Friday, December 3, 2021

Extracurricular Learning Opportunities Abound

Participants in the Field-based Estuarine Studies program trawl for samples.

Participants in the Field-based Estuarine Studies program trawl for samples.

By Don Manley

Learning will not only take place in the classroom during the 2016-2017 school year thanks to a variety of Marco Island- area nonprofits and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The Greater Marco Family YMCA, the Marco Island Center for the Arts, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Mackle Park all offer opportunities for youths to expand their knowledge and skills, and to have fun too.

Below is a listing of the programs offered by these providers:

Mackle Park Fall Programs

  • Punt, Pass and Kick: 5-6 PM, Sept. 20 – Boys and girls ages 6-15 are eligible to take part in this free event. Competitors are broken down into five age groups: 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15. Girls and boys compete separately with winners6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15. Girls and boys compete separately with winners advancing to sectional competition.
  • Glamour Spa: 3:30-5 PM, Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26 – Third through fifth graders will enjoy an afternoon of pampering, learning application of lip gloss, nail polish and more. They will also make t-shirts, flip-flops, headbands and hair ties, while sipping tea and eating muf- fins. Children will take everything they make home to create their very own day spa. Big Red Transportation will pick up children at Tommie Barfield Elementary School and transport them to Mackle’s Glamour Spa.
  • Spanish Camp: 3:30-5 PM, Nov. 1-4 – Now is the time to introduce your third through fifth grader to Spanish as a second language. This first-time enrichment camp will include numbers, colors, body parts, greetings and an examination of Hispanic cultures. Fun teaching techniques will be combined with mu- sic, games and outside activities.
  • Howl-O-Scream: October 13th – Sixth through 12 graders are invited to attend an annual trip to Busch Gardens to celebrate the “Haunting Hours.” The bus will leave at 4 PM and return at 4 AM. It’s a frightful night of fun and terror!
  • Parents Night Out: 6–10 PM, Oct 14 and Nov. 11 – Looking for a night out on the town? Parks and Recreation will host a Parents Night Out where your child can have fun with crafts, outdoor and indoor games, with dinner provided. Bring your child for a night of fun and laughter while you enjoy your time!
  • Spooktacular: 4-6 PM, Oct. 29– Ghouls will be out with the annual Halloween celebration. There will be music, games, crafts, Critterman, balloon twisting, face painting, entertainment and food, all packed into one scary night. There’ll be a costume contest for infants to children 10 years old.
  • Movie in the Park begins Oct. 28 on the football field, and will be held each Friday through March. Call Mackle Park for movie times and movie themes at 239-642-0575.

Mackle Park is located at 1361 Andalusia Terrace. For more information about the programs there, visit www.cityofmarcois or call 239-642-0575.

Greater Marco Family YMCA

The Y’s school-year programs were kicked off by the start of the Early Learn- ing classes at its Sand Hill Street campus’s Youth Development Center.

Led by credentialed teachers, the day- long, Early Learning programs are for children ages 2-5, who are divided into three

age-based groups. It is joined by two part- time options, Young Explorers and Leap Frog.

Young Explorers offers two four-hour- long sessions, Monday through Friday, in which children interact socially, but are also exposed to a strong educational component.

“Leap Frogs” is a full-day program that offers sessions either Monday through Wednesday or Tuesday through Thursday. The hours are 7 AM to 6:30 PM and children can be dropped off at any point during that time frame.

The programs focus on preparing, educationally, the youths for kindergarten. They also stress the Y’s core principles of respect, responsibility, caring and honesty, along with its Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards.

Sharing the same focus is the Y’s pre- school program, which serves children 2–5 years old. The program has sections:

  • The Butterfly Classroom, Ages 2-3 years
  • The Frog Classroom, Ages 3-4 years
  • The Duck Classroom, Ages 4-5 years

For more information, contact Stephanie Pepper, the Y’s youth development manager at 239-394-9622, ext. 104 or by email at

There’s also an after-school program, known as A.S.P.I.R.E., for After School Program for Inspiration, Recreation and Education. The program is offered from 2:30 to 6:30 PM on weekdays at the Marco campus, as well as Parkside and Manatee elementary schools.

A.S.P.I.R.E features snacks, a designated

Participants from the Marco Island Center for the Arts 2015 Young Artists Academy. Submitted Photos

Participants from the Marco Island Center for the Arts 2015 Young Artists Academy. Submitted Photos

homework time, a weekly themed curriculum, daily fitness activities and a focus on technology.

  • The Y’s annual Back to School Bash is set for 7 to 9 PM, Sept. 2 at the Youth Development Center and the pool. Children in grades one through five are invited to take part in food, games and swimming. The cost is $5 per child.

There are also programs for young teens:

The 8th Grade Girls Club and 8th Grade Boys Club are for students at Marco   Island Charter Middle School (MICMS). The programs’ mission is to empower young men and women through healthy lifestyles.

The Youth In Government After School Club is a program for MICMS students, in recognition of the fact all public middle school students in Florida are required to pass Civics before high school.

The Greater Marco Family YMCA is located at 101 Sand Hill St. To learn more about its programs, visit or call 239-394-9622.

Marco Island Center For The Arts

The Center’s Young Artists Academy offers art experiences for middle-and high school students with talent and an interest in art. The eight-week program provides the opportunity to learn techniques and to further develop skills.

Classes will be held on Saturday mornings on Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, and on Nov. 5, 12 and 19. Each participant will participate in two of three mediums. Each youth who applies will be asked to rank their preferences and the center will try its best to meet those choices. Students will spend four weeks studying each of two mediums.

Instruction is provided by professional, practicing artists who will model the experiences needed to prepare for a lifetime of art as either a vocation, or as a serious sup- porter of the arts. The classes and required materials are free.

The program is open to youths in grades seven through 12, who must be recommended by an art teacher from their school. Qualified Home Schooled children will also be eligible. Space is limited and slots are filled on a first-to-apply basis. Applications will not be accepted after Sept. 22.

Once accepted to the program, students are expected to fulfill their commitment by being on time and in attendance for each session. There can only be one excused absence.

Marco Island Center for the Arts is located at 1010 Winterberry Drive. For additional information, contact Hyla Crane at or 239-394- 4221.

Rookery Bay National Estaurine Research Reserve

Rookery Bay educates an average of 3,000 Collier County students annually through its field trip program. The three main programs are briefly described below:

  • Fourth Grade Estuary Explorers: The program involves teacher train-ing workshops, classroom investiga-tions, hands-on activities and field trips to Rookery’s Environmental Learning Center activities, and the provision of all required supplies. There’s a live plank-ton lab, an introductory oyster lab, an estuarine conditions investigation and an integration of the STEAM– Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics – educational approach to learning. For more information contact Dita O’Boyle, elementary education spe-cialist, at dita.o’
  • Rookery Bay SURVIVORS: De-signed for seventh-grade students, this program helps teachers and students understand more about the region’s coastal environment, as well as engage them in the scientific process. Activities incorporate critical thinking strategies, high-level questioning and scientific techniques. There’s a live crab adapta-tion lab, an advanced oyster lab, pre-and-post-trip activities in class and an integration of the STEAM– Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics – educational approach to learning. For more information, contact middle school education specialist Jean-nine Windsor at jeannine.windsor@
  • Field-based Estuarine Studies: This program is designed to educate high school and college students using field-based explorations. Programs are con-ducted onboard one of several Rookery Bay education vessels and are appropri-ate for classes such as marine biology, environmental science, oceanography, general biology, chemistry and more. Teachers are required to complete train-ing and classroom-based investigations prior to trips. For more information, contact Dave Graff, high school and college education specialist at david.
  • Homeschool Groups: Students and their families can enjoy a day of age-appropriate estuarine learning experi-ences led by Rookery’s marine science educators. Programs are designed for students in grades 1 through 10. For more information contact Jeannine Windsor, middle school education spe-cialist at jeannine.windsor@dep.state.
  • Field Trips: Requests for other field trips should be sent to Sarah Falkowski at For more information about Rookery

For more information about Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and its programs visit or call 239-530-5940.

2 responses to “Extracurricular Learning Opportunities Abound”

  1. Rob Tropp says:

    Any program scheduled this year?


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