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School Forms “Parknership” For Hands-On Education

The local environment is serving as Fort White High School’s (FWHS) laboratory of sorts. The school and Ichetucknee Springs State Park formed an Outdoor Service Learning “Parknership” for grades six through 12 to offer educational experiences by providing hands-on, field-based investigations that reinforce, enrich and make relevant classroom studies, as well as provide opportunities for service learning in the community.

Since 2005, the FWHS middle school science department has worked with the Learning in Florida’s Environment (LIFE) Program through the Office of Environmental Education. Together, they have developed 12 field investigations for seventh graders ranging from Outdoor Orienteering, evasive plant study of water lettuce, to dendrochronology (dating of past events such as climatic changes through the study of tree ring growth).

Students have planted and transplanted native Coontie plants, created terrariums for water cycle understanding, and removed invasive Japanese Climbing ferns from the Park. Some of the eighth graders have also created “biodegradable’ boats and raced the river calculating average speed along the way.