Fish-Tale Marina sponsored three boating trips featuring marine education with students of three different grade levels from Beach Elementary School last week.
Beach school first graders took a trolley ride with educators and aides to the south island marina last Wednesday, hopped on the Estero Express II, glided through Estero Bay and visited the north shoreline of Lovers Key to learn about certain wildlife of Florida in a hands-on way. On Thursday morning, the kindergarteners experienced a similar trip, followed by the second graders that afternoon.
The overall student mission was to recognize marine life within its environmental habitat, record what they saw in individual journals, write a summary at the end of the trip and draw pictures to fortify what they saw.
First graders, educators, aides and marina staff enjoyed the boating marine excursion.
"We are so exciting to get these marine life excursion trips going," said Linsey Shafer, Fish-Tale Marina's marine biologist and trip leader. "(Fish-Tale Marina co-owners) Al and Kathy Durrett wanted to do more educational stuff and use the tour boats for more than just dolphin tours.
Capt. Randy led the pontoon boat expedition. During the boat ride, students pointed out osprey, osprey nests, pelicans, mangroves and egrets and learned about each.
While on the island beachfront, the students were coupled up, given a hand-held fishing net and told to scoop up sea life and shells. From there, the collectibles (including crabs, pinfish, mojarra fish, sea stars and seahorses) were transferred to a plastic water container and viewed.
Students then learned how to use a seine net as a method of fishing and finished off by collecting shells in individual sealable bags.
Back on the boat, students inspected the marine life, held fish and continued to add to their journals on the return trip.
"These are our future boaters, even though some of them have never been on the water," said Al Durrett. "It's our way of giving back to the elementary school besides money."
"These are our environmental stewards," added Kathy Durrett.
Shafer has developed more partnerships for educational boating tours with other area schools. Summer camps will also be involved.
"What instigated the program to be enhanced began when we hired Linsey," said Al Durrett. "One of her main jobs is to work with any elementary school that wants to work with on-water projects, teaching and learning. She's done a 110 percent job in organizing this."
Beach Elementary Principal Larry Wood knows how important the relationship is between the school and the marina.
"Al and Kathy Durrett continue to be great friends of Beach Elementary," he said. "They donate money, time and resources to benefit our kids and their families. This time, they donated the boat, the captain and Linsey so that kids could go out and observe nature first-hand. They were so excited to go."