Grant: 16-015E
Project Title: Traveling Turtles: A Statewide Traveling Trunk Program
Project Manager: Rebecca Mott
Organization: Inwater Research Group (Non-Profit Organization)
Grant Amount: $7,924.87
Completion Date: 2018-01-17

Summary: We will help five similar organizations in Florida to re-create our hands-on, experiential Traveling Turtles program. This program is an all-inclusive trunk that teachers may borrow for two weeks at no cost. The trunk contains artifacts, biological tools, and a pre-constructed lesson binder that teaches students all about sea turtles, the threats they face, and how we can protect them. Students will learn about the 5 species of sea turtles that navigate Floridaís waters as well as the three that nest on our beaches. They will run through population sampling lessons that highlight human-related injuries, which they will then have to try to reduce through conservation initiatives. Students will step into the role of biologists as they work up their model turtle. Models will be individualized and teachers will run through a capture worksheet where the students must get hands-on to collect data. We will correspond via email, phone, and Skype to assist in putting the trunks together as well as troubleshooting any issues throughout the year. Organizations will track the usage of the trunks, reporting back to us in detail at the end of the school year.

Results: The program saw many successes by the end of the first year. We reached out to each organization to discuss the program and any obstacles they may have experienced. Organizations reported positive feedback from their participating teachers with one exception. Trout Lake Nature Center was not able to get the program successfully up and running and both organizations mutually agreed that the program would be better served if it were reallocated to another facility. Broward County Parks reported a slow start toward the end of their school year so we worked with them in contacting their school district. After sharing the program content with their district Science Coordinator, we were then invited to host a webinar for roughly 25 teachers as well as a workshop for 75 teachers later that month. Immediately following the workshop, they had 500 students registered for the program as well as numerous bookings for the upcoming school year. Because of this as well as the determination of their point person, we decided to reallocate Trout Lake Nature Centerís trunk to Broward County Parks and Rec. They have been running both trunks since August 2017 and in that time have over 3,147 students booked for this school year with many slots still available. Indian River County was able to get the program up and running in their school districts and found they were limited by only having one trunk. They had such high demand for the trunks that they commissioned IRG to build them another one for the upcoming school year. Overall, in its first year, we found the program to not only be successful but to also show growth. While the grant has technically ended, the program will continue to run in the background, educating students for years to come. Please see below for program numbers and reach.