At our annual Banquet on May 17, 2018, FMWAS honored Annette Loyd, and Baker School for their dedication and hard work on their Science Conservation Camp.

The following is a citation that describes this excellent program for their Fifth Grade.

The Francis M. Weston Audubon Society is pleased to present the 2018 Curtis Kingsbery Education Award to Baker School, a K-12 school located in Okaloosa County, FL.

Every year for the past decade, Baker School has presented a unique and creative program in conservation education to prepare their fifth grade students who will take the Florida Assessment Test.

The program, entitled Science Conservation Camp, is held in the Bear Lake Recreation Area within Blackwater River State Forest, and is supported by the fifth grade teachers at Baker School, as well as by Forestry and FWC personnel located at the forest.  The camp theme each year is the same:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

The camp begins at 8:30 am, with 12 topical stations located in a circle in the day use area; each station has a different expert teacher and a specific science topic based on pertinent 5th grade Sunshine State Standards.

The fifth grade students are divided into 12 groups of 10-12 students, and they rotate through each of the 12 stations, breaking halfway through the day for a lunch of hotdogs provided by Okaloosa Gas.  Each student is given a water bottle and refills it during the day.

At each station, the students are expected to write at least 10 facts learned at that station in their journals, which are graded later in the week.  At some stations, the students receive “take-home” items such as rock samples, a tree cookie, or posters that explain the food chain or local birds.

The 12 topics presented are: Aquifer, Amphibians and Reptiles, Skull and Feathers, Owl pellets, Forestry, Fishery, Fishing from the pier, Rocks and Fossils, Campfire and S’mores, Birds (presented by our own Peggy Baker, with assistance from Carole Tebay, Larry Goodman, Shelley Mangram, Pam Beasley and Ellen Rosten), and Longleaf and Wiregrass Forest hike.

At 3:30 pm, two busloads of tuckered out kids (and parents) return to Baker School, full of important facts targeted to the upcoming Science Assessment Test they will take in a few weeks.  Perhaps of more importance in the long run than the impact of the Science Conservation Camp on test scores is the potential impact of the program on over a thousand children living on its doorstep who are growing up to be the next generation of stewards of Blackwater River State Forest.  How do we measure that?!

Francis M. Weston Audubon Society has been privileged to participate in this program for the past four years, and is greatly impressed by the support of the Baker School administration and the coordination of the 5th grade teachers and BWRSF staff personnel who run each station.

Therefore, the 2018 Curtis Kingsbery Education Award is presented to the Baker School, in recognition of the outstanding program of conservation education for their fifth graders, and to the longtime coordinator of the program, Mrs. Annette Loyd. 

By Jim Brady