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Beach preserve program educates students

December 25, 2012
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

For the second straight year, Beach Elementary third-graders learned about ecology in a "Home Sweet Home" program within Matanzas Pass Preserve.

On Wednesday, Dec. 19, Preserve "Mayor" Dorothy Rodwell and Preserve "Vice Mayor" Kathy Light instructed 15 students on the needs of certain plants and animals in three different types of communities. The program served as a visual, interactive concept to pique the youth's interests in nature and its surroundings.

After hearing about their task and being assigned a certain plant or animal, the students were led into the "Forest," "Wetland" and "Field" communities to see which community or communities their character needs of energy, air, water and shelter applied.

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“Mayor” Dorothy Rodwell tells the Beach school third-graders of their tasks at hand at Matanzas Pass Preserve.

"This is a genuine community right here behind me in Matanzas Pass Preserve," Rodwell said before leading the students within the preserve. "All living things within a community live with other living things. Each plant or animal has a job to do and a home on which to live. But, they just can't live anywhere. They have to live in a place where they can find all of their needs. So, they have to live in a special place that is just right for them."

Taking on the roles of various plants and animals, the students determined which of the three communities was best for them to survive in their home tour. Afterwards, the students "settled" into their appropriate communities and sought out letters from Ranger Jim in their respective community mailboxes. Some student's roles change when there is a change in one of the communities and newly acquired knowledge is needed to try to move into another community. To do so, they must "plead their case" in front of Judge Mopnar and their peers from other communities in a community court.

One of the roles was a long-legged fish nabber. It's job description was to eat fish and other water critters, give air to plants and return waste to the soil. The animal turned out to be a Great Blue Heron.

The students viewed and identified different real animals and plants along their home tour, such as crabs, tree snails, spiders and a raccoon as well as mangroves and Christmas berries.

The Friends of Matanzas Pass Preserve hosted two other schools this year: Tice Elementary and Bonita Springs Elementary. Last year, they hosted Heights Elementary, Bonita Springs Elementary and the Beach school.



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