CREW hoping to develop future environmentalists through program for students

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Some Collier County second graders learned how to love and better understand the environment on Wednesday.

WINK News spoke with CREW workers and volunteers about how they developed a passion for nature.

“My love of the environment started when I was a kid. And we would go ahead and build forts in the woods and things like that. And my father and I would go fishing and canoeing,” Ralph Czekalinski, a CREW volunteer, said.

“I was in nature a lot. As a kid, my parents would take my brother and I camping,” Julie Motkowicz, a CREW education coordinator, said. “Those were times that was like core memories for me.”

Core memories that Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, CREW, now shares with curious kids hoping to develop future environmentalists.

“This program is an introduction for most students into interacting with the environment being outside, we love to start the day and ask them how many of them have never been on a hike,” Motkowicz said.


“A lot have never walked in the woods. A lot of them haven’t seen any of these animals. And you’re opening a door for them… that I hope that they take it a little bit further and continue it,” Czekalinski said.

On Wednesday, they studied four different ecosystems, got hands-on experience with skeletons, learned how to use binoculars, and how to find other animals.

But the significance of the excursion goes beyond a fun field trip.

“I think if you get them out here like young enough, you can show them the importance of protecting, you know, areas like this and why we need them in our environment,” Logan Wachtel, a second-grade teacher at Lake Park Elementary, said.

Students learning about the environment. CREDIT: WINK News

“It makes me happy to think that we’re creating, you know, the next generation of land stewards,” Motkowicz said.

The CREW lands are for more than just second graders. Their trails are open to the public year-round and are free.

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