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Blues Skies Greet Students from Martin Youth LEADERship During Environmental Day

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January 24, 2019
Blue skies and soft breezes greeted students from Martin Youth LEADERship’s Class 22 on Tuesday, January 21, as they embarked on ENVIRONMENTAL Day.  37 students held their fifth monthly session of the school year at the St. Lucie Locks and at Jonathan Dickinson Park, learning about our local and state environment, its issues and its history.
 
Environmental Day Program Chair, Jennifer Ferrari, Administrator of Gifts for Florida Community Health Centers, welcomed students to the St. Lucie Locks in Stuart.  Ms. Ferrari brought in Mark Perry, Executive Director of Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center, to give the students a brief introduction and history of the waterways of South Florida.  Mr. Perry explained how and why the water flow and quality issues exist.  He was followed by Casey McKinley, Park Ranger with the St. Lucie Locks.  Mr. McKinley gave a walking tour of the lock, teaching the students about its purpose and the role the Army Corps of Engineers holds in maintaining the correct flow and dam levels.  Students were then free to peruse the Education Center to view photos and interactive learning tools in order to learn more about the history of locks and dams in Florida.
 
MYL students were bused to Jonathan Dickinson Park in Hobe Sound, to meet with a variety of professionals from the environmental field.  Debbie Fritz Quincy, Executive Director of the Hobe Sound Nature Center, brought not only several staff members, but a number of “residents” of the Center.  Among them were owls, snakes, tarantulas, spiders, turtles and other creatures.  Each student was given the chance to hold or get up close with the animals, all while learning about the mission of the Center.  Carly Batts from the Audubon Society of Martin County, followed up with a brief lecture about her role with Audubon, as well as ways students can become involved while in high school.  As a recent college graduate, Ms. Batts connected with the students, doling out key advice on tenacity when pursuing one’s career goals and other dreams.  Finally, Rebecca Mott from Inwater Research Group, presented the students with an informative view the research she and Inwater do with sea turtles, particularly those near the intake canals of the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant.  Inwater captures turtles to study, rehabilitate, tag and release, where they can be tracked for migration and other purposes.  The students discussed how they too might become involved in this or similar careers and learned that there are a myriad of volunteer opportunities in the field of Environmental Studies. 
 
Students were invited to participate in a “litter free” lunch contest, the goal being to create as little trash as possible when packing their lunches from home.  Students displayed creativity with cloth napkins and sacks, as well as re-usable containers. 
 
The day concluded with a walking tour of one of the trails at Jonathan Dickinson, narrated by Park Ranger Corey Kerkela.  Mr. Kerkela reiterated the themes of the day: ways to become involved as a volunteer, pathways to careers in the varied fields of the environment, and ways to practice good environmental stewardship as a student and member of our community.
 
The Martin Youth LEADERship Program for high school students is in its 22nd year. The group is continually striving to better serve the students that have made application, and been accepted in the program. The current Martin Youth LEADERship program is an opportunity for high school sophomores and juniors throughout Martin County to develop and enhance their leadership skills. Students must apply, and no more than 40 are selected to participate in this comprehensive nine-month program that is modeled after LEADERship Martin County. Upon completion, these young Leaders have learned about their community including history, government, business, arts and culture, criminal justice and the environment. Class members are given a rare opportunity to reach their highest leadership potential through sessions focusing on Covey’s Effective Habits and other leadership enhancing activities. Every effort is made to select a racially, gender diverse class representing various levels of leadership experience.
 
For more information about Martin Youth LEADERship, and how you too, might become a sponsor, donor, event coordinator or advisory board member, please see the group web site at: http://www.leadershipmcalumni.com/youth_leadership.asp, or contact Coordinator Jeanne Dunn at MartinYouthLeadership@gmail.com or at (772) 486-4695.

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