Friends of Tigertail recently presented four one-week Conservancy of Southwest Florida summer youth camp scholarships to fourth graders at Tommie Barfield School.
Taking place at the school’s media center, and broadcast to the entire student body, the awards were presented by Friends of Tigertail board members, with principal Kathryn Maya in attendance. Realizing that our youth are the promise for future protection of our local ecological resources, Friends of Tigertail has held the “campership” competition for the past ten years. Originally two scholarships were presented, but for the last three years board member Mary Ann Maniace has donated a third campership in memory of her late father, Anthony Pampalona, to honor his love of children. With the recent passing of Ken Kubat, the Friends of Tigertail board member who had presided over the scholarship program for the past decade, the Friends board decided to add one more award in 2019 in his name. Each scholarship to the camp covers the $285 fee, with an additional $25 added to pay for transportation expenses.
All Tommie Barfield fourth graders were invited to participate in the contest by creating a work in writing relating to our local environment, and describing why they were interested in attending the camp. Two Friends of Tigertail board members outlined the competition to the entire class, and Kayleigh Kemmish, one of the 2018 scholarship winners, described her very positive camp experience to the students. Thirteen fourth graders submitted entries, which were judged by members of the Friends of Tigertail Board of Directors.
Winning the memorial scholarship donated by Mary Ann Maniace was Hannah Ali, who wrote about protecting our endangered sea turtles, including a picture of a turtle and her recently hatched babies. She wanted to attend the camp due to her love of animals, and desire to learn more about them. The entry of Aeden Chustz, winner of the Ken Kubat memorial scholarship, began by stating “Water is life. Unfortunately the quality of the water around Southwest Florida is the worst it has ever been.” He continued by reviewing measures to protect our waterways to avoid the gulf and fresh water algae blooms of 2018. He hoped to use the Conservancy experience to learn more about protecting our environment and to be a better teacher to others about reducing pollution. Sarah Friedhoff’s submission discussed the plight of sea turtles, and possible measures that can be taken to insure their survival. Researching internet sites dedicated to the preservation of turtles, she outlined several solutions to help them, and in closing was hopeful for improvement in their status by stating “imagine this: you are watching the news and you see that the amount of sea turtles has increased by thousands! Well, this can happen! But think about it, can you believe the problems happening right now? It’s outrageous! And this needs to stop now! That’s why with brains like mine, yours, and many others combined, we can fix this mess!” Sarah described her love of turtles as well as other sea creatures, her enjoyment of the beach, and her curiosity as a student as reasons for attending the camp. The essay submitted by Kyleigh Haueter outlined the current critical state of coral reefs, their importance to the ecology of the ocean, and positive steps that can be taken to reverse their decline. Her reason for participating in the camp was to learn what she and her community can do to preserve marine life.
The students, delineated by the Conservancy as “sharks” for their age group, will attend the popular week long camp in July, with program themes of “Ocean Explosion” and “Beach Bums.” They will enjoy exciting age appropriate lectures as well as field trips, giving hands on experience related to our natural resources and their protection. Cheryl Latif, the Education Programs Administrator at the Conservancy, has been invaluable in helping Friends of Tigertail with camp information and registrations.
The enthusiasm of the fourth graders and Tommie Barfield School toward supporting the protection of our environment gives hope for the future of our exceptional resources. Friends of Tigertail thanks all participating students, hoping that the winners enjoy their experience, and continue their ecological interests into adulthood.
Information about Friends of Tigertail and their programs can be found on their website: www.FriendsofTigertail.com, or their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/FriendsofTigertailBeach.