Space Coast Progressive Alliance

The Future of the American Experiment is in Your Hands
Saturday, 05 April 2014 09:02

SCPA 1st Thurs: Young Adults in Action

Written by  Team SCPA

Update Fri. May 2, 2014

Judging by the after-meeting buzz, this was a most meaningful evening! Dr. Erin Baird gave scholarly breakdown of social behaviours; Richard Ross spoke passionately about importance unions are playing in establishing meaningful employment in an era of 'it's hard to find a paying job' -- and Clayton Ferrara stimulated all with his examples of successes mobilizing young adults. Look for lessons learned being applied in Action.



6:30pm Thurs. May 1, 2014
Front Street Civic Center, 2205 Front Street, downtown Melbourne FL 32901
Free and open to the public. Donations gratefully accepted.

Program: Young Adults in Action
Every organization, including the Space Coast Progressive Alliance, is wondering where the young people are. We're about to find out. Three imminently qualified, dynamic speakers, committed and involved in the affairs of young adults... in action.

Three featured speakers:

Dr. Erin Baird, J.D., Eastern Florida State College, Regional Coordinator for Service-learning.
Clayton Ferrara, dynamic leader, biologist, Executive Director IDEAS for US and founder of Terra Firma Institute.
Richard Ross, 3rd-generation longshoreman, who 'intends to become an influential labor leader for our generation.'

BONUS: 3 min. 'OPEN MIKE' speakers:

Natalie Casello
How can we motivate young adults to become participants in the community? To engage and inspire...

Gabriel Rothblatt
A revolution in leadership. Empowering young leaders means giving them a voice. The 'grey ceiling' ...

Focus must be: Young adults in action. Got something to say on our topic? We offer three 3-minute time slots for best proposals. Each speaker gets 3 minutes to speak followed by 2 minutes Q+A.
To submit your proposal, click here.


ABOUT our featured speakers


Dr. Erin Baird was born in Cape Canaveral, Florida and she has resided in Brevard county for well-over half of her life. Her travels have taken her to 31 states and 26 countries, but Florida will always be home. Growing up as the daughter of a US Naval officer and an educator who continue to sustain a healthy marriage after 45 years, her passion for service, commitment to community-building and appreciation for diversity were well-rooted in her upbringing. While her formal education has included an eclectic background in musical theatre, communication, psychology and law, her love for empowering people and cultivating active citizenship has always led her back to the field of education. But after ten years of teaching, she has come to believe that the greatest lessons happen outside of the classroom.

Erin currently works as the Regional Coordinator for the Service-learning Department at Eastern Florida State College (EFSC-formerly Brevard Community College), where she helps maintain symbiotic partnerships with over 300 local community partner organizations, as well as facilitate volunteer placement opportunities for approximately 5,000 college students each year. Through her coordination of this nationally-recognized program, she has personally facilitated numerous service projects, including ongoing collaborations like the BCC Buddies youth mentoring, the AmeriCorps College Access program, and a local chapter of the Rotaract service club. The BCC Buddies program places students as weekly mentors in neighboring elementary schools with large at-risk populations, and she orchestrated an annual College Day event where 100 sixth graders tour the campus and learn about college expectations. The EFSC Rotaract club has grown to include at least 60 student members and complete at least 50 service projects each academic year.  As a club, they have raised thousands of dollars to support local and national non-profits, including on-going partnerships with the Central Brevard Sharing Center, Brevard County Parks and Recreation, the American Cancer Society and the City of Cocoa.

Beyond the expected duties of her staff position, she serves as a student mentor for the Success Strategies courses, volunteers on numerous college committees, conducts SGA leadership workshops, and she also teaches three academic courses each term that directly guide students through an exploration of personal responsibility and active citizenship.

As a demonstration of her own commitment to active citizenship, she volunteers at least 20 hours per month. Some of her service is directly alongside her students as part of Rotaract club projects, but she also volunteers outside of her association with EFSC. As a Board member of a non-profit called Healthy Planet of Brevard, for the past 4 years she has helped raise awareness in the local community about the connections between diet, personal health, environmental destruction and animal cruelty. She has also regularly assisted with large fundraising projects as a Guild member for the local Women’s Center, presented at leadership seminars for Florida youth, and served as a judge for high school speech competitions, senior project exhibitions, and school beautification awards.

Erin sees a critical connection between service politics and conventional politics that must be nurtured to build a better future for our local, national and global communities. While no democracy can thrive without widespread voter participation and an educated citizenry, it is community-based civic engagement and a culture of service that help curb the bitter divisions and learned helplessness within our current political system. Young people, in particular, crave a more hands-on, collaborative, unity-focused approach to addressing large-scale political issues, where the results of their efforts are more personal and more immediate and there is a strong emphasis on fellowship.



Clayton Louis Ferrara is an accomplished leader, fundraiser and classically trained biologist, having managed philanthropic campaigns and environmental organizations since his teenage years to great success and praise. In 2011, he was declared 'A young alumni of significant distinction' by his alma mater, the prestigious, private liberal arts and sciences college, Rollins. Due to his formal education in biology and environmental studies, his training has enabled him to conduct scientific research on plant and animal diversity, habitat restoration, evolutionary mechanisms, and sustainable development in over a dozen countries around the world.

However, his greatest love is undoubtedly teaching. In 2009, he founded the Terra Firma Institute, a 501(c)3 partnered with IDEAS for Us to help provide hands-on education in science, music and art to students all over the world. In 2013, he traveled to London to meet the great, great grandson of Charles Darwin, having become the first American to win The Darwin Scholarship for his achievements as a naturalist under the age of 30. He is currently a member of the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Young Emerging Leaders Council, and previously served as President of The Central Florida Herpetological Society -- one of the oldest Reptile & Amphibian conservation groups in Florida -- from 2010 - 2014.

In 2011, Clay began working with the student group IDEAS and has since became the Executive Director and co-founder IDEAS For Us, a United Nations accredited, non-profit, environmental organization. He also serves as the Director of Science at the Ampersand School. He hangs his hat in Winter Park, Florida since 2004."

Clayton Louis Ferrara
Executive Director of the IDEAS Movement
IDEAS For Us (Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions)
Winter Park, Florida, The United States of America
Tel: 1(772) 486-8280
Twit: @IDEAStweetsUs
Skype: ClayOnEarth



Richard Ross is a 27-year old, 3rd generation longshoreman, with 'deep family roots in this work.' He is a member of the International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO, and serves as comptroller of Dept. of Finances for Local # 1359-1860. 'My Local union has been chartered for over 80 years, and our international union has been in existence for 122 years. We have jurisdictions in all major ports on the east coast of the USA, major rivers, the Great Lakes, eastern Canada Ports, and Puerto Rico.'

Richard intends to become an 'influential labor leader for our generation' and hopes to 'restore the integrity of workers in blue collar jobs, and bring awareness of why workers are, or are not, as motivated and proficient as they should be.'  

Being a Longshoreman is long hours, rigorous and stressful, but rewarding. 'I dreamed about this job before knowing what it entailed: import/export of goods, both foreign and domestic. You don’t pay much attention to where products are made and transported unless you’re a buyer for a big retailer, or you’re in my line of work -- the Maritime Trade Industry. I ship, pack, check, deliver, navigate, secure (ships), repair (chassis/boxes), install (minor car add-ons), etc. Additionally, I involve myself with labor issues whether industry-related or not, organizing, lobbying, and educating for the next wave of impediments.'

For a time, as a child, Richard lived with grandparents in Jamaica, attending school there, an experience that 'once I got older, made me appreciate the luxury and liberty of my life here in the States.' Visiting Costa Rica 'reinforced my understanding of what I have to treasure back home regarding work conditions, lodging, politics, healthcare and legal system. We need to remind people where we would be without the labor movement. … Let's sharpen our eyes and ears, so we will know what we see and understand what we hear.'


CREDITS: Thanks to Tara Summerset for art illustration.


1st or 2nd Thursdays are monthly gatherings, building the growing progressive community. Share your petitions and other items of interest, make brief announcements. Enjoy the gathering, super programs, super people. Bring a friend! Free and open to the public.


Space Coast Progressive Alliance (SCPA) advances progressive policies that further civil and personal liberty, the environment, health care, education, labor, peace, social welfare, financial stability and international harmony. Florida non-profit founded in 2004.


Last modified on Friday, 02 May 2014 15:24
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