Nell says she's seen a huge increase in visitors looking to help restore and maintain the coastal county's marine preserves -- one of the few things other than "lie on the beach" that motivates spring breakers and snowbirds alike.
"Ecotourism has become huge now," she says. "One of the things you take away from that experience is that you should benefit the community. There's been a big perception shift that you're not just going somewhere for your own enjoyment, but to help that place as well."
In 2017, Manatee County saw 4,000 such volunteers donate 11,000 hours of their time to such projects as replacing marshlands, planting native shrubs, or taking kayaks out on the water to clean up the mangrove waterways.
"I love to see people look over their shoulder and see a bird land on something they just planted, or a dragonfly land in the marsh they just put in," she says. "Their faces light up when they see their work is making a difference."