Engaging Students and Families to Improve Hog Creek in Pioneer Park

PROJECTHINK

BY EARL YOUNG, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS & SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY OCT 15, 2020

Fifth grade teacher Lorienne Nickelson wanted her Bay Haven students and their families to build a sense of community by participating in a “hands on” environmental education program in collaboration with the Central Cocoanut Neighborhood Association (CCA).Embracing the project, students enthusiastically researched design landscaping to improve Hog Creek in Pioneer Park and prepared to present their plan to the city of Sarasota and CCA board.

Research involved field trips to the Celery Fields, North Lido Beach, the Carefree Learner, and Selby Gardens where students observed effective existing restorations. They incorporated their findings into a plan to restore a section of Hog Creek including a butterfly garden using Florida native plants.

“Students presented their plan to city and county officials and two classes at Bay Haven, and they planted a small-scale garden on campus that represents their design for improving Hog Creek,” Nickelson said.

“My students were amazing at researching, analyzing data, planning, and presenting their plan using posters, PowerPoint, and group presentations. I couldn’t be prouder,” Nickelson said.

“The city of Sarasota responded by inviting us to a playground opening and tree ceremony at Pioneer Park,” Nickelson said.

Although Covid-19 restrictions prevented the students from carrying out all of the restoration plan, Nickelson said the project was a collaborative success that sparked students’ curiosity and willingness to get involved.

“Thanks to an $847 grant from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, my students were able to get out in the community and be part of improving a neighborhood park for future generations.”  

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