Our Story

You may have passed by the complex of buildings down A1A a hundred times. Perhaps you gained a love of the coasts as a child from field trips to the nature center. Maybe you’re a recent transplant who found inspiration in our little sea turtle rehabilitation community.

Ursa Ren

Your connection with Gumbo Limbo

Whatever your connection with Gumbo Limbo, we wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about all the incredible parties that join together to preserve our coasts, and where Gumbo Limbo Coastal Steward organization fits within the greater coastal conservation picture.

The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center was founded in 1984, and our original mission as the Friends of Gumbo Limbo was born. A group of key advocates banded together to form Friends of Gumbo Limbo, a 501(c)(3) conservation organization dedicated to support the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.

In its infancy, Friends of Gumbo Limbo served as a silent background partner for the Nature Center- and with the precious coastal hammock, this support was desperately necessary.

A New Mission Takes Shape

In 2010, a new mission began to take shape. While the mission of coastal preservation was the focus of the Nature Center, the Friends saw a major opportunity to address the steadily increasing amount of sick and injured sea turtles in our area.

Imagine running a hospital whose patients will never be capable of paying a cent for your services. Imagine managing a hotel with a consistent $0/night rate. It sounds crazy, but that was the challenge we faced with each injured or sick sea turtle accepted.

The Friends of Gumbo Limbo were proud to step in and rally donors and financial support to ensure the Nature Center could weather any storm to amplify the mission of sea turtle rehabilitation.

Partnership Rises to the Challenge

The “Friends” helped the Nature Center thrive through recessions, hurricanes, and more, but the greatest challenge of all would not arrive until the world-shaking month of March 2020.

A global pandemic created unprecedented challenges for the center, as CDC-recommended closings eliminated the regular influx of visitors and door donations. While the world of humanity shuddered in disbelief, the world of the sea turtle remained oblivious.

Joint efforts between the City and the Friends provided much-needed support to weather this unprecedented age as the Nature Center doors remained locked.

From the ashes of the pandemic, the Friends of Gumbo Limbo saw a desperate need to expand their positive impact.

Capacity for Stewardship

We realized that our capacity for stewardship goes even farther than the countless sea turtles we’ve already saved in the area.

Put simply, Coastal Conservation cannot exist as a quiet cause. The Nature Center has inspired us to go beyond those walls to ensure our family, neighbors, and community all understand the fragility of the coastal majesty we take for granted.

By changing our name to Gumbo Limbo Coastal Stewards, we have adjusted our vision.

Our mission has not changed- just the scale. We aim to continue to support the Nature Center, while serving as champions for the greater cause in our communities and beyond.

There’s plenty of work to be done, and as far as we’re concerned we’re still “just getting started” 30 years later.