UK students take annual visit to FGCU to explore local wetlands

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:

Several students from Wales went right into Southwest Florida’s wetlands to explore in the midst of murky water, moss, frogs and maybe even a couple gators.

It’s all done in an effort to learn about our diverse and active environment.

The annual trip from Europe to Florida Gulf Coast University allows those students to experience an environment they have never seen before.

Students from Bangor University are in the waist-deep waters of the FGCU wetlands.

“I just felt myself submerging like deeper and deeper. I was like, ‘Oh, when does it stop?’ Luckily, belly button, it stops at the belly button,” said Charlotte Franks, a second-year student at the University of Bangor.

Touring FGCU wetlands. CREDIT: WINK News

The students were exposed to wetlands that are hard to come by back home in Wales.

“Even the trees. We don’t kind of have the trees here. And it’s obviously warmer here. And this wildlife,” said student Jake Rossley.

The FGCU campus itself is also unique. It spans 800 acres, 50% of which is wetlands and conservation areas.

“You just kind of see concrete infrastructures, either. And then just like, not just things, but it’s kind of integrated here,” said Rossley.

“We’ve been coming here for ten years now to FGCU, bringing students from Bangor University,” said Dr. Christian Dunn, a wetland scientist from the University of Bangor.

He may be biased as a wetland scientist, but Dunn says the SWFL wetlands are the answer to everything.

“Many of the problems we’re facing climate change, flooding, hurricanes for yourselves. Nature can help us protect us from that,” said Dunn.

While Wales and SWFL have a stark contrast, care for our environment is essential everywhere.

“There is nothing more important than getting young people or anybody but people to experience natural habitats in whatever way they can,” said Dunn.

Dunn got his Ph.D. at FGCU and has been bringing students from the UK every year for more than a decade.

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