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Local marine education program helps get kids on Southwest Florida waters

Posted: 7:54 PM, May 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-16 12:47:54-04

Protecting Paradise takes everyone, including some of the youngest Southwest Floridians.

While some children live close to the water, and regularly get to experience Sunday Funday, there are kids who live more inland - meaning less access to marine life exposure. Though location may play a factor, Captiva Cruises and the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Commission recognized other reasons that may limit children from exploring our waterways (socio-economic limitations, transportation, etc.)

To tackle this need, the two organizations launched No Child Left on Shore. The program’s an effort to provide educational opportunities to Southwest Florida children through partnering with local schools and non-profit organizations.

FOX 4 joined New Horizons of SWFL , as nearly 40 of their students boarded the S.S. Playtime and headed out on the water for a trip from Sanibel to Cayo Costa Island. Along the way, Captiva Cruises’ Educator Richard Fenkel engaged students about our ecological system, and marine life. At one point, dolphins escorted the boat, and the students squealed in excitement.

While on the island, students were encouraged to comb the beach for items that intrigued them. Fenkel gathered everyone to discuss their findings, and even presented a few treasures of his own.

Fenkel says these trips are all about exposure.

“A lot of these kids have never been to a beach, never been on a boat, never been along the water before,” Fenkel said.

“These first time experiences is what makes this program a very special program to be involved in.”

For some of these students, it might not have been their first time on the beach.

But, they did learn something for the first time.

When asked what was something the learned that they didn’t know before, they told FOX 4:

“Animals nurse here.”

“You can find a lot of stuff by beachcombing."

“This is brackish water so it’s salt water and fresh water mixed together.”

Knowledge and experiences their leaders and organizations hope will spark further interest in enjoying and protecting our paradise.

If you’d like more information on the program, click here .