Rebecca Mott, IRG Education Coordinator
This past summer our education partners, Inwater Research Group (IRG), brought an immersive conservation experience to teachers in Pasco County, FL. Pasco County School District, a recent partner of ours and IRG’s Traveling Trunk program purchased twelve trunks to use in their classrooms. These trunks allow students to get a hands-on glimpse into the life of marine biologists and into the world of sea turtle conservation while learning school curriculum. This means every student in Pasco County Schools will now have a chance to experience these award-winning programs.
In addition to this, Pasco County found grant funding to host a professional development day with their teachers. This would mean a trip over to the west coast, a research recon mission, and a field day with local educators for our IRG partners. With picture perfect weather, local hotspots of turtle activity, and a boat full of excited teachers, the day was looking promising. Within no time, IRG’s research crew had already located several turtles to bring aboard our boat for work up. Teachers were able to see first-hand how they collect turtles, amass valuable data from each individual, and what that means overall for the protection of these animals. They also learned how they can participate in sea turtle conservation themselves and how to encourage their students to do so as well.
From here teachers joined the crew in the classroom of the Energy and Marine Center, a local gem that educates thousands of students a year on STEM initiatives. Teachers would now have a chance to see how the trunk programs reflect actual sea turtle research. Our programs utilize the same tools and techniques we use in the field, so teachers were able to step into the role of biologist and practice (on turtle models) what they had just seen on the water.
Programs such as these are so important to the conservation community as well as to research and education sectors. Bringing together scientists with teachers allows us to remove many barriers that currently exist between those practicing science and those teaching it. From here, Pasco County teachers are now fully equipped and motivated to present our programs to the entire school district. This means thousands of students, who have sea turtles in their own “backyard” will learn about their reptilian neighbors and how to be good ambassadors for their recovery and longevity.
National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation