No Child Left on Shore Trip Connects Teens to Coast
On Nov. 4, middle and high school students from New Horizons of Southwest Florida came out to Captiva for a No Child Left On Shore field trip. The No Child Left on Shore program is a joint outreach initiative between SCCF and Captiva Cruises to provide youth who rarely interact with our coastal ecosystem the chance to experience it up close.
28 middle and high school students and six New Horizons staff boarded Captiva Cruises’ motor catamaran ‘The Playtime’ with the Captiva Cruises crew and SCCF Environmental Educator Richard Finkel for an afternoon of cruising, shoreline exploration, and environmental discovery.
The group observed manatees at the marina, and dolphins swam near the boat as it cruised the back bay waters of Pine Island Sounds.
“Seeing dolphins swim alongside us was one of many ‘first time’ experiences students had throughout the day,” Finkel said. “We’re hopeful these encounters with our coastal ecosystem gave them a new appreciation for the importance of our back bay estuary.”
Students then had the opportunity to explore the shoreline of a barrier island only accessible by boat, where various shells and marine life were discovered. They marveled at small, colorful coquina clams and speedy mole crabs within the surf zone before of course splashing into the Gulf waters.
A trawl net was used to observe spiny box puffer fish, pinfish, triggerfish, silver trout, mojarra, cowfish, a flounder, and an Atlantic spadefish — which were all safely returned to their seagrass habitat.
“Seeing the joy and enthusiasm in the faces of the children throughout the trip was truly heart warming. Every minute was cherished, and the memories created will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact,” said Elijah Urias, area coordinator at New Horizons of Southwest Florida. “The experience of going on this trip was nothing short of transformative.”
Iris, a student on the field trip, reflects on the experience:
“On the ride to the island the air felt so lovely, and it felt like there was so much to our world. I was amused by the dolphins jumping in and out of the water — I’ve never seen such delightful dolphins up close,” she wrote. “When we reached the island, the sand was so comforting. I wanted to sleep in the sand, and the sun was shining so beautifully. We collected shells as we walked along the island, and I found such pretty shells. The trip was fun! I felt so much joy on the ride and would definitely go again.”
One student, Andres (pictured), wrote a poem based on the field trip.
As everyone on the Playtime, every fellow
As we sit aboard feeling the sea breeze
Things that arose from down below
Every moment just there to seize
Finding things that had seemed strange
Learning and feeling, touching, seeing
Lengths I’ve never travelled so far in range
And just the presence of being…there
New Horizons of Southwest Florida‘s mission is to empower under-resourced youth to reach their full potential through tutoring, mentoring, community partnerships, and faith-building. They aim to see all at-risk youth complete high school with a plan for the future to become contributing members of society.
SCCF’s No Child Left On Shore fills the vital need of providing local youth with an informative and fun way to gain experiential knowledge of the ecology of the region’s marine environment. This enriching initiative enables local youth to form a deeper connection to their coastal surroundings and spark their curiosity.
Interested in learning more or becoming a sponsor of a No Child Left On Shore field trip? Please contact Richard Finkel at email@example.com. SCCF gratefully acknowledges the support of The L.A.T. Foundation, the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Shirley Schlossman, and other donors who help sustain this program for our young Southwest Florida neighbors.