By Tom Paulson
City Editor 

Middle and High School Students Offered Free Extra-Credit Educational Program

Saturday Heritage Program Promises Fun Outing, Team Landscape Planning


Last updated 11/6/2022 at 11:26am

Courtesy Lake Wales Heritage

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, described as "a fun experience," 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."

Courtesy Lake Wales Heritage

The magnolia trees lining Lakeshore Boulevard are only one element of the expansive streetscape designs created by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. for the City of Lake Wales. The Student Naturalist program is designed to teach the upcoming generations about the origin and cultural value of the historic plantings.

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 12 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.


Reader Comments(1)

Nonanita writes:

This sounds like a very worthwhile program that will benefit the students as well as the whole community. “Raising stewards along with the trees”… I love it!


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