Sunday, 12 June 2016

UWF Week with The Spartina Spartans - Jenna Martin

      This past week at University of West Florida was an amazing week! My two favorite days were definitely Monday and Friday. Monday we walked trails through Longleaf Pine forests around Blackwater River area Guided by one of the park rangers Ian Stone. He was extremely knowledgable and answered so many questions we had about upland Forest management along with watershed impacts, restoration, and management. I loved walking the trails along the river and through the woods, and it was great to finally see more than just a palm tree for once. Coming from New York, I always took the forests and mountain trails for granted, and although it is a different type of wooded forest it definitely made me realize how important it is to take care of them.  

      Friday was a long, hot, and tiring day. Being the last day of the week, along with spending most of the week in the sun, everyone was pretty much pooped out. We worked our way through it and walked along the beach to study dune lakes, their ecology, and a lot about their conservation. Friday was the probably the best day of my life, even though I felt like death and wanted to just float in the water instead of walking any further. The reason for pushing through was that I had the opportunity to mark my very first sea turtle nest! My career goals are to one day work with rehabilitation and conservation of these awesome creatures, so I was so excited when I saw our park ranger/ guide holding a "do not disturb sea turtle nest" sign. Earlier in the morning a Green Sea Turtle had made her way up onto the beach and laid a nest at the foot of the dunes. I was able to ask the ranger if I could assist in holding the sign on our way to the nesting site, and when we arrived she allowed me to mark the nest! It was definitely an amazing feeling and a day I will never forget. 

     Overall, our week at the University of West Florida was amazing. We had the opportunity to see very diverse environments just in the state of Florida that I never even knew existed. Our professors for each day, and of course Jeff Eble, made each day an experience we will never forget! Now for our last week of the FIO course at UNF!

This doesn't even begin to show the amount of
excitement I was holding in.
Photo Credit: Sydney Parsons 
Monday's walk over the Blackwater River

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