Education: Learning Gate

Educational Outreach: Learning Gate

Our annual Learning Gate field trip to North Beach at Ft. De Soto evolved into a two-day event. On May 11 and 13, St. Pete Audubon volunteers provided guided expertise for third grade students as they viewed shorebirds through scopes across the Habitat Restoration Area lagoon. Two classes attended each day accompanied by their teachers, parents and volunteers. According to Jim McGinity, Environmental Resource Teacher with Learning Gate Community School, there were approximately 100 people in attendance for the field trips.

The days' activities included seining, sieving and a tag game. They explored beach vegetation ecology, as well as learning about visiting migratory birds and year-round feathered residents.

In addition, students were able to make connections with their "critter" discoveries and how they provided food resources for the birds.

Steve Santangelo explains the dangers of Kite string to Learning Gate students. Photo: Dave Kandz

A highlight from the seining net was a seahorse (a first). Although the timing contributed to fewer than hoped for birds, there were some exciting discoveries. In addition to the usual suspects, we saw a Red Knot, Black Bellied Plovers, Dunlins, Black Skimmers, Wilson's Plovers, and a pair of American Oyster Catchers with the chick appearing occasionally.

Thank you to the volunteers who enjoyed sharing the birds with very interested students and parents.

Margaret Santangelo explains what Bird Stewards do to Learning Gate students Photo: Dave Kandz

Margaret and Steve Santangelo shared Bird Stewarding, the Habitat Restoration Area purpose and beach conservation. They set a great example by talking about trash they had picked up that morning and how dangerous it is to our beach and marine wildlife.

Other volunteers were Judi Hopkins, President, Pat Verdino, Dave Kandz, Andrea Andersen, and Wanda Dean . Many parents and teachers, as well as Jim, thanked us for the time we gladly spent with the students. It was extremely rewarding