Inspiring Marine Conservation along Florida's Gulf Coast
10/27/2010

College Students Take Part in our First Post Oil Spill Conservation Program

Online PR News – 27-October-2010 – – SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. – Home to one of the most unique habitats in the world, the Emerald Coast is one of the nation’s top ten “Hot Spots” for ecological diversity. Students from Stetson University learned the importance of marine stewardship and preservation of this rare ecosystem while on an alternative break along Florida’s Gulf coast. From sea turtle education—to humanitarian work—to fun-filled adventure, students combined service with education, in a hands-on setting.

With the help of local sea turtle specialists, Stetson students learned about the four species that make their way to the gulf shores for nesting. Students learned how the oil spill sparked a first of its kind nest relocation effort in which eggs were sent to the east coast. Shark studies further encouraged the students interest with close observation of specimens, accounts of first-hand run-ins with sharks and a chance to catch a shark on the beach following the debrief.

Students visited the National Marine Fisheries Service laboratory in Panama City, where marine biologists educated the students on the importance of learning to age fish, as well as the value of studying their reproductive patterns and how this information is used to regulate the Florida fishing industry, a crucial aspect of Florida’s livelihood. On this educational trip students had the opportunity to observe how biologists turned fish samples into useful scientific data and then try it themselves!

Humanitarian efforts included serving at Path of Grace, a local woman’s shelter, while preservation efforts included removing invasive plant species at Camp Helen State Park. Through service, students are not only able to understand the importance of giving back to the community and environment, but also discover a personal vision for their lives. Appleseed hopes to inspire students to further continue serving and use their education and abilities as a tool to positively impact the world.

Appleseed guide, Josh Bartlum understands the importance of exposing students to service. “Spending time in service allows students to see how their education, gifts and talents can be used to aid global communities or preserve our environment for future generations. They discover personal strengths, weaknesses and passions and can use this insight in choosing a career field that is not only meaningful to them personally, but also leaves a positive footprint in the lives of others.” He goes on to say that Appleseed Expeditions goal with all of its educational trips is to inspire a personal vision that can be used to positively impact global communities.

Exploring the beauty of the Emerald Coast by Catamaran was a highlight of the students’ trip, which included collecting marine life while snorkeling and getting in the water with wild dolphins! An eco-tour on paddleboards allowed students to observe habitats along one of the local Coastal Dune Lake. Coastal Dune Lakes have some of the most unique ecosystems in the world, and are only found in areas such as Northwest Florida, Madagascar, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Emerald Coast is one among many alternative breaks trips Appleseed Expeditions has to offer. Through education, service and adventure, groups are able to receive a well-rounded trip full of learning, inspiration and fun!
For more information or to sign up for a educational tour, call Appleseed Expeditions at (877) 889-7150 or visit www.AppleseedExpeditions.com/science.

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