MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Sue Morgan, 47

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Marina manager helps kids learn how to protect manatees
By LIZ BEST
Special to Neighborhood Post

Sue Morgan describes herself as a typical Floridian raised on the coast, spending countless hours boating and exploring the state's marine life.

Now she's helping younger Flo- ridians to understand and respect the delicate balance between the inhabitants on land and the ones in the ocean.

Her official job title is market- ing and public relations director of Old Port Cove Holdings Inc., in North Palm Beach, but the part of her job she always looks forward to what happens in elementary schools across the county, where she teaches the children how to protect manatees. "It's a lot of fun and very rewarding," said Morgan, who lives in Palm City. "There are a lot of these kids who are going to be boaters (someday), and we teach them about manatees."

Morgan is part of a team of managers from Old Port Cove Marinas who make up the Manatee Protection Program. All one has to do is ask, and a team member will visit one's elementary school. Morgan believes the message is better received by the youngsters than it would be with an older audience.

"We can speak to the kids when they are interested not like if they were in high school, if you know what I mean," she said.

"When you are teaching younger kids, they are like little sponges."

Morgan spent the first year of her life in Puerto Rico then moved to the Space Coast, where her fa- ther had a job at Cape Canaveral. Her family moved to South Florida when she was a teenager.

Once she graduated from Palm Beach Gardens High School, Mor- gan got a job as a secretary at Old Port Cove Marinas, which at the time 1976 operated just one marina. Through the years, two more mari- nas have been added, as well as 46,000 square feet of office space, which Morgan manages. She organizes events at all three marinas and at Old Port Cove Marinas's yacht club. That means she has to make sure parties, dinner dances and wedding receptions go off without a hitch.

"My position has evolved," she said, adding that the job led her to her husband Richard, who is presi- dent of the holdings firm. While planning festive parties and recruiting new members is fun, it doesn't hold a candle to taking her message about manatees to school children. The presentation is about 45 minutes long and includes a videotape on the sea creatures, who are endangered and often killed by careless boaters. There's time for a question-and- answer session and the kids receive handouts and Save the Manatee bumper stickers.

The program also sponsors a monthly manatee drawing contest, and the winner's class adopts a manatee from the Save the Manatee Club, an organization that raises money for manatee awareness and pays for many manatee warning signs found in waterways.

The manatees are adopted from Blue Springs State Park in Maitland, where manatees are closely monitored. "They name them and send you a picture and a history of the manatee," Morgan said.

It's not surprising that Morgan and her husband are avid boaters. They own an old 47-foot motor yacht that they are restoring, learning the tricks of the trade as they go along.

When it comes to the inevitable conflicts between recreational boaters and environmentalists trying to preserve the waterways, Morgan says that she tries to see both sides.

"I personally don't get too political," she said. "My whole goal is that we have to be able to work together you have to share the waterways...it's all about a balance.