Rae Burns Leaving Town of FMB

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On Wednesday, August 28, the Town of Fort Myers Beach will lose one of its most recognizable and well-liked employees, when Environmental Coordinator Rae Burns will conclude her final day with our local government.

“My husband Jeremy recently accepted a really good job offer with Verizon Wireless in the Orlando area, so even though I love it here, this is a career move we have to make. If I would have been with the Town through November 15, that would be my fourth anniversary here, and I absolutely enjoyed my time with the Town and am sad to leave, but you must do what you have to do. It is a little strange that my last day falls in the middle of the week, but I gave the Town a month’s notice to figure out what they wanted to do with my job, and if they fill my position by then, I can even help to train the new person, so that is why my final day in August 28.”

While Rae is one of the Town’s youngest employees, this was not her first full-time position since attaining her undergraduate degree from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). “My first real job was working in the Lee County laboratory for about a year, collecting and preparing water samples, along with all the kinds of grunt work that one does when you are at the bottom of the totem pole!”

In addition to her FGCU degree, Rae earned her Master’s online from Clemson University. “I did that because FGCU does not offer a Master’s degree in my program, so I would have had to leave the area, to go to either the University of Central Florida or the University of Florida, but Jeremy and I had already met and, while not yet married, knew that our future was together, so I wanted to remain in Southwest Florida with him, so the online degree from Clemson allowed me to check all those boxes. I don’t live and die on Clemson National Championship football games though, as FGCU is where I met Jeremy, so that is my school through-and-through!”

When reflecting on her various duties with the Town, Rae said she will most miss those that involve birding. “Nesting shore birds on Fort Myers Beach are so interesting, especially during mating season, as the babies could not be any cuter! I love to keep track of all the various different kinds of species, particularly in the Critical Wildlife Area, as nesting shore birds tell you so much about the overall environmental quality of Fort Myers Beach, so that is the coolest thing.”

Magnificent Beach Environment

Recognizing that she is one of the Town’s youngest employees, she viewed her time with Fort Myers Beach as a great learning experience, both personally and professionally. “Working with the Town has helped me to grow so much, especially with my ‘people skills,’ because those are essential when you work in government with the general public. When I was with the Lee County laboratory, you are basically all by yourself, but when you work for a Town like Fort Myers Beach, you interact with so many people on so many different topics! Floodplain management, for instance, is something I never expected to get into so much, but now I really like it and it is one of the better parts of my job. Another thing that really surprised me was the legal aspect of this position, with appearance before the Town’s Special Magistrate and other court dockets, so that was an eye-opener and a real education.”

Rae hopes to resume her government-related environmental career in the near future: “I have two similar job position interviews with communities within an hour of Orlando in the next few weeks, so – fingers crossed – one of them will come my way! I am eager to continue my career in government service.”

While Rae looks forward to her future, she will most definitely miss Fort Myers Beach! “I truly feel there is not another place like Fort Myers Beach, as it is a very unique kind of animal. I love that the Town’s Comprehensive Plan actually says that one of its major goals is to ‘Keep Fort Myers Beach Funky,’ as that is just the coolest thing! I love that the Town is leading the way with environmental initiatives like the plastic straw ban and hope that continues with items like plastic bags. Overall, this has been a fun, fantastic and interesting job, and I thoroughly enjoyed all my experiences here, and I appreciate everything this community has taught me. I will miss everyone here at Fort Myers Beach, so please take care of our magnificent beach environment and yourselves!”

 

By Gary Mooney
gary@fortmyersbeach.news