Sheila Scolaro is a marine botanist and the Community Programs Scientist for the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. She coordinates seagrass and macroalgae monitoring efforts in the Tampa Bay region, facilitates a Community Advisory Committee, and coordinates community engagement through volunteer events and citizen science programming.
Sheila was born and raised in west-central Florida where she grew up snorkeling and fishing the grass flats. With her tip-net and bucket in tow, she would swim around the meadow collecting, observing, and becoming ever more enamored with the diversity of life hiding just below the surface of the water. Her love of this ecosystem sparked her fire for conservation. She has an endless drive to ensure future generations have the same opportunities to explore these sensitive estuarine seagrass habitats.
She studied Plant Science at the University of Florida and earned a Master of Science in Conservation Biology where she investigated seagrass reproductive ecology and life history. Early in her career, she traveled around the Gulf Coast of Florida monitoring seagrass habitats and has seen most of the state’s shoreline by boat. Sheila went on to manage the Seagrass Monitoring, Water Quality Monitoring, and Community Outreach Programs for Sarasota County. In this capacity, she began engaging community members in seagrass data collection through citizen science. More recently, she has been developing a citizen science macroalgae monitoring program that will help estuary managers better understand the health of Tampa Bay. When she isn’t underwater, Sheila spends her time paddle boarding through the many mangrove islands found in the estuary and backpacking remote trails in Florida and the Grand Canyon. She is one of sixteen individuals on the Florida National Scenic Trail Next Generation Coalition who actively engage younger and more diverse individuals in hiking. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Egmont Key Alliance, a group of individuals dedicated to protecting the natural, cultural, and historical resources on the remote island.