Environmental Education

Refuge biologist Jonathan Chandler explains a bat acoustic monitoring system which he is about to install in the lighthouse tower

Refuge biologist Jonathan Chandler explains a bat acoustic monitoring system which he is about to install in the lighthouse tower

Educational opportunities for students are one way to help ensure that wildlife areas such as the Refuge will be protected and cared for over time. Armed with knowledge of conservation and environmental protection early on, young people become stewards of our environment later in life.

Friends Supports Education

Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge supports Environmental Education programs by providing volunteer teaching assistants, tour guides, and general assistance, and by funding needs ranging from transportation scholarships and replacement of consumable supplies, to professional development opportunities for the lead Environmental Education staff person.

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Thanks to this support, and with the initiative of our Environmental Education Ranger, the number of people served has more than doubled in the last 4 years.

Partnerships have also been established with organizations and efforts such as:

A Range of Programs

The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge offers environmental education programs aimed at a full range of age groups. Most programs take place in and near the Environmental Education building, however some programs are off the refuge.

Tots on Trails: This short, ranger-led program is designed to acquaint preschool children with the plants and animals of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the natural world. Meets on the second Thursday of each month at 11:00 a.m. Group size is limited to 10 children. Call the Refuge at (850) 925-6121 to register.

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School-age Program: This audience represents the Refuge's major effort in environmental education with over 12,000 students served last year. Teachers choose one of 18 programs based on their curriculum, and accompany their class to the Refuge, with chaperones as needed. For details on these programs, go to Nature’s Classroom.

Public Festivals: Two large public festivals are held annually on the Refuge: the Monarch Festival held on the 4th Saturday in October and the WHO (Wildlife Heritage and Outdoors) Festival held on the first Saturday in February. The festivals feature many educational exhibits, wildlife tours, music and food for visitors of all ages.

Tours and Hikes: Special tours and hikes are offered periodically for groups of visitors. These outings focus on specific aspects of the Refuge environment. Popular tours include the fall and winter bird tours; refuge rambles and behind-the-gates E-tram tours. Check the calendar for upcoming Tours and Hikes and call the refuge to sign up.

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Junior Refuge Ranger Day Camp: This specially designed day-camp takes place in the summer and provides a variety of fun and educational outdoor activities. Campers range from outgoing kindergarten to outgoing six grade. Applications will be available in late spring on the FWS website.

Second Sunday at the Refuge: The Second Sunday programs are designed to share the natural and cultural history of this area with the public. Presentations, which begin at 2:00 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month, are followed by light refreshments and lively discussions. Check the calendar for more details.