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Education and Outreach at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Quick Topics

Education and interpretation are an integral part of the management of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR). RBNERR provides an excellent opportunity for interpretation of sub-tropical estuarine resources. The education program is designed to address priority resource issues including increased demands on coastal resources generated from unprecedented urban development. RBNERR's education program targets audiences ranging from students and resource users, to environmental professionals and elected officials.

Education programs include on and offsite education and training activities. These activities include field studies for students and teachers; the development and distribution of media; the distribution of information at local events; the recruitment and management of volunteers; and training workshops for local citizens and decision-makers.

Students looking at coastal animals

Fourth grade students learning about coastal animals.

There are five key components of RBNERR's education and outreach program.
Aquarium and exhibits
  • Environmental Learning Center (ELC)
    The ELC is open year-round and serves as a visitor center for the public to enhance understanding of estuarine systems through interpretive exhibits, aquaria and naturalist-led programs. RBNERR hosts annual community events at the ELC including Dive into Oceans, Estuary Day, and the Southwest Florida Nature Festival. A pedestrian bridge and boardwalk system, provides visitor access to important representative examples of key RBNERR habitats and cultural resources.
Boat with community leaders heading to barrier island
  • Coastal Training Program (CTP)
    RBNERR's CTP is a regional training forum for professionals involved in making decisions that affect coastal resources in southwest Florida. CTP courses integrate relevant science and technology to address priority issues affecting the coastal resources of southwest Florida.
Students on a hike
  • Field-based Student Education
    RBNERR supports field trip programs designed to promote and enhance critical thinking skills for school students in various grade levels. Field trips also enhance student's knowledge of coastal ecology and increase awareness of the value of estuaries. RBNERR staff provides on-the-water marine science programs to secondary and post-secondary students, inquiry based field trips for students through the Estuary Explorers and Living in Florida's Environment (LIFE) programs and teacher training.
  • Public Access
    RBNERR's public lands provide an important opportunity to develop and manage compatible public access and use projects designed to enhance the visitor's experience and contribute to increased community awareness and involvement in coastal stewardship. Existing facilities include terrestrial and aquatic interpretative trails and signage, a pedestrian bridge, designated camping areas, and low impact (e.g. kayak and canoe) launch sites.
  • Outreach and Partnering
    RBNERR's support organization, the Friends of Rookery Bay, Inc. (FORB) and RBNERR's volunteers play an important role in this effort to support informed coastal decisions through community incentives and recognition programs. RBNERR staff and FORB volunteers participate in a number of local community events, ranging from Earth Day to the annual Fourth of July parade in Naples. Other outreach efforts include production of a variety of printed materials including brochures, posters and information sheets, contributions to an extensive website (see www.rookerybay.org), and creation of multi-media outreach tools.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

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Last updated: April 06, 2015

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