehabilitation center, and supervised the Conservancy’s sea turtle nesting program. For his accomplishments in the field of environmental education, he received the Elsie M. B. Naumburg Award as the leading environmental educator in the United States in 1985. In 2007 Dr. Schmelz received the Howard Converse Award for his outstanding contributions to Florida Paleontology.
Dr. Schmelz has written dozens of natural history articles for Gulfshore Life Magazine. Currently, Dr. Schmelz is a Field Research Associate with the University of Florida where his main investigative interests are in the area of paleomalocology. To date, he has described 31 new species of fossil marine mollusks. His most recent scientific writings have appeared in The Nautilus. Other accomplishments include the publication of The Gift, a young adult novel, assistance with the establishment of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center on Key Biscayne, the publication of a book on Native Wildflowers of Southwest Florida. More recently he has co-authored a booklet on Mollusca of the Florida Shoal River Formation, an acclaimed biography entitled Journey to the Edge of Eden. His most recent publication is a book on Fabulous Florida Fossil Shells
Dr. Schmelz is the past President of the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel Island, Florida and was a former professor at Edison State College where he taught marine biology, oceanography, ecology, and biology.