D.J. Rainone Research & Science Center

November 2023

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we find ourselves reflecting on the incredible journey that we have been on, towards establishing the Ocean Research & Conservation Association’s DJ Rainone Research & Science Center. The progress we’ve achieved so far is made possible by the support of individuals like you who believe in our mission.

The interior foundational work is finished up.  The drywall repair, interior painting and flooring have been completed, so we have placed our order for new laboratory furniture! The next step will be the exterior painting, and once that’s completed, we can start with the sidewalk and landscaping.

The facility is taking shape as the beating heart of ORCA’s mission. Renovations are nearing completion, and we are making significant strides toward our goal of creating a hub for our research and conservation efforts.  Yet, we are still working to reach our fundraising goal.   

The strength of our community lies in individuals who, like yourself, understand the importance of preserving our oceans and are willing to contribute to positive change.  Your contribution can play a crucial role in shaping the future of our research and conservation efforts.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and with Giving Tuesday approaching, we invite you to join us in creating positive change by making a donation towards ORCA’s DJ Rainone Research & Science Center.  Every contribution, no matter the size, brings us one step closer to opening this facility that will serve as a beacon of hope for our ocean and estuaries, a place where science, innovation, and passion converge.

We are hopeful that you will consider becoming a part of this exciting venture and help us reach our goal.  Please donate today or pledge to give on November 28, Giving Tuesday.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with joy and gratitude.


Edie Widder, Ph.D.
CEO and Senior Scientist


September 2023

The renovations for ORCA’s D.J. Rainone Research & Science Center are progressing smoothly, bringing us closer to the finish line!  After passing the building inspections for the plumbing, electrical and window openings, we are again moving full speed ahead.

With each step we take towards realizing our dream of this facility, we are one step closer to creating a hub of innovation, collaboration, and inspiration that will propel our applied science research and community education programs.

Every contribution, whether big or small, every ounce of effort, and every moment of belief in our cause helps us move forward. 

With thanks, 

Edie Widder, Ph.D.
CEO and Senior Scientist

August 2023

Renovations at our soon-to-be new headquarters are moving right along! We are getting closer to realizing our vision of ORCA’s new main facility and laboratory that will empower our mission to restore the Indian River Lagoon.

The D.J. Rainone Research & Science Center, will become the heart of our operations, serving as a hub for ORCA’s applied science research on the Indian River Lagoon, innovative technology development, science-based conservation initiatives, and community education and outreach programs.  At our new home, we aim to create an environment that fosters innovation and collaboration and we firmly believe that with the right resources and infrastructure, we can make an even greater impact on aquatic conservation and sustainability efforts.


Your generosity is vital in achieving our goals. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our capital campaign. Any amount, no matter how small, will make a significant impact on our journey to protect and restore our waters.  To donate, please visit our secure online donation portal here: MAKE A DONATION.

If you prefer to contribute via check or other means, please find the details below:

Make checks payable to ORCA: 

Ocean Research & Conservation Association, 1235 16th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960

If you have any other preferred donation methods or questions, please feel free to contact our team at Ltracy@teamorca.org or 772-562-9052.

With thanks,

Edie Widder, Ph.D.
CEO and Senior Scientist
July 2023
While we are still waiting on quotes for the roof replacement, renovations are moving right along. 
What a difference LED lighting makes! All the old fluorescent fixtures have been converted to LEDs and the difference is brilliant.  The floors are now prepped for floor coverings and are marked off for the cuts needed to install drains in the laboratory.
All of the old windows have been removed and temporarily covered with plywood. The new windows are ready for installation as soon as it stops raining long enough to allow the cement to dry. 
We’ve finalized kitchen cabinet and countertops, colors and fixtures.  Here is our before picture–we can’t wait for the after!

Our team is ecstatic to see our new home starting to take shape and we are so very grateful to all who have helped make that happen.

In the meantime, the ORCAnauts have been hard at work.

  • The buffered shoreline installations funded by Impact 100 Martin were completed.
  • Two undergraduate interns joined our team for the summer. They are Katie Hastings from the University of Miami and Madison DePeri from Indian River State College.
  • 17 unique classes over 9 days were taught through the Learning Alliance’s Moonshot Moment and Gifford Youth Achievement Center. Training in how to build a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was a special hit with students who got to design and engineer a coat hanger ROV.



June 2023
Dear Friends of ORCA,
These are particularly exciting times as we have finally started the renovations on our new headquarters in Vero Beach. For those of you still in town, drive by our new address at 1235 16th Street and you’ll see our “Coming Soon” sign.
As with all projects of this kind we have met with some cost surprises, not least of which is needing a new roof in order to have our building insured. This unfortunately means we need to increase our capital campaign needs by an additional $300,000. Please consider helping ORCA with a donation to get us over this last hurdle.
ORCA  has been without a headquarters for almost 2 years now.  It’s been difficult but I’m very proud of the fact that we have managed to keep our programs on behalf of the Indian River Lagoon active by making our Center for Citizen Science in Vero Beach serve double duty for laboratory and office space and working remotely from home offices when necessary.
It’s been a challenge but we’ve made it work and in fact have substantially grown our Citizen Science Programs.  Currently we have hundreds of active citizen scientists who are measuring and monitoring local environmental conditions and helping to identify sources of pollution entering the lagoon.  They are also involved with shoreline mitigation efforts including installing and monitoring buffered and living shorelines as well as documenting pollutants entering the food web with our One Health Fish Monitoring program (see recent article in TCPALM).  ORCA’s Kilroy Water Quality Monitoring network has expanded to 21 sites located in major inputs to the lagoon and upgraded with new communications technology as well as advanced ocean optics sensors that are now being used to develop remote sensing algorithms for satellite tracking of harmful algal blooms and monitoring of seagrass.  And let’s not forget all the wonderful educational outreach, such as the Team ORCA Data Jam, which challenges contestants to come up with artistic ways to present science data collected by ORCA citizen scientists, as well as A Day in the Life of the Indian River Lagoon now entering its 6th year involving over a thousand  participants including students, volunteers and environmental organizations in collecting environmental data from the lagoon.  
Imagine what we’ll be able to accomplish once we have some elbow room!
We could really use your help getting over the finish line so please consider making a donation today.
With thanks,

Edith Widder, Ph.D.

CEO and Senior Scientist