NEW JERSEY: – Getting kids excited about a career in science is no walk in the park, but thanks to the Bayshore Adventure Program, it is a week at the marina.
Conserve Wildlife Foundation, the State Parks Department and the Leonardo State Marina held the Bayshore Adventure Program for 40 Monmouth County 8-11 year olds in August. The program gives kids the chance to peek into the lives of a variety of science based professionals through exciting, hands-on activities that foster exploration and discovery of the natural world.
This year we welcomed two groups of 20 students to the Marina to participate in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) based activities like seining and fish identification, birding, creating nature art, exploring the beach for mollusks and crustaceans, and cleaning up the shoreline.
Conservation professionals gave the kids a behind the scenes look at their daily activities. Children explored a New Jersey Conservation Officer’s police boat and learned about its navigation system, heard about a career in law enforcement from a local K-9 officer and his dog, and explored environmental engineering by finding out how to clean up an oil spill.
Todd Pover, CWF Sr. Biologist taught the kids about rare and endangered beach nesting birds. He also showed them what a challenge it is for the birds to survive in the wild by acting like a fox, a natural predator of beach nesting birds, chasing kids down the beach while they tried to pick up food with just their thumb and pointer finger simulating a beak. While much fun was had, the kids learned that many of them would be ‘tagged out’ by a wily predator for being too slow.
The attendees also got some first-hand experience helping the environment by cleaning up plastics and other debris from the coastline.
“It is so important to not only foster a love of nature and wildlife in students, but also to show kids how to help,” said David Wheeler, CWF Executive Director. “By giving children the chance to be a part of the solution, we hope to inspire them to see themselves in a conservation career where they can help build a better future for people and wildlife alike in New Jersey.”
Kids got up close and personal with the critters that live year-round in the Nature Center at the Leonardo State Marina. They learned about and engaged with a corn snake as well as a terrapin turtle and two red eared sliders to compare and contrast native to non native animals of NJ.
The program occurs along the Raritan Bay, an urban waterway that is one of the most heavily used waterways in the nation. Stephanie DAlessio, CWF Director of Education said ”It is so rewarding to help schoolkids connect with nature and to get excited about the natural world – a world that is often overlooked by a generation more used to screen time than outdoor adventures.”
CWF is extremely grateful to the OceanFirst Foundation for providing scholarships for many of the program participants. Stephanie Toal, Marketing & Communications Coordinator OceanFirst Foundation said “I was very excited to attend the Bayshore Adventure Program on Thursday (August 22nd), and see the great work Conserve Wildlife Foundation is doing to inspire children to learn about wildlife.”
ABOUT THE OCEANFIRST FOUNDATION
Since its founding in 1902, OceanFirst Bank has built a solid reputation and legacy as a good neighbor and responsible corporate citizen. The Bank’s strong commitment to helping families, organizations, schools and communities throughout central and southern New Jersey has spanned several generations, reaching new heights in 1996 with the creation of OceanFirst Foundation. The Foundation provides grants to organizations that meet community needs within the OceanFirst Bank footprint. Since its inception, OceanFirst Foundation has contributed in excess of 7,000 grants totaling more than $39 million to over 900 local charities throughout central and southern New Jersey.