Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Junior Leadership Students Celebrate Earth Day as Beachcombers


April 22nd started as an adventurous morning for members of Junior Leadership Marco 2019. A group of 5 students took to the wilder side of Marco forging a chilly crossing of the Tigertail Lagoon to celebrate Earth Day.

Crossing the lagoon is part of the adventure, while making sure cell phones are safely stowed in waterproof bags. The lagoon is about 50-yards across, and the water came up to their waists, with low tide making the morning traverse easier. They did not mind the “squishy mucky, yucky under-your-feet feel” in the bottom of the lagoon.

A narrow well-worn sandy path that is home to hundreds of fiddler crabs gave way to a stretch of white sand, clear blue waters, sea shell decorated trees, plenty of sand dollars and weird things on the beach that looked like coiled snakes. They are actually egg casings for either the lightning whelk or horse conch that often wash ashore.

This is Sand Dollar Island, also known as Big Marco Pass, a Critical Wildlife Area, which is a state-designated refuge for nesting least terns, black skimmers and Wilson’s plover – all State Threatened species in breeding mode.

Why is Earth Day important to this leadership group? Chess Felice wrote, “Today is also a day when we can think about additional ways we can protect the Earth.”

Yosiel Lopez added that, “along with my mother’s birthday, Earth Day is a great reminder to begin protecting it because we only have one.”

Sommar Kashey stated, “We must keep our ecosystem clean in order to keep our wildlife, and even ourselves, safe.”

Jake Lowe said, “I enjoy fishing, boating and hunting and I would not be able to enjoy these activities without a healthy environment.”

Bek Rahmonov offered this suggestion: “To keep the air clean, consider riding a bike to the store instead of taking the car. It is important to protect the Earth for generations to come.”

According to Jayme Lowe, who was the parent coordinator for the morning trip, “It is important to educate others on why this area is so special for endangered species and to create awareness so we become more responsible for our actions and surroundings.”

The students enrolled in The Junior Leadership Program have visited the Marco Island Historical Museum as part of History Day and also learned how to put out a grill fire using a fire extinguisher under the supervision of the Marco Island Fire Rescue. Beach/Earth Day is the third program in the series.

In conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, Junior Leadership is a great opportunity for students in grades 8-12 to learn and understand the different facets of Marco Island. It is a unique opportunity to meet many leaders in the community that make a positive impact on our island.

For more information on the Junior Leadership program, email ocmileadership@gmail.com.

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