Conserve Wildlife Blog

Bayshore Adventure Program Inspires Love Of Wildlife, Sparks Interest In Conservation Careers

August 30th, 2019

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. 

Bayshore Adventure attendees with Conserve Wildlife Foundation
and OceanFirst Foundation Staff

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.  

Caption Left: Meeting two and four legged law enforcement.
Right: Exploring the Conservation Officers’ boat.

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.

Todd Pover, CWF Sr. Biologist in the role of fox, chasing ‘birds’.

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.”

Piping Plover, one of the beach nesting birds Bayshore Adventurers learned about.
Photo by Northside Jim.

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.”

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