FMNP Spotlight Archive
FMNP Makes a Difference at Matanzas Pass Preserve
Jim and Dorothy Rodwell moved to Fort Myers Beach in 2003 and discovered the natural
beauty of Matanzas Pass Preserve. They wanted to share their love of the 60-acre
preserve and contribute to keeping the preserve available to future generations
as an example of what the area once looked like prior to the development boom.
Jim describes what happened as follows: We worked for several years as Friends of
Matanzas Pass Preserve in mitigation and restoration efforts. During those activities,
Terry Cain, Land Steward for Lee County Parks and Recreation, encouraged us to attend
the Florida Master Naturalist Program. So, in 2007 we enrolled in the Coastal Module
taught by Joanne Semmer at the Ostego Bay Foundation. After completing that module,
we volunteered to meet the need for guided interpretive walks in the Preserve.
The materials from the FMNP provided the basis of Jim’s interpretive walk through
a mangrove habitat, transition zone, and oak hammock. Dorothy found the ethnobotany
materials especially interesting and developed an interpretive walk based on those
and other materials that both entertains and educates. In fact, the pilot of the
concept was tested out in Jim’s final project presentation in the Wetland Module
taught by Sally Stein at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. It worked out well!
Soon another program was developed by the Rodwells called “Stress Detox” and an
exciting new effort will integrate earth education into children’s programs in a
manner that satisfies scholastic standards, is fun, and highlights the preserve’s
Jim completed all 3 modules and became a Florida Master Naturalist in 2009 and Dorothy
in 2010. The Rodwells stated that in addition to the FMNP materials, the friendships
and educational connections that have been made among talented FMNP graduates has
been appreciated and valuable. The Rodwells are excited about the new Special Topics
courses as well. Without the FMNP, the Rodwells contend that having the confidence
to become active Lee County Volunteers and contribute to educational programs about
Matanzas Pass Preserve may never have happened.
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