Research Reserve advances community education

400-GTM-NERR-VILANO_4384Education Coordinator Kenneth Rainer conducted a special presentation this morning for Historic City News and other members of the media to learn about the educational programs being offered at the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.

This morning’s program, conducted amid the interpretive exhibits at the Environmental Education Center, focused on more than the fishing, surfing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing and bird watching available along the Tolomato River and adjacent beaches; Rainer wanted to announce a new series of docent-guided activities that will begin in January.

“We want everyone to know what we’re doing out here,” Rainer told Historic City News reporters. “Beginning next month, we have planned an entire year of interactive educational programs and nature experiences for small groups of five to twenty-five participants.”

You do not have to be a member to participate in the activities; most programs are one-hour long and are led by volunteers at the Research Reserve. Many of the programs are offered without cost; excepting admission to either the Wildlife Management Area ($3 per car) or Education Center ($2 per adult).

“These won’t be long, boring lectures in this program,” Rainer said. “Whether we are using video presentations, interactive displays, or specimens collected at the Reserve, these will be hands-on experiences; as much as 70% are held outdoors along the trails, at the dam, on the beach, or other parts of the Reserve.”

One of the tracks in the newly updated public education programs is the “Eco Geek” series being held each Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. at the Environmental Education Center. Participants will learn the value of our environment, how technologies benefited past cultures and how modern society incorporates technology into engineering, medicine, food, clothing and most of our everyday life. Technology is becoming a key component to environmental sustainability and conservation.

On Saturdays at 8:30 a.m., get the whole family outside to explore plants, animals and other inhabitants in and around our estuaries. Outdoor Adventures include a guided cultural hike, nature hike, beach exploration or family seining activity. Locations will change weekly based upon the topic covered and include the Guana Peninsula trails, the south beach access and the Guana Dam recreational area lot.

Stick around after your Outdoor Adventure and enjoy a program we call, “More than you wanted to know about…” each Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about plant and animal life found in estuarine habitats. Get a closer look at marine mammals and their unique adaptations to aquatic life, explore oceanic birds living near coastlines and far at sea or investigate the habits of upland and secretive marsh birds.

In addition to programs planned in St Johns County, the Research Reserve will offer special lecture programs and outdoor activities at the Marineland Field Office in Flagler County.

Reservations are required and can be made through the Research Reserve website at or by calling (904) 823-4500. Monthly schedule updates can be confirmed on the website, as well.

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