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Bringing Nature Education to Students

By: Kyle Grammatica

Some creative teachers in Pinellas County have found a way to bring nature education to students during the stay at home order. Science resource teachers Martyne LaDuke and Ginger Rehm have started a series of videos called “Life Science at a Social Distance.” These videos give kids who are stuck at home an opportunity to connect to nature and learn about wildlife. Current episodes  focus on the lubber grasshopper and antlions; future episodes will explore iconic Florida wildlife like alligators and sable palm trees. The duo typically bring the county’s fourth grade students to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg or Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs to give hands-on lessons. They wanted to ensure that students didn’t miss out on experiencing this, so they decided to turn the lessons into a video series that everyone can watch and learn from! LaDuke said, “I think it’s more important now than ever that students get to experience a little bit of the outdoors. While we’re all inside and connected to our devices, it instills the importance of the environment.

The video series can be watched here.

Our Outdoor Youth Education Work

One of our main priorities is to provide youth with formative experiences in nature. Young people are now spending less time outdoors despite its psychical and mental health benefits. In a typical week, only six percent of nine to 13 year olds play outside on their own, while the average youth spends 53 hours per week indoors using electronic media. We’re working to reverse this trend. We are Florida’s largest private funder of youth outdoor education and work closely with the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network, a consortium of 300+ private and public partners providing formative outdoor experiences annually to more than 200,000 Florida children and teens. Our Foundation and donors provide the summer camp scholarships, school field trip funds, and outdoor gear and educational materials needed to raise a new generation that learns from and loves the outdoors.

One of the projects we are currently funding is the renovation of historic Everglades Youth Conservation Camp in Palm Beach County. More than 25,000 children and teens have attended EYCC since the early 1960s. We’re also planning for the long term: funded by outright or planned gifts, the Children and Nature Endowment will provide permanent funding for Florida’s nation-leading youth outdoor programs and for them to remain vital for generations to come.

Outdoor youth education is a cause worth supporting, and with dedicated educators like Martyne LaDuke and Ginger Rehm, great things can be accomplished.

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