Wednesday, April 30, 2014

World as Classroom: Visiting a Cypress Preserve in Florida

By Kaitlyn McCaffrey           

During my spring break I traveled down to Florida to the Ft. Myers area.  The land was blessed with bright sun, warm weather, and interesting wildlife.  I had to barely leave the trailer to spot a few brightly colored green geckos prowling the area. These lizards would often be prey to my grandparents’ cat Sea Ray, despite my disapproval of letting her out free  and unrestrained. But what we saw around the trailer was only a fraction of Florida's diverse wildlife.

To catch a glimpse of this wildlife, my grandparents and I traveled to the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, an environmental education center in Ft. Myers build with a boardwalk above the swampy earth where visitors can see and learn about the area's unique ecosystem.

There were Great Herons in the distance by the reservoir, turtles in the lake, and lots of interesting plant life, parasitic plants, heart of palm, cypress knees that stabilized the trees in the swamp.  All of those species, whether helpful or harmful, were a part of the ecosystem in the area. 

These six miles were preserved due to the efforts of dedicated students.  In 2001, they took the preserve as it was and expanded its purpose.  It moved from a simple preserve to an opportunity to educate people about the ecosystem of the Ft. Myers estuary.  The trees filter the water and keep it clear, allowing a variety of gators, birds and other animals to survive in this little section of Florida.

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