Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Providing Youth Education Adventures On Both Land & Water

April 30, 2024
Youth Ed NCLOS 2

SCCF is dedicated to providing nature-based educational experiences to youth across Southwest Florida, which we do through Sanibel Sea School, programming at the K-8 Sanibel School, and our No Child Left on Shore initiative.

Kindergartners Observe Flora and Fauna at SCCF’s Pick Preserve

Last week, kindergarten students from the Sanibel School were amazed at just how much they were able to see while on a multi-faceted scavenger hunt for plants and wildlife at SCCF’s Pick Preserve’s Nature Trail — located directly across the street from the school.

Led by SCCF Educator Richard Finkel, students looked up and down, listened for, and felt some of the inhabitants within Sanibel’s interior habitats.

Spoonbills, egrets, ibises, swallow-tailed kites, osprey, sea grape, cabbage palms, strangler figs, snails, fish, dragonflies, spider webs, and even an alligator were observed from the nature tail boardwalk. Students used their observations to discuss food chains and food webs!

SCCF’s 26-acre Pick Preserve, located directly across the street from the Sanibel School, is part of a network of approximately 400 acres of conservation land managed by SCCF, the State of Florida, the City of Sanibel, and the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Since the Spring of 2000, SCCF has facilitated and conducted environmental education programs at the Pick Preserve to help integrate ecological studies into classroom curricula. The preserve was named for Tom and Sue Pick who purchased the property to be held as an SCCF preserve in perpetuity.

No Child Left on Shore

No Child Left On Shore is a partnership between SCCF and Captiva Cruises that fills a 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. On April 26, a waterborne field trip was provided for seventh graders from Mariner Middle School in Cape Coral.

The seventh-grade students have been using SCCF’s River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network (RECON) website to learn about the parameters of water quality within the Caloosahatchee estuary and how important real-time water quality data is to scientists, policymakers, and the general public.

“Special thanks to the generous donors of No Child Left on Shore, SCCF, and Captiva Cruises for getting my students out of the brick-and-mortar classroom to explore the wonders of nature,” said middle school teacher Melissa Upton. “We had a glorious few hours on the water collecting data and learning about the estuarine environment of Southwest Florida.”

no child left on shore captiva cruises

The students visited several sites within Pine Island Sound aboard Captiva Cruises’ motor catamaran “The Santiva” with Finkel and Captain Keith Smith. Students were able to take salinity and temperature readings and look at the clarity of the water within seagrass beds, muddy substrates, and oyster bar habitats. A seine net was used to observe samples of marine life, which were then released back into the water. An arrow crab, arrow shrimp, striped burrfish, Atlantic spade fish, pinfish, a sea star, and various types of macroalgae were observed and recorded on students’ data sheets.

“No Child Left on Shore fills a 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,” said SCCF Environmental Educator Richard Finkel.

Students were also delighted with sightings of resident bottlenose dolphins and a variety of birds during the cruise.

“These seventh graders will be able to use their practical experience on the water in combination with graphing information obtained from SCCF’s RECON website to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the dynamics of Southwest Florida’s watershed and marine ecosystem,” Finkel said.

For additional information about the No Child Left on Shore Environmental Education Outreach Project or to become a sponsor for a field trip please, contact Richard Finkel at

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 the younger generation of Southwest Florida. 


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