Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Fort White Students Take Learning Outdoors

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Over 200 Fort White Middle School sixth grade students recently experienced a dynamic outdoor classroom at Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Columbia County. Students participated in experiential education activities such as water conservation, macro-invertebrates, prescribed burning, pollution awareness and more.

Students gather at the Ichetucknee Head Spring to hear from Dr. Marc Minno, SRWMD District Water Resource Coordinator, on the importance of water quality efforts.

“The goal of the event is to expose students to the natural systems that they will be learning about throughout their middle and high school curriculum,” said Sam Cole, event coordinator and environmental specialist with the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. “We’ve found that many students from the local area have never even visited the park.”

Executive Director Noah Valenstein of the Suwannee River Water Management District said, “Collaboration with our schools, the District, and environmental experts allows students to experience not only physical access to these priceless areas, but also opens the window to experiential learning and life-long impacts.”

Since 1999 the event has hosted more than 1000 students from Fort White Middle School and expanded over the years to include more topics to ensure students receive a well-rounded experience.

Students complete work assignments and essays as part of the event.

“Every year our students look forward to the event,” said Trini Johannesen, sixth-grade teacher at Fort White Middle School and director of the Fort White Parknership. “Students have produced project-based displays, videos, power point presentations and story books based on the event. These have been presented at various school and community functions.”

The Fort White Parknership was created between the state park and school to provide organized opportunities for students to experience the outdoors. The Fort White Parknership is part of the state-wide Learning in Florida’s Environment (LIFE) program that is operated by Friends of Florida’s State Parks organization.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On November 23, 2016, S. Smith from Lake City wrote:

What a great program! Imagine, some of these students had never been to this park, one of the treasures of Columbia County. Ft. White schools are doing some amazing things!

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