SCCF preserve serves as learning tool for island youth
Throughout the school year, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation works with The Sanibel School to provide environmental educational field trips to students at the nearby Pick Preserve.
On Nov. 4, the school’s fourth-grade classes – about 40 youth – took part in a habitat study that involved field work and surveying with Richard Finkel, an educator with SCCF. He explained that the Pick Preserve is part of SCCF’s list of land holdings and located across the street from the school.
“Because of its proximity to the school, it has great potential to be utilized for environmental education,” he said, adding that the SCCF helps incorporate the trips into the curriculum. “We offer to work with the teachers every year and do environmental education programs for all the grades.”
Each field trip is tailored to the grade and what the students are studying in class.
For the fourth-graders, they spent a couple of hours at the preserve conducting field work on the interior of Sanibel. They examined the different habitats, including the upland ridges and low-lying wetlands, and observed the different types of vegetation that can be found in each of the habitats.
“They were making observations along the way about what they saw – the animals and the plants,” Finkel said. “In the interior wetlands, they were able to do some surveying of small fish and macroinvertebrates in the Pick Preserve pond.”
The students identified a variety of species, such as water bugs, water striders, both dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, beetle larvae, fishing spider and whirligig beetles, along with crawfish.
“They discussed why the freshwater wetlands we have are so important for the food chains and for providing the animals and the plants a home and habitat and nursery areas – and for absorbing flood waters,” he said.
The fourth-graders also spent some time at the Pick Preserve gazebo, where they recorded their observations and wrote about their field trip experience.
“They’ll be continuing their studies,” Finkel noted.
He explained that the same group has a field trip planned in December to head to the SCCF Nature Center and continue their habitat study by visiting and observing the trails located on that land.
SCCF is the largest private owner of conservation lands on the island. Bordering city and state owned properties, Pick Preserve is a large tract with a nature trail that runs through it, according to Finkel.
“The Pick Preserve is an excellent opportunity to incorporate environmental education into the students’ curriculum and incorporate hands-on learning opportunities out in the field that can reinforce classroom studies,” he said. “It is an excellent outdoor learning classroom.”
For more information about the SCCF, visit www.sccf.org.