The youth enjoyed outdoor activities at wilderness parks and preserves
Timucuan Parks Foundations hosted the Groundwork Jacksonville Green Team Youth Corps in local wilderness parks and preserves. Each year, TPF partners with Groundwork Jacksonville to provide programming for their Green Team teens. This year, 22 teens and their mentors enjoyed healthy outdoor recreation and fun in the Timucuan Preserve, Dutton Island Preserve, and Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park.
At Dutton Island Preserve, the teens were led on a nature hike by Master Naturalist Ayolane Halusky that included wildlife viewing, learning about native plants, making rope out of palmetto fronds, tracking techniques, and experiencing nature through the five senses. The Green Team were joined by TPF volunteers and local Boy Scout Troop 37 to fish off the dock and to cook lunch over an open fire.
TPF also hosted the teens for a kayaking trip along the Fort George River in the Timucuan Preserve. The group launched from Alimacani Park and Boat Ramp and kayaked along the south end of Little Talbot Island where they stopped for swimming and seining and learning about the marine life from the city of Jacksonville parks naturalist Jolie Schlieper.
A “Hike into History” at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, led by the park’s naturalist, Stephen Klem, included a walk on the beach and stories of historic Manhattan Beach.
“A key priority for TPF is to address health and equity issues by connecting more people to the parks, particularly non-traditional audiences who can benefit physically and mentally from being outdoors in Jacksonville’s ‘wilderness’ parks and preserves,” said Felicia Boyd, TPF program and outreach director. “We especially enjoy engaging these urban teens in fun park projects to learn about Jacksonville’s natural environment, history, and recreational opportunities.”
The Groundwork Jacksonville Green Team Youth Corps is made up of teens from Jacksonville’s Emerald Trail neighborhoods who are selected, mentored, and trained to implement a variety of environmental remediation and conservation projects in the urban core. TPF, along with its national, state, and city park partners, introduces the group to the Timucuan Preserve and other preservation parks where they can engage in healthy outdoor recreation and service-learning projects including kayaking, hiking, watershed cleanups, and park beautification and resiliency projects.
Grants from the National Environmental Education Foundation and REI help fund TPF’s outdoor adventure and service-learning projects for diverse youth, like the Groundwork teens and others. The programs are designed to introduce the city’s youth to Jacksonville’s parks and preserves and to help them learn about the environment, preservation, their city’s rich history, and careers in public lands.