From March 7-10, TESI Environmental Leaders Fellows embarked on a mission to learn more about environmental research, education and civic engagement in Florida during their Spring Break Field Experience. Learn more below!
Monday, March 7, 2022
Location: Cedar Key
During a living shoreline tour (via golf carts), led by Dr. Savanna Barry, students learned how the Cedar Key community has been involved in developing living shorelines in the area to help stop erosion. After lunch, the group visited the Shell Mound Archaeological Site to hear from Dr. Michelle LeFebvre about what archaeology can tell us about our past environment. Once the group returned to Cedar Key proper, students were tasked with conducting interviews with locals to see what environmental topics and issues they were most concerned about. The day ended with students tagging horseshoe crabs as part of the Florida Horseshoe Crab Watch.
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Location: Cedar Key
Students started the morning off on a boat tour of clam aquaculture operations along Cedar Key, led by Leslie Sturmer and Captain Kenny McCain from the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station. During lunch, Sturmer explained the history of clam aquaculture in the area and how community involvement was key to its success after gill nets were banned in the 1990s. After lunch, the group visited Manatee Springs in Chiefland where they had the chance to swim in the largest single spring flowing into the Suwannee River. Even though camping in the Ocala National Forest was called off due to severe weather, students instead informally gathered around a backyard campfire to cook and reflect on the day’s experiences.
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Location: Ocala, Silver Springs State Park
The group got their feet wet with a morning paddle along a small, tranquil tributary of the Silver River. For many students, this was their first time in a kayak. Along the way, the group spotted alligators, turtles, wading birds and more. Next, the students headed to the Silver River Museum to meet up with Alan Ivory to learn more about education and outreach. Before the field trip, the group was treated to a private boat tour along the Silver River, led by a park ranger. A manatee and her calf greeted the group as the boat cruised along the water. After the tour, students observed as Alan led a virtual field trip with first and second graders, took part in hands-on lessons designed for K-12 students, and got to explore the exhibits at the Silver River Museum with Silver River Museum director, Scott Mitchell.
Thursday, March 10, 2022
Location: Gainesville, UF Field and Fork Farm
In the spirit of learning more ways to get involved in the local community, the group stayed in Gainesville to tour the University of Florida Field and Fork Farm. Dr. Dina Liebowitz led students on a full sensory experience while teaching them about sustainable agriculture on campus and its role in providing food security to those in need. Students had the chance to taste many varieties of fresh herbs, pick fresh fruit and veggies and learn more about planet-friendly agricultural practices. After the tour, the students washed their harvest and tossed together a salad to complement lunch. During lunch, Liebowitz shared her career journey with students and explained practical ways they can get involved with the farm. The day concluded with time for the students to work on their final projects and share personal reflections and takeaways from the week.