For 20 years, the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, in cooperation with SFWMD, coordinated a field-based, interactive Education Program at the DuPuis Nature Center. Located in western Martin County within the DuPuis Management Area, the DuPuis Nature Center was once the home of John G. and Susan H. DuPuis, Jr. and is surrounded by pine flatwoods, wet prairies, marshes, and cypress domes managed by the SFWMD. The CES Education Program incorporated wildlife research and land management projects within the DuPuis Management Area and targeted secondary students, teachers, adults, families and the local community. Community events at the DuPuis Nature Center included Astronomy Night where community members were invited to attend a lecture on the night sky and enjoy an interactive stargazing session. Field study trips within the DuPuis Management Area were a major component of the education programs for local students coordinated by CES. These education programs included the Science Enrichment Program, Legacy Program, Environmental Summer Camp, and student research.
The Science Enrichment Program was sponsored by the FAU Foundation to help enhance Indiantown’s rural, minority students’ understanding of science and develop a love of Florida’s natural environment. Primary and secondary school students explored the outdoors and developed their scientific understanding through the collection and interpretation of field data.
For 6 years, CES coordinated the Legacy Program as a Student Service-Learning, dual-enrollment course with Clark Advanced Learning Center High School and Indian River State College in Stuart. Students improved their scientific knowledge and environmental awareness through field research on invasive plant species in saw palmetto communities.
CES also coordinated the Environmental Summer Camp for Indiantown Middle School’s underserved students centered around Patrick D. Smith’s historical fiction book, A Land Remembered. Each day the students read from the book and learned about Florida’s natural habitat through hikes, field trips, and other educational activities.
CES organized many research opportunities within the DuPuis Management Area for undergraduate and graduate students in collaboration with FAU faculty, SFWMD, and FWC. In 2016, CES scientists hosted FAU undergraduate students through the OURI’s Learning Environment and Academic Research Network (LEARN) Program. During this program, students contributed to an ongoing research project on the red cockaded woodpecker by FWC and participated in the SFWMD Legacy research project where they documented invasive plant species and changes in the saw palmetto communities. Graduate student research included students earning their Master of Science degree and Master of Education degree with a focus on Environmental Education based on research conducted at the DuPuis Nature Center. Currently, funding for these programs has ceased, but we are grateful that we had the opportunity to share the wonders of the DuPuis Nature Center with the local community and students through our Education Programs.
Special thanks to all of our Friends of DuPuis that shared many happy memories made in Florida’s Pine Flatwoods!