New children’s area introduced at CROW
The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife introduced a new area for children in the Visitor Education Center recently to further educate youth about marine and wildlife conservation.
“This specific area we are having kids spending 45 minutes to over an hour just in this area,” CROW Development and Education Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt said. “It gives families another opportunity to bond with their children about conservation, which is really what we are trying to do here in the Education Center.”
She said about two and a half weeks ago the new children’s area was introduced.
“CROW has been engaging in a series of renovations in the last couple of years. In that series of renovations we wanted to include a couple of dynamic areas for children. The first step in that children’s renovation was the baby feeding area. Phase two is this children’s discovery area. Phase three will be our vet interactive admissions and diagnosis area,” she said.
The first phase was funded through a grant with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. The feeding area was designed to teach youngsters about what kind of efforts it takes CROW to take care of admitted neonatal and juvenile animals.
“Ideally we want babies to be reunited with their parents if possible, but if all avenues to reunite those babies with their parents have been exhausted then we want people to realize how much effort actually goes into their longterm care and recovery,” Rainbolt said.
The children’s discovery area, funded through the West Coast Inland Navigation District, was tailored to the elementary aged students.
“They have been pretty instrumental in the facelift of the Education Center,” she said of WCIND.
The area includes “sort it out,” which Rainbolt said is to teach not only children, but their parents about marine debris.
“Marine debris is essentially items that are placed out into the environment by people that shouldn’t be going there. It’s anywhere from cans to plastics, fishing line and even simple things like produce. An apple core actually takes about six weeks to biodegrade into the environment. Anything like fishing line can take anywhere from 600 years to more to break up into small enough pieces into the environment,” she said. “The presence of plastics and micro plastics in the environment is having a detrimental effect on the local environment and even us.”
This station teaches people how to responsibly discard items that are brought out into the environment in such appropriate recycling containers as aluminums, papers and monofilament line disposable canisters. She said the canister coincides with the Clear Your Gear initiative, a collaborative effort between numerous organizations and the City of Sanibel.
“Believe it or not, what we have noticed is it’s the children that end up teaching the parents about those important types of messages,” Rainbolt said.
Another portion of the children’s discovery area is the inclusion of literature regarding recycling, water quality and coastal environments and animals. Kindles also make up the space, providing youngsters with the opportunity to play such games as be a vet and helping wildlife without polluting.
The area also includes a mural, “Water is Life,” further emphasizing water issues going on around the island that are affecting wildlife. The mural was created by CROW Certified Vet Tech and Wildlife Rehabber Missy Fox.
Various coloring activities can be found in this space to accommodate every child’s learning styles.
“Anything from touching with the sorted out area, to reading, that audio visual, and the other type of learning that we wanted children to engage in is the kinesthetic style of learning, where they are actually coloring and being interactive,” she said.
Marine conservation related coloring books are available, including such species as sea turtles, snowy plovers and coastal wildlife.
The final section of the children’s discovery area was giving them the opportunity to come into close contact with some native species.
“Some of the newer live exhibits that we have incorporated into this area, the species comparison and profile of two of our native box turtles. One is the eastern box turtle, and the other is Florida box turtle. Since they are a semi aquatic turtle species, that again directly relates to the health and well-being of the waterways,” Rainbolt said.
A corn snake is the other species located in the special children’s area.
The third phase will be revealed in the near future.