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SCCF trails serve as learning tool for island youth

By Staff | Dec 23, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation biologist Mike Mills teaches fourth-graders from The Sanibel School about the SCCF’s Box Turtle Monitoring Project on Dec. 13. They learned about the research and how the SCCF uses radio telemetry to monitor the turtles.

Throughout the school year, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation works with The Sanibel School to arrange environmental educational field trips for students to the SCCF’s various lands.

On Dec. 13, the school’s fourth-grade classes – 36 students in total – headed to the SCCF Nature Center on Sanibel-Captiva Road to explore the nature trails and practice using their senses on a sensory awareness scavenger hunt. Led by SCCF educator Richard Finkel, they also had a chance to learn about herpetology from SCCF Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz, plus biologist Mike Mills.

“Students discussed the senses we use and listed sights, sounds, smells and some of the textures of various leaves, tree barks and other items along the trails,” Finkel said.

In addition, they named one of the participants in the SCCF Florida Box Turtle Project.

“The students were very excited that they got to name one of the box turtles in SCCF’s radio telemetry turtle monitoring project,” he said. “This turtle will now be known as ‘Boxberto.'”

PHOTO PROVIDED Fourth-graders from The Sanibel School got to name one of the turtles in the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation's Box Turtle Monitoring Project. They decided on “Boxberto.”

According to Finkel, the project began in 2002 with box turtles being measured and marked on both Sanibel and Captiva. Due to their long lives – 50 to 70 years in good conditions – they are a perfect species for long-term studies. Through the project, valuable information is being obtained relating to their habitats, population status and longevity.

He noted that each student field trip is tailored to the grade and what the classes are studying. For instance, the fourth-graders will now initiate a class study project in conjunction with the SCCF one.

“The students are looking forward to continuing their initial orientation to SCCF’s box turtle monitoring project with future classroom research, turtle population graphing and mapping the habitat use of Boxberto and other island box turtles,” Finkel said.

Teachers and the SCCF collaborate to incorporate the trips into the school curriculum.

“SCCF coordinates and conducts environmental education field trips and campus based activities at The Sanibel School throughout the year,” he said. “SCCF’s nature trails, which traverse Sanibel’s interior freshwater habitats and mid-island ridges, are an ideal resource for learning about these habitats and the uniqueness of Sanibel as a barrier island with interior freshwater habitats.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Habitat Management Program Director Chris Lechowicz talks to fourth-graders from The Sanibel School about herpatology on Dec. 13.

The SCCF is the largest private owner of conservation lands on the island.

For more information, visit www.sccf.org or call 239-472-2329.

PHOTO PROVIDED Fourth-graders from The Sanibel School explore the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Nature Center trails on a sensory awareness scavenger hunt on Dec. 13.

PHOTO PROVIDED Fourth-graders from The Sanibel School explore the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Nature Center trails on a sensory awareness scavenger hunt on Dec. 13.