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Students in The Immokalee Foundation’s Middle School Summer Academy learned about complicated, delicate ecosystems during a June outing to the CREW Land & Water Trust.

The goal for the visit – part of the foundation’s Junior Academy program – was to introduce young students to various environmental conditions and how scientists work in them. Students learned how experts evaluate environmental health by testing the levels of phosphate, nitrogen and oxygen in water samples, along with other experiments.

Not surprisingly, a field trip in which they trekked through marshy water and used large nets to (temporarily) catch water scorpions, shrimp, tadpoles and bugs drew enthusiasm from the middle-schoolers.

“I liked walking through the deep water,” said Eloy Anzualda III. “I have never done anything like that in my life. It was really cool to see the entire landscape and see where our water comes from.”

“I liked the fact that we had to walk through the water and see amazing orange crickets,” said Daniel Trejo-Garcia.

The creatures also impressed Vanessa Hernandez, who said, “Critter netting was my favorite activity because we got to experience the ecosystem very close up.” Similarly, Alfonso Hernandez said, “I enjoyed the marsh because I got to see where our water comes from and also all the different types of animals in this environment.”

According to Middle School Summer Academy STEM teacher Tyler Wippel, who is also a math teacher at Immokalee Middle School, “The students saw firsthand how they are connected to their environment. We learned about aquifers and ecosystems in our classroom, then bam! They were right in front of us.”

The CREW Land & Water Trust was established in 1989 as a nonprofit organization to coordinate the land acquisition, land management and public use of the 60,000-acre Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. CREW is the largest intact watershed in Southwest Florida, straddling Lee and Collier counties. For more information, visit

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit


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