Conservancy resumes field trip program with Rookery Bay

September 9, 2021

Partnership allows more students to participate and adds ‘on the water’ research

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has resumed its partnership with Rookery Bay Natural Estuarine Research Center’s SURVIVORS program, a science field-trip program for seventh-grade students in Collier County that was paused due to the pandemic. The program will start again in October for students from Golden Gate and Manatee middle schools.

“We had to cancel a few field trips when the schools shut down and we couldn’t do them at all last year. We are excited to be back on the water.”

Tonya Zadrozny, Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Education Program Coordinator

Rookery Bay started the program in 2015, holding sessions at Rookery Bay’s educational learning center and then at the field station at the edge of the estuary. The Conservancy partnered in 2019 to double the number of students who could participate in the program, bringing its Good Fortune II, a 35-passenger pontoon boat, to take participants out on the water for hands-on observation and data collection.

Now visiting groups of up to 60 students and teachers are split into two groups, one that explores lab work on plankton, habitat and understanding fisheries using real tools that scientists use at Rookery Bay’s field station. Another group goes out on the boat to observe and assess the health of the estuary by comparing water quality and salinity in two locations before switching experiences with the other group.

“We wanted to be able to bring more students out. We have a strong history with the Conservancy, and they already had a dock and boat, so we decided to work together to make it a more immersive experience. Studying water quality becomes more exciting when they are surrounded by it. It’s really rewarding working with an agency we have a long history with. We get more done working together to create better stewards in this community with an interest in science and sense of place.”

Jeannine Windsor, Rookery Bay Research Reserve’s Education Specialist and Outreach Coordinator

The work of the Conservancy was started in 1964 to block plans to build a road through Rookery Bay across Gordon Pass into the Ten Thousand Island. The field trips are funded through field trip specialty programs for Title 1 schools in the Collier County School District.

Head on over to Rookery Bay Research Reserve website for more information on our partnership and the SURVIVORS program – Education at Rookery Bay | National Estuarine Research Reserve