Summer camp teaches about preserving Indian River Lagoon

A Grant-Valkaria resident picks up trash along the Indian River.

The Marine Resources Council (MRC) held three sessions of Summer Camp 2020 in July for children 9 to 12 years old. Thirty-five children attended.

 The groups were kept smaller this year to comply with CDC guidelines. 

The camp was designed to inspire and educate children on the benefits of preserving and restoring the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). There were hands-on activities aimed to allow the kids to discover the connection between science and nature in the world around them. 

The IRL is one of the most biodiverse shallow-water estuaries in the United States and it is highly significant both environmentally and economically. All such waterways are environmentally fragile.

Therefore, preserving a healthy IRL — its water quality, fish and wildlife resources — is essential and challenging. This requires involvement and active engagement by the public at large, including children. 

"It’s important to develop stewardship at a young age and get involved with the environment," MRC’s Environmental Education Coordinator Nicole Broquet said.

Examples of active learning sessions for the campers were examining rocks to learn about the geology of Florida, building their own water bottle twisters to learn about the tornadoes Florida takes on each year,  exploring native plants around the property and investigating butterflies, bugs and bees. On field trips, the students also were introduced to some of the different animals in the lagoon.  

"I really enjoy seeing the kids having a good time, coming out of their shells, learning about their environment and getting excited about science," Broquet said. "It’s good to get kids out of the house to learn about nature in a safe way. Our goal is that they can teach their peers and spread the word about proper management and being respectful to the environment." 

Broquet emphasized that "overall, the MRC is dedicated to protecting the IRL. Everybody can do something to help by working to reduce their impact on storm water pollution. They can plant Florida native plants, not put grass clippings down the drain, clean up after their pets and by picking up garbage along the sea." 

Located in Palm Bay, the MRC is a nonprofit organization formed in 1983 to determine ways to reverse the negative impacts that were happening to the IRL.

  For information about the Marine Resource Council, go to savetheirl.org.