An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Sarasota County, USF Water Institute

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Booker High EcoExplorers learn about Florida’s natural wonders

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This June, ten lucky students from Booker High School in Sarasota spent a week snorkeling, boating, swimming, and taking long walks on Florida's beautiful beaches. These students were participants in EcoExplorers, an overnight camp which mixes classroom learning with a vigorous schedule of unique field trips to create the ultimate marine science camp experience.

While either watching a sea turtle nest on Casey Key or swimming with manatees in Crystal River, these students had the ideal opportunity to learn about the natural beauty of Florida, and how to protect it. Ultimately, the goal through EcoExplorers is to motivate these young students to become more aware of conservation issues in the community where they live, instilling in them a sense of pride and responsibility for Florida's natural resources. EcoCampers are asked to fill out questionnaires on the last day, and each one marked their time at the Camp as "excellent". Several students also discussed their desire to pursue educational studies in environmental or marine sciences toward an eventual career in conservation.

Since the camp's founding in 2015, S2S has been able to target the program to low-income students and provide the experience absolutely free of charge. For the 3rd Annual EcoExplorer Camp just this June, they have received support from Publix Charities, the Community Foundation of Sarasota, Booker High School, Triad Foundation, Sarasota Bay Estuaries Program, as well as the generous contributions from individuals, which provided scholarships to the campers.

Staff is scheduled to return to Booker High School in six months to follow-up with the campers, test their retention of knowledge, their continued interest in conservation issues, and career choices.