CROW earns golden honor from FL SEE
The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife was awarded a Gold Certification by Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism during its October board meeting for its Visitor Education Center, Wildlife Walk and Lunch and Learn programs.
“CROW’s participation in this process will help to standardize the way visitors approach ecotourism,” CROW Development & Education Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt said. “We are excited to be at the forefront of this endeavor and hope our community partners will join us in the near future.”
Rainbolt said FL SEE is a group that is trying to standardize the way that ecotours and ecotourism is represented in the state of Florida. She said as part of their outreach efforts they try to spread the word about this certification process at different events.
“I was approached at an event, Celebrate Cayo Costa Day,” Rainbolt said in 2016. “I was approached by one of their board members at the event. They thought because our Wildlife Walk was one of our newest program that CROW in general could really benefit from this certification.”
Rainbolt began the application process, which included a core set and a bonus set of criteria. For ecotour providers, she said the core criteria allows them to have the basic level of certification, while the bonus criteria helps them reach bronze, gold, silver or platinum status.
She said because CROW’s emphasis on maintaining relationships with not just the wildlife, but with healthy ecosystems in Southwest Florida they were able to obtain the bonus criteria.
The application was a little more than 200 questions, which was followed by Rainbolt going through a screening and application process with one of FL SEE’s board chairs.
“Following the interview process, there was actually a secret shopper. The way that FL SEE keeps the certifications very objective is by having someone sign up for the program and then attending it. Then you are notified some time after the program has been attended that you completed the criteria, both the core criteria and any bonus criteria if applicable,” Rainbolt said.
The Gold Certification is for three years.
“Currently there is only 14 Certified Ecotour providers through FL SEE certification program. There are four in Southwest Florida, three of which are in Lee County and currently we are the only one that exists on Sanibel. Hopefully by CROW participating in this program we will encourage other organizations who we partner with normally to do this as well. I personally feel that this is something that all of the groups on Sanibel, that provide ecotours, could definitely benefit from this endeavor,” Rainbolt said.
She said receiving the certification is a rewarding feeling and she is very proud of CROW.
“I feel that our organization is definitely taking the steps necessary to guarantee that the visitors who come to Southwest Florida will really identify with our mission. By seeing these types of certifications on different ecotours they will be able to make an educated decision on who they want to register with,” Rainbolt said.
The Lunch and Learn with Dr. Barron program is offered twice a month January through April. The first program begins on Jan. 10, 2018. This program provides an intimate lunch with Dr. Heather Barron, the hospital director, as she shares information about CROW’s role in supporting the connection of human, animal and environmental health.
The Wildlife Walks are held three days a week during off season and Monday through Friday once a day during season. The Wildlife Walks are a 90 minute program that includes an introductory presentation, as well as a guided tour through treatment areas of the hospital.
To attend one of the programs,or to learn more about them, visit www.crowclinic.org.