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Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and Friends group educate local school children

The Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge was recently awarded a $12,420 Great Ideas Initiative grant from the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Florida. The grant will fund an intern to work with refuge staff members to enhance and expand the educational programs at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

A volunteer sitting in the shade with a group of seven young ladies.
A refuge volunteer teaches a group of students. Photo by Ronald Frendreis, refuge volunteer.

Environmental education is one of the primary objectives of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee is an excellent place to bring a class to conduct hands-on environmental education activities and programs. On average 3,000 to 4,000 school children, primarily from Palm Beach and Broward Counties, visit the refuge every year.

Lessons taught at the refuge cover topics from investigations using the five senses to characteristics of scientific knowledge, and are based on Florida Academic Standards. Programs are grade-specific with traditional educators working hand-in-hand with environmental educators to create a well-rounded educational experience.

Programs start within the traditional classroom setting, using reference materials, textbooks, and lectures to build a strong foundation for various environmental education lessons. The programs move to field experiences on the refuge where the lessons are reinforced in a real world setting. Interpretive tours and environmental education are conducted in natural settings emphasizing natural systems as teaching aids. Once back in the classroom, activities extend from creating writing lessons, to publishing stories, or science fair projects.

The Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Florida, started the Great Ideas Initiative in 2016. It provides grants of up to $25,000 to non-profits with proposals that enhance the lives of Palm Beach County’s children. To qualify, the non-profit must have an annual operating budget of $1 million dollars or less and been in business for at least two consecutive years. Children’s Services Council, a special district created by Palm Beach County voters, provides leadership, funding, and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe, and strong.

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