Endowment for Sharon Fitz-Coy Memorial Award

Sharon Fitz-Coy, senior biologist with the UF/IFAS SFRC Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program for the past 23+ years, unexpectedly passed away on 27 February 2016.

Sharon was the “Jamaican mother” for many graduate students over the years. As education coordinator for our “Fishing For Success” program, Sharon personally conducted face-to-face hands-on outdoor education programs for over 150,000 children and their parents. She likely introduced more children to fishing than any other person in Florida.

When UF decided to stop conducting our monthly “Family Fishing Days”, Sharon took it upon herself to keep this program going, by volunteering her weekends to set-up and conduct these family-oriented events. She rounded up 100s of volunteers to help. She gave away 1,000s of “rubber worm awards” to children who caught either a largemouth bass or channel catfish.

Sharon had a passion and love for introducing children of all ages to the wonders of our aquatic world. It’s was not uncommon for a teacher to come up to Miss Sharon and say “You probably don’t remember me, but as a child, I participated in one of your programs and now I’m bringing my students to you to teach.” What a role model!

Often when out in the public, children would run up to her and say “Miss Sharon! Miss Sharon! You’re the bug lady that we visited!” Sharon will always be remembered in our hearts and in the hearts of the many 10,000s of children that she influenced! Sharon always greeted folks with a big smile, a laugh, and a will to get things done!

In honor or Sharon’s commitment to youth, we have set up an endowment (The Sharon Fitz-Coy Memorial Award) in the UF/IFAS Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program. This annual award will be given to UF students making an impact on youth in their community. Donations (tax deductible) can be made payable to UF Foundation, Inc. and sent to UF/IFAS Development, P.O. Box 110170, Gainesville, FL 32611-0170. Please note Sharon Fitz-Coy in the memo area. Donations can also be made online at www.uff.ufl.edu/appeals/Fitz-CoyMemorial Our goal is to raise $30,000 to fully endow the award.

As said by one of Sharon’s best friends: “We will all hurt and cry at her loss, but I will always remember the fire and joy she always displayed.”

For more information, please contact:

Chuck Cichra ( a.k.a. Dr. C )
Professor / Fisheries Extension Specialist
University of Florida / IFAS
School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences
Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
7922 NW 71st Street
Gainesville, Florida 32653-3071
Cell: (352) 339-6173