A light rain greeted about 100 children from the Boys & Girls Club of Hernando County as they arrived at the Weekiwachee Preserve, but the sprinkles didn’t dampen their excitement. The children were there to learn about water resources through fun, hands-on exercises and explorations.
This is the third year District staff from several departments worked together to plan the popular field trip. The children, who ranged in age from kindergarten to fifth grade, rotated through age-appropriate activities, including a nature walk, water quality testing, a fossil display and watershed education exercises.
The kids swarmed the fossil display provided by Dave DeWitt, a District senior professional geologist.
“I am so going to tell my dad about this,” exclaimed six-year-old Robert Donahue, who peppered DeWitt and Carol Kraft, a District staff hydrologist, with dozens of questions about the fossils.
Cindy Hausman, District land use specialist, and Philip Rhinesmith, District senior environmental scientist, led groups of children on a nature walk where they discovered animal bones and shells to learn about and identify.
“I liked finding the bones and fossils,” said ten-year-old Angel Koeller. “It was amazing finding what they (animals and reptiles) left behind.”
According to tests given to the children before and after the field trip, the outing was more than just entertaining.
“Overall, the children in all age groups had a 25 percent gain in knowledge about water resources,” said Mary Margaret Hull, lead communications coordinator.
Most of the children had never been to the preserve. One of the goals of this trip was to expose the children to wildlife in their area and to inspire them to come back with their friends and families. That’s exactly what Logan Schlecht, 10, says he wants to do. “I would like to go fishing and on another nature hike.”
From top to bottom: 1) Dylan Poulin, 6, takes a closer look at one of the fossils. 2) Dave DeWitt, District senior professional geologist, tells Robert Donahue, 6, about the fossils on display. 3) Philip Rhinesmith, District senior environmental scientist, led children on a nature walk where they discovered several items to learn about and identify. 4) Jason Hust, District field technician supervisor, shows students how to look for insects in a water quality sample.