Communication Builds Our Community

Students Can Earn Special Certificate on Lake Wales Patrimony

Middle and High School Students Now Invited to Participate

A special free learning opportunity is being offered to area Middle and High School students, who will learn and earn a special completion certificate as "Student Naturalists."The program is being offered in special Saturday events at Lake Wales Public Library, and will be led by certified Florida educators.

The three-hour educational program is being hosted by Lake Wales Heritage, a local non-profit endeavoring to recreate the "garden city" Envisioned by city founders. While learning about the history of the city and the people who created it, students will be exposed to the principles of landscape architecture, environmental concepts, and the various related career paths.

The unique history of Lake Wales and the people who shaped it, including Edward Bok and Frederick Law Olmsted, are featured in the programs. They will include custom video presentations and a teamwork exercise in landscape architecture.

The classroom experience will also include a walking field trip through Olmsted's historic landscapes in Crystal Lake Park and the adjoining blocks. Students participating will learn about the Garden City Movement that inspired the city's four founders, Mssrs. Tillman, Stuart, Bullard, and Johnson, to plan the town with protected central parks and protected lakeshores.

"We realized early on that the reason the original landscapes of Lake Wales weren't protected and maintained is because very few people talked about them and the knowledge was gradually lost.," said Heritage president Robert Connors. "Our former vice president of education, Nikki Sealey, told us that we need to 'Raise the Stewards as we Raise the Trees,' and we took her advice to heart."

Lake Wales Heritage is led by a 12-member board of directors representing every part of the community. The organization has led several "action days" of tree planting and maintenance, which have included student volunteers from Edward Bok Academy and the Lake Wales High School Interact Club.

The Student Naturalist program is being funded through a grant from the Mountain Lake Community Services. Students may apply for the program through their schools, or by reaching out to the program administrators by writing to [email protected]. The program is open to students in sixth through 12th grades, including home-schooled students and those from Bok Academy North and South campuses, McLaughlin, Lake Wales High School, and area private schools.

Some schools and teachers are also offering extra classroom credit.


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