By Julie M. Lucas
NAS Jacksonville Public Affairs Office
When schools are closed, Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) Youth Activities Center (YAC) children continue learning. With a teacher planning day for Duval County Schools on Oct. 16, the youngsters spent their day at the Black Point Interpretive Center aboard the base.
"Once a month we do an outdoor recreation activity that focuses on nature and doing physical activities outdoors," said Shaqunta Jones, NAS Jax YAC Child and Youth Program lead.
"We came to the center last year and the children really enjoyed it."
The children were split into two groups with one going to the pavilion to learn about pollinators from NAS Jax Natural Resources Intern Sarah Hill. Hill taught the children about the importance of pollinators and how it affects our ecosystem.
Outdoor scavenger hunt sheets were given out encouraging the children to be more aware of what is in their environment.
"On your sheet is a bird and you might not see one but maybe you can listen for one," said Hill.
The other half of the group listened to a presentation by Dennis Marshall, Environmental Management Systems manager. Marshall spoke about the reptiles and other animals that live at Black Point. For some it wasn't their first visit, but they were still enthusiastic.
"I like that there is a lot of stuff to see here," said Kenadi Richard, 9.
Black Point Interpretive Center is lined with aquariums full of native Florida animals.
"Tell me what is a 'bad' animal," Marshall asked the group and got responses such as snakes, tigers and bears. He then went on to explain how each animal can be important for different reasons. Marshall then gave warnings of how to handle or treat animals in the wild.
"Turtles live in water, but tortoises do not, so if you see one, please don't touch them," Marshall advised.
The children were also allowed to check out some of the animals up close, including snakes, a Cuba tree frog and a lizard.
"Today I learned that some animals are not harmful," said DeShawn Wattans, 9. "I also learned that people and animals eat the same things."
YAC children learn about nature
By Julie M. Lucas