COASTAL CONVERSATIONS: SPENDING A WEEK AT MARINE CAMP

campby Laura Tiu, UF/IFAS Sea Grant Marine Agent

Florida Sea Grant has a long history of supporting environmental education for youth and adults to help them become better stewards of the coastal zone. This is accomplished by providing awareness of how our actions affect the health of our watersheds, oceans and coasts. Many of the Sea Grant youth activities use curriculum developed by Sea Grant and geared toward increasing student competency in math, science, chemistry and biology.

One local education opportunity for budding marine biologist “wannabes,” or any youth interested in marine science, is the Camp Timpoochee Marine Science Camp in Niceville. This summer’s camp, which sold out early, was July 20-23 and cost $240 for the week.

If Marine Camp sounds interesting to someone you know, visit http://florida4h.org/camps_timpoochee/ for the 2016 dates.

A daily snack from the canteen and a summer camp T-shirt are included in the camp fees, along with three nutritious meals per day prepared on site by our certified food safety staff. All cabins are air-conditioned.

Marine Camp is open to 4-H members and non 4-H members between the ages of 8-13. Campers get to experience Florida’s marine environment through fishing, boating snorkeling, games, STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) activities and other outdoor adventures. University of Florida Sea Grant Marine Agents and State 4-H Staff partner to provide hands-on activities exploring and understanding the coastal environment.

Campers at the 2015 camp were able to get up close and personal with turtles, snakes, and an invasive lion fish. They learned about sea turtles, boating safety and the importance of sea grasses. Seine nets were used to collect and explore shoreline plants and animals including a variety of crabs, fish, shrimp and clams.

This year a small aquaponics demonstration was held on-site to introduce campers to a relatively new water-based food production system. Campers also designed and created automatic fish feeders as part of a 4-H Ag Innovators Experience Fish Farm Challenge.

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