The organizations are recipients of NPF’s Open OutDoors for Kids Hybrid Learning Grant
Timucuan Parks Foundation (TPF) and its park partner, the National Park Service’s Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (TIMU), are the recipients of a National Park Foundation (NPF) Open OutDoors for Kids Hybrid Learning Grant. It was created to support connections between the national parks, its partners, and teachers and students from fourth to eighth grade. The $25,238 grant to TPF and TIMU will be used to support the Salt Marsh Superheroes Hybrid Learning Education Program. TPF will serve as the fiscal manager of the grant.
The Salt Marsh Superheroes program is a combination of screen-time and green-time activities designed to educate students and their families about the salt marsh ecosystem which makes up 75 percent of the Timucuan Preserve’s 46,000 acres. The students will learn about the plants and animals that inhabit a salt marsh and how this ecosystem is a superhero, protecting against flooding and erosion.
“This grant will provide the tools to teach the youth about how important the salt marsh is to our area,” said Felicia Boyd, outreach and program director for TPF. “It will help fund the Habitats at Home Exploration Kit which will be distributed to teachers and students. It will include things like bird field guides, nature journals with colored pencils, a pocket lens for looking at smaller objects and binoculars for the students to use to catch a glimpse of wildlife.”
TIMU rangers and staff will work directly with teachers and students through a series of virtual field trips. The students will be given pre-virtual field trip exercises to complete, a Field Guide Scavenger Hunt to help them learn how to use a field guide, and nature observation tasks where they will look and listen for birds in their neighborhood and record what they find in their nature journals. They will also be taken virtually to a salt marsh to show them how they can compare and contrast the resources within the preserve with natural areas close to home.
“During the program, the students will also become part of our ‘TIMU Think Tank’ and will look closely at the challenges of protecting the preserve,” said Corinne Fenner, chief of interpretation and education for Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. “The students will work together to come up with solutions to the challenges and create video presentations to present their findings. This will help them build their critical thinking skills and help develop their organization and public speaking abilities. It will also help make them become better stewards, or superheroes, for our national parks and natural places.”
NPF’s Open OutDoors for Kids Hybrid Learning Grant will provide funding for the cost of equipment for 500 students. TIMU is working with Duval County Public School teachers to deliver the Salt Marsh Superheroes Hybrid Learning Education Program.
A salt marsh is an important ecosystem that provides vital habitats for many plants and animals, helps filter rainwater and removes pollutants. Salt marshes are under constant threat from sea-level rise, destruction and overuse of pesticides and fertilizers.