Sunday, October 25, 2020

Young Leaders in Training

Junior Leadership Marco’s Beach Stewardship Day

OCMI Junior Leadership students, from left: Jake Lowe, Christian Hurdis, McKenna Broxson, Samantha Reeves, Nicole Rodriguez, Alyssa Reeves, Michelle Rodriguez and Virginia Lowe. Photos by Maria Lamb

OCMI Junior Leadership students, from left: Jake Lowe, Christian Hurdis, McKenna Broxson, Samantha Reeves, Nicole Rodriguez, Alyssa Reeves, Michelle Rodriguez and Virginia Lowe. Photos by Maria Lamb

This is the first summer for the (OCMI) Optimist Club of Marco Island/ Chamber of Commerce Junior Leadership Marco 2017 Summer Program. The students, all from middle school, experienced a lot of “firsts” this summer with five half-days of fun-filled learning about their awesome community.

The OCMI Junior Leadership Program started their summer program with History Day – a tour of the Marco Island historical sites. The program also included visits to the Marco Island Police Department and Fire Rescue Department. Hospitality Day was spent with a tour of Marco Island Hotels from the JW Marriott to the Beach House. These days of learning mirrored the adult version of the program, the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Marco (Read about the 2017 Leadership Marco adult class in this issue of Coastal Breeze News).

Sea turtle monitor Yesi Olvera gives the group a brief narrative as she checks a nest. From left: Jayme Lowe (parent chaperone), Virginia Lowe, Christian Hurdis, Michelle Rodriguez, Jennifer Reeves (parent) and Nicole Rodriguez.

Sea turtle monitor Yesi Olvera gives the group a brief narrative as she checks a nest. From left: Jayme Lowe (parent chaperone), Virginia Lowe, Christian Hurdis, Michelle Rodriguez, Jennifer Reeves (parent) and Nicole Rodriguez.

The last day of the Junior Leadership Marco program, was Beach Stewardship Day. The students spent a half-day on the beach with a member of Marco Island Beach Advisory Committee as their guide and mentor.

Virginia Lowe with an osprey encountered as the students prepared to leave.

Virginia Lowe with an osprey encountered as the students prepared to leave.

The group started at the Tigertail Beach lagoon where the students had their first encounter with the amazing sight of a reddish egret dancing for its breakfast in the shallows of the lagoon. Instantly everybody was transformed into nature photographers. This set the tone for the rest of the morning!

Despite seahorse being incredibly hard to find, Christian Hurdis and Jake Lowe got lucky and found a couple.

Despite seahorse being incredibly hard to find, Christian Hurdis and Jake Lowe got lucky and found a couple.

Though it was a muddy passage from Tigertail Beach lagoon, with a series of mini-lakes in front of the South Seas Tower 2, 3 and 4, this did not dampen the students’ optimism heading into Sand Dollar Island. Jennifer Reeves, parent and chaperone, commented that she had never been to that side of Marco Island before.

The students collected trash along the way and learned why it is important to keep the beach clean. They heard a brief presentation about the unique ecology of a Critical Wildlife Area; why it is important to share the beach with wildlife; no live shelling; and the harm that unleashed dogs may do to nesting wildlife. There was much to remember, but overall, the students had a fun beach experience.

Because this sea turtle nest did not drain properly only one-third of the 130 eggs hatched.

Because this sea turtle nest did not drain properly only one-third of the 130 eggs hatched.

According to Jayme Lowe, an OCMI parent and coordinator of the OCMI Junior Leadership Program, the club is a group of dedicated young students that volunteer and give back to their community, devoting their time to organizations and events that help others in need.

With their first OCMI Junior Leadership summer experience, Jayme Lowe remarked that the students came away with a better understanding of what makes Marco Island unique and discovered ways they can contribute their strengths to make the community even better.

Students “bottled” their beach experience to bring home.

Students “bottled” their beach experience to bring home.

Any middle and high school students interested in giving back to the community and making a difference, please send an email to Jayme Lowe at ocmileadership@gmail.com.

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