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A student seins in the Indian River Lagoon.

For nearly two decades, our Lagoon Quest program has been inspiring fourth-grade students to make a difference in their local ecosystems. The program brings these budding scientists to the Indian River Lagoon for a day of exploring this important waterway.

This program has seen thousands of students use scientific instruments to collect water quality data, use seining equipment to observe local marine life, and learn more about the problems the lagoon is facing.

After almost 20 years, however, this program needed an update to be an even better resource for local teachers and modernize it for today’s students. Thanks to a grant from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, our Education staff were able to team up with six local teachers, including Nicki Sherburne and Allison Turner, to identify ways to meet these goals.

“Tying in real world, hands-on experience to the science curriculum makes students feel a part of the natural world around them and begin to understand the importance of conservation, starting right here in our own backyard,” Allison said.

The overall format and presentation of the teacher resources received a revamp to make it more user friendly and exciting for teachers to present to their students. The materials also provide everything needed for teachers to make the process as seamless as possible for them.

“The new Lagoon Quest program benefits teachers by taking a lot of the work off of their already full plate and giving them the materials needed to run a successful experience,” Allison explained.

New, more interactive activities were added to the Lagoon Quest curriculum as well that tie in together and build on each other. Each activity highlights how different parts of an ecosystem are connected to and are affected by each other.

“Having a clear understanding of how the ecosystem works naturally allows for students to understand the impacts of humans on those interactions and how one small event can have huge repercussions for the environment,” Allison noted.

The curriculum incorporates math and reading skills to provide the students with the best educational experience possible, Allison said. These activities also align with Brevard County Public Schools’ scope and sequence for fourth grade science Benchmark standards.

Local teacher Nicki Sherburne’s students liked one activity that let them create their own town and see the damage that organisms, particularly people, have on the lagoon.

“Not only does this activity help students with [Benchmarks], but it also gives them an understanding of what conservation is and what role that they play, even at the elementary age,” Nicki explained.

Another great thing about the lessons is that they are designed with the understanding that science teachers have limited time and resources, Nicki said.

“Each lesson took around 30 minutes and used materials that could be found or were not too expensive to purchase with science funds,” she said.

By providing students with the Lagoon Quest experience, we hope to create lifelong lovers of the lagoon and inspire them to protect our natural resources.

“For many students, Lagoon Quest may be the first time that they learn about the Indian River Lagoon despite living near this environmentally and economically valuable ecosystem,” Allison said. “We all want to protect the things we love. Providing students an opportunity to fall in love with science could spark an interest in a child they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to experience.”

About Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops is North America’s premier outdoor and conservation company. Founded in 1972 when avid young angler Johnny Morris began selling tackle out of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, today the company provides customers with unmatched offerings spanning premier destination retail, outdoor equipment manufacturing, world-class resort destinations and more. In 2017 Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela’s to create a “best-of-the- best” experience with superior products, dynamic locations and outstanding customer service. Bass Pro Shops also operates White River Marine Group, offering an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading boat brands, and Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort. Under the visionary conservation leadership of Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops is a national leader in protecting habitat and introducing families to the outdoors.