Through programs like UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County's impactful "Learning in Florida's Environment" (LIFE) Program, Myakka's Florida Park Service team regularly helps share Myakka's Magic with 4th and 5th grade students. Through collaborations with community educators, students become wildlife biologists, entomologists, marine scientists, and horticulturalists for the day. And importantly, such nature connection programs help build the foundation not only for appreciation of our precious Myakka, but for future stewardship of our public lands too.
Unfortunately, some children don’t experience this opportunity to meaningfully connect with Myakka’s Magic, as their schools can't afford the cost of busing to the park. Also, these programs can result in prohibitive equipment costs to Myakka River State Park.
Thanks to funding from Friends of Myakka River, nearly 500 students from Sarasota County Title 1 schools will participate in field trips to Myakka River State Park in the 2023-24 school year. Two of the three schools attending have never been to Myakka River State Park before. Friends of Myakka River also funded additional microscopes and plankton nets needed for the program.
"In a world where natural resources and time spent outdoors is increasingly limited, and screen time and physical and mental health issues are a continued challenge, LIFE provides a critical opportunity for children to have an enjoyable, hands-on educational experience in nature." said Dr. Katherine Clements of UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, who developed and leads the program. "We're extremely thankful to Friends of Myakka River for removing cost as a barrier for access to this important opportunity."
“Actively helping our youth build meaningful connections with Myakka River State Park is critical for the future protection of this important natural gem.” said Friends of Myakka River Executive Director Miri Hardy, PhD. “We are thankful to Dr. Katherine for her important work and honored to be able to support this impactful program at Myakka River State Park, to the benefit of our youth, future generations and our own.”
To support impactful Friends of Myakka River funding initiatives such as this one, please donate to our Giving Tuesday and Year End Appeal HERE. We thank you in advance for your gift!
For more information on Friends of Myakka River funding initiatives, please contact Miri Hardy.
Photo: Miri Hardy