Grant to help boost learning experience

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By Pam Darty

Months before the government sequestration, the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge was awarded a grant to supplement Cedar Key School science field-study trips to the Refuge for real world learning. Suddenly, the federal sequestration required that all grant funds be held in case of a government emergency; Refuge staff and school officials were very disappointed.

Several months went by, and through dedicated work on the part of US Fish and Wildlife Service Regional office, the funding again became available.  Without wasting any time, Refuge Ranger Pam Darty and Science teacher Raymond Powers cranked out the shopping list of technical equipment that would assist in the field research. It was Christmas in October.

The Ranger arrived at CKS with several boxes to be opened by Powers, his students and Cedar Key School principal Darby Allen. All the study and safety equipment to keep students busy for days was unpacked, sorted and stored for the upcoming field trip to the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge.   

“The goal of our Cedar Key Water Quality Project is to involve students and make them aware of the importance of clean, fresh water to the health of both the Cedar Key environment and the seafood industry,” said Powers. “Our clam farms are totally dependent on unpolluted Gulf waters and monitoring the rivers that flow into the Cedar Key estuary is vital for the survival of the industry. We are extremely grateful to the USFWS, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge for helping us fund this project.”

Refuge managers support environmental and conservation education, especially this field study project connecting students to the health of the historic Suwannee and the invaluable Gulf. For more information, call the Refuge at 352-493-0238.