2018 – 2021


Vero Beach, FL

Youth Sailing Foundation

Building Living Shorelines

The Youth Sailing Foundation of Indian River County (YSF) is located in Vero Beach on the Indian River Lagoon in Florida. The lagoon has more species of plants and animals than any other estuary in North America, with more than 2,200 animal species and 2,100 plant species. However, erosion, which is caused by storms and boat wakes, along with pollution and runoff from increasing coastal development, has impacted the mangroves, which are vital to the estuaries’ health, making it an important restoration site.

YSF combines teaching low-income and underserved students to sail while engaging them and community volunteers in restoring these vital coastal ecosystems. One day students will be learning how to tack and gybe, and the next day they will be in the water with local scientists installing living shorelines and learning about environmental issues facing the Indian River Lagoon. Topics that will be covered include the consequences of nutrient pollution, the importance of mangroves, and emphasizing the critical need to be better stewards of our waterways.

SCOPE 2020
  • Continue partnership with Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) to advance citizen science and monitor two new living shorelines on Indian River Lagoon.
  • Enable 40 students from underserved backgrounds to have on-water experiential education, including water quality and monitoring.
  • Provide 80 students and parents with direct interaction and collaboration with ORCA scientists and laboratory via field trips. 
  • ORCA scientists will serve as role models to students and advance their interest in water sample analysis and STEM careers.
SCOPE 2019
  • Continue partnership with Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA) to build two new living shorelines on the Indian River Lagoon in Vero Beach Florida.
  • Build natural breakwaters out of fossilized shells along the lagoon edge where erosion has degraded mangroves on the Indian River Land Trust shoreline. Young sailors and volunteers will transport and place shells and monitor progress.
  • ORCA scientists will supervise the installation and provide instruction for students. During installation, scientists will educate students about the challenges of preserving and improving the water quality in the lagoon and the many benefits provided by living shorelines that work to prevent erosion and restore coastal ecosystems.
SCOPE 2018 - Ambassador Grant: Tom Burnham
  • Introduce new programs that combine sailing lessons with environmental education with an emphasis on water quality in the Indian River Lagoon.
  • Support environmental education throughout their after-school sailing program.
  • Developed special needs sailing program for kids with disabilities.
  • Partner with 11th Hour Racing Ambassador Tom Burnham.

About Youth Sailing Foundation

The Youth Sailing Foundation of Indian River County (YSF) is located in Vero Beach, Florida and offers free sailing lessons and environmental education to boys and girls aged 9-18. Founded in 2009 by Charlie and Chris Pope, YSF believes sailing is an adventure for a lifetime and when taught at a young age, kids learn life skills that will endure. Sailing also challenges the student and builds confidence getting them outdoors and out of their comfort zone, into a world of wind and water. They learn to rig and pilot their own sailboat on the beautiful Indian River Lagoon in Vero Beach. YSF’s success is measured in the competence, discipline, responsibility, and leadership skills that blossom in our students.

Header image photo credit: Youth Sailing Foundation

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