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Restoring Reefs and Shaping the Future of Florida Youth through Volunteering

Employee Volunteer Spotlight: Laura Morris

Zack Morris’ love for scuba diving started when he was just 12 years old after experiencing the beauty and thrill of snorkeling in Tampa Bay, the Nature Coast and the Florida Keys – a shared interest with his mom, Mosaic Superintendent Permitting and Reclamation Compliance, Laura Morris. When the duo stumbled upon a SCUBAnauts International (SNI) booth at St. Petersburg’s annual Marine Quest event, they knew it was the perfect way to satisfy their love for diving and shared passion for volunteerism. 

SNI introduces young men and women, ages 12-18, to informal science education through underwater exploration, including restoration and collection of scientific data in the Florida Keys’ coral reefs. Volunteering with SNI meant Laura could spend quality time with her son, as youth participation with SCUBAnauts requires parent supervision. “Taking part in the program allowed me to stay engaged with my son during his teenage years, but also offered the opportunity to help build and grow other young men and women as I serve as the Sarasota Chapter Dive Safety Officer (DSO) and Dive Pro. Also, I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors to help ensure this program is operating long into the future.”

Image: (L to R) Zack Morris pictured with CWVC dive buddy, Rocky. CWVC partners veterans with SNI youth. Together they use evidence-based practice in the field to collect data and conduct case studies that further the body of knowledge in the key research areas involving Orthotics & Prosthetics (O&P), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) treatment. Image above: SCUBAnauts coral skinning in the Florida Keys.

Together, Laura and Zack’s love for underwater exploration and restoration continued to grow. She watched her son become an SNI Leader, where he teamed with disabled veterans from Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge (CWVC), pictured above.  It has now been seven years since she first signed up with her son and while she has countless fond memories and experiences, watching Zack work through the CWVC-SNI Navigation Challenge with dive buddies like Rocky, tops the list.

“That Navigation Challenge had such an impact on my son that at 18, he chose to serve as an officer in the Navy. Those experiences also helped him earn a 4-year scholarship from the Navy and get accepted into Yale. I will forever be grateful to SNI and CWVC.”

Laura’s volunteer efforts with SCUBAnauts took on a new meaning after her son passed a year and a half ago. She continues to dedicate her time and money to SNI in Zack’s memory and to make him proud. Laura and her husband also volunteer with other organizations like Take Stock in Children, where they mentor high school students, and Daystar Life Center, a non-profit that provides food, clothing and other opportunities to those in need.

“I have gained a whole bunch of new kids in my life through SNI and am so proud of who they have become and to play even a small part in developing them. Whether or not these young people become marine scientists – most do not – or continue diving, they will learn leadership skills and the importance of dedicating time and energy to their communities while being part of a team that accepts each other’s differences and uniqueness.”   

Her time spent volunteering is now being matched through Mosaic’s Employee Giving Program, which offers expanded opportunities for employees to leverage The Mosaic Company Foundation matching contributions – up to $2,000 per employee per year. 

“I love the idea that Mosaic is providing this opportunity to all its employees and giving us a choice to engage with financial contributions or volunteer time. If people are passionate about an organization, they will want to help that organization with their money and time. Now that they can do that with additional support from Mosaic’s giving program – that is a total win!”

Learn more about SCUBAnauts International programming, donation and volunteer opportunities here. 

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