Colleen Gray

colleen_gray.jpgWhat was your high school mascot?

Spaulding High School in Barre, Vermont we were the Crimson Tide. Which is funny because we were nowhere near the ocean.

What brought you to Bradenton?

After high school I joined the Navy and traveled all over the world - Crete, London, Panama, and several other places. I was a sharpshooter with an M-16 and built mines. Of course there were mostly men doing those things at that time. Since I grew up in a large family and competing in a lot of sports, I had the strength and agility to qualify for those missions.

After the Navy, I lived in St. Petersburg for years when a friend encouraged me to check out Bradenton. I loved the friendly, small-town atmosphere so I bought a house about five minutes from downtown, and have lived here for 7 years.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a marine biologist. Even though I grew up in Vermont (no ocean!), my family and I would go to Maine to the shore and it fascinated me.

What DID you do when you grew up?

Well, after the Navy I kind of DID do what I dreamed of doing as a kid. For nine years, I worked with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program doing outreach, and bringing scientists and the general public together to promote understanding of issues like water quality, red tide, scallop bed preservation, and sea-level rise.

How did you get started volunteering with Realize Bradenton?

I’m a history enthusiast as well and when I attended the re-opening of downtown Bradenton’s historic courthouse, I met the Realize Bradenton team. From there I perused their website and liked what I saw so I signed up to help. Since then, my experience with the RB Team is that they are organized, responsive, communicate well, and make it easy to volunteer.

Where else do you volunteer?

I still help with Tampa Bay Watch’s Great Bay Scallop Search every year. When I can, I do coastal cleanups, and enjoy volunteering at the South Florida Museum.

What do you love to do so much that you lose track of time while you’re doing it?

I only spend time doing things I love - so everything! Kayaking at some of our great preserves (Robinson and Emerson Point). I do love blues music though. Before he passed, blues great Jesse Yawn and his wife Glenis was my neighbor. I have helped at 4 of the 5 Bradenton Blues Festivals and loved every one!

Name a few of your favorite places in downtown Bradenton.

I enjoy spending time at the South Florida Museum and Manatee Village Historical Park.  I wish Tarpon Pointe was still open – I used to take visitors there all the time.

Batman or Superman?

Superman because I’m not a night person