Some talented and dedicated students from Marco Island Academy recently took part in creating a mural at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The colorful mural is located at the Rookery Bay Shell Island Field Station, which had contained a plain, concrete wall that was perfect for the specific images and message that the Reserve wanted to convey. The previously white wall was transformed into a 30-foot long artistic mural portraying the plants, wildlife and research science occurring at Rookery Bay. The mural will be used as visual teaching tool for Collier County Public School’s environmental education programs.
According to Jeannine Windsor of Rookery Bay’s Educational Outreach, “The idea behind this project was to provide more opportunities for interpretation of Rookery’s estuaries. Themes were chosen based on connections to the mission of the Reserve and the various audiences we bring to the Rookery Bay Shell Island Field Station.”
For example, the microscope on the mural represents diversity. A great deal of life in the estuaries exists on a microscopic scale.
The sharks represent relationships and are a fantastic indicator species as to the health and stability of the estuaries. These apex predators rely on dynamic food webs with a host of relationships that help maintain balance in the ecosystem. Rookery Bay staff have been monitoring juvenile shark populations in the reserve for 20 years.
The aquarium represents learning, with visitors looking into an aquarium as if they were in the estuary themselves. The estuary acts as a nursery for several species depicted in the mural, including small-tooth sawfish, invertebrates, and variety of important game fish.
The sea turtles represent protection. Critical to the mission of the Reserve is the stewardship of the estuaries and the life that exists there. This includes monitoring and protecting the several threatened species such as loggerhead sea turtles.
The mural was part of a summer project for the high school students from Marco Island Academy (MIA). It was also a great opportunity for the students to showcase their artistic talents and to make a difference in their community.
Creating murals for public viewing is nothing new to Rob Eder’s art students. Earlier in the year, Rob Eder, the MIA Arts Program director, along with MIA students, completed an art project for the Marco Island Historical Museum.
The mural project was made possible by the generosity of the Marco Island Shell Club, which provided funds for all the materials used to create the mural, such as brushes, paint and fans.
According to Rob Eder, the students worked around 90 hours; two to three hours a day in June, July and the beginning of August. The hours spent creating the mural will count towards the students’ 100-hour community service requirement for graduation.
For the students, it was community service through art.
Credits go to:
- Original design by Caitlin Libby;
- Original Calligraphy by Marisa Roath;
- Master Painter – Kloie Whitman;
- Painters: Alexis Pratt, Marley Wilson, Sarahi Lopez, Savana Baez, Emma Coppola, Chastity Miller and Angel Owen-Turner;
- Reserve project liaison, Jeannine Windsor;
- MIA art teacher Rob Eder; and
- MIA Principal Melissa Scott.
View the mural during National
Estuaries Day, Saturday,
September 28th from
9 AM to 3 PM.