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Young scholars from Veterans Park Academy go birding at Tarpon Bay

By Staff | May 24, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED The aspiring birders depart via kayak to paddle through Tarpon Bay looking for birds to add to their sightings list.

Students from the Veterans Park Academy for the Arts recently ventured to Tarpon Bay Explorers with hopes of checking birds off of their life list and expanding upon their Junior Bird Certification.

The certification is a Florida Birding Trail Program by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Jayne Johnston, a naturalist at Tarpon Bay Explorers, and teacher Melinda Lynch spearheaded the event. Johnston is also the education and membership chair of the Southwest Florida Audubon Society and mustered the funds for the students’ transportation through the society.

The kayaks and tour were provided for free by Tarpon Bay Explorers.

Johnston explained that her and Lynch’s passion for conservation and education inspired them to bring the fifth-grader after-school bird club to life.

Just after an hour of kayaking, the junior birders were able to check five new birds off their lists including brown pelican, green heron, yellow crowned night heron, least tern and magnificent frigate bird. Sightings during the trip elevated the young birders to the next level of certification, which consists of up to 25 to 49 species.

PHOTO PROVIDED The group of juvenile birders and parents with naturalist Jayne Johnston.

“Conservation starts with upcoming generations. Instilling memories and appreciation at a young age with trips like this will help conservation efforts down the road,” Adam Sauerland, program and education manager at Tarpon Bay Explorers, said. “We love to have groups like this come out and have a good time.”

“We couldn’t have been prouder of our fledgling birders and we hope they had just as awesome a time as I did,” he added.

Tarpon Bay Explorers is the official concession to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, providing low impact, recreational and educational activities for refuge visitors. A portion of its proceeds goes back to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to benefit the national refuges nationwide.

For more information, visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com or call 239-472-8900.

PHOTO PROVIDED A portion of the birding club holds up their junior birding certificates.

PHOTO PROVIDED Naturalist Jayne Johnston goes through her kayak introduction with the young birders.