Funding the Next Generation of Florida Conservationists
By: Kyle Grammatica
Youth from Columbia County, Florida are getting involved in wildlife conservation thanks to a $4,500 grant from the Foundation. To foster the exploration of Florida’s wetlands, the grant helped establish a Suwannee River Ducks Unlimited Youth Chapter and a wood duck breeding program.
As part of the program, the Fort White High School shop class constructed 30 wood duck breeding boxes. The boxes will be stationed on poles along waterways and equipped with predator shields to protect the wood ducks and their eggs. Other students will then work on maintaining the duck boxes and recording data on hatch rates, mortality, and the overall results of the breeding program. The project’s results will be shared in the local newspaper and social media. The Suwannee River Ducks Unlimited Chapter hopes to run the project for years to come, building a community dedicated to protecting our wetlands and wildlife.
Working with an organization like Ducks Unlimited also helps students learn about the connection between responsible hunting and environmental stewardship. Ducks Unlimited focuses on the conservation of wetlands habitat for the benefit of wildlife, hunters, and all people. They have worked to conserve 29,456 total acres in Florida alone. Learning from Ducks Unlimited’s passionate volunteers can inspire teens to embrace both hunting and conservation.
About Wood Ducks
Wood ducks are some of the most visually striking ducks in North America. They inhabit wooded, brushy, or other vegetated wetland areas. They nest in tree cavities near wetlands but will readily accept manmade nest boxes in place of these natural cavities. Natural nest cavities are sometimes in short supply, so manmade nest boxes are essential to ensuring these ducks have ample opportunity to breed. In recent decades, the production of wood duck nest boxes has fallen, so student programs like this one are a vital way to increase nest box numbers and keep the wood duck population thriving.
To support youth outdoor education projects like this one, purchase our Wildlife Foundation of Florida license plate online here!