The 2023 education season for Pigeon Key has come to an end, and what fun it has been! It’s been another amazing year on the island filled with tidepooling, snorkeling, learning about Florida Keys marine life, and much more. Over the education season, we had over 25 groups visit us, including a few new schools! We had schools from all over visit us this season, from not only different parts of Florida but other states further away such as Iowa and Ohio.

All of us staff had a wonderful time teaching students, especially the interns. Our 2023 interns were able to talk about a variety of topics, ranging from the marine habitats we find throughout the Florida keys to how mantis shrimp have some of the most powerful punches in the animal kingdom! One of the favorite activities for students was tidepooling, where they could find some interesting invertebrates such as sea urchins and sea stars. Caleb, one of our 2023 interns, considered tidepooling his favorite activity on the island, and was always on the hunt for an octopus or two. He’s very excited for his new position as a Naturalist Speaker on a cruise line this coming November. Anna, or “Tex”, loved sharing her passion for invertebrates, and loved to be out tidepooling with summer campers and students every chance she had. Tex is now working with the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island, Georgia, as a Coastal Environmental Educator, where she will be teaching hands-on classes on a variety of topics, ranging from barrier island ecology to ornithology, as well as providing care to the resident animals! Hannah is also working alongside with Tex at the Burton 4-H Center as a Coastal Environmental Educator. She loved to be in the water snorkeling with students and showing them the cool critters they could find by flipping over rocks. Anna, another intern, loved to be out on our dock fishing with visiting campers and students, helping them catch fish like mangrove snapper and even a few tarpon! She will be starting her new job as an Environmental Educator with the Georgia 4-H at Jekyll Island in Georgia, where she will be educating school groups about marine science and providing care for sea turtles! One of Sarah’s favorite parts of the internship was teaching about the history of Pigeon Key and how it played a vital part in building the railroad throughout the Florida Keys. She even found a few “dog bones” used for the concrete of the bridge for some of the students! Sarah will be staying on with Pigeon Key as the newest Education Coordinator for the 2024 season, and can’t wait for what the future has in store.

Many fun times were had during summer camp, ranging from Fun Friday competitions to our underwater obstacle course, where campers had the chance to show off their snorkeling skills. The campers and Pigeon Key staff always loved bonfire night, making s’mores and watching the sunset, and enjoyed every minute of it! One of the favorite activities campers enjoyed was snorkeling at Sombrero Reef, where they could see hundreds of fish and coral species.

With the 2023 season over, it’s also left us with a few more goodbyes to make. Maia, our former Education Coordinator, is now at Duke University, where she is pursuing her Master’s degree in Marine Science. She began her time with Pigeon Key in 2022 as an intern, and became the Education Coordinator after the 2022 season ended. She will miss relaxing on the dock and playing volleyball with students and campers, as well as throwing a frisbee or two! We wish her the best of luck and will miss her dearly. Pigeon Key staff are excited for the next education and summer camp season, as well as the next intern class to arrive in January!