SYRACUSE — Two Wawasee High School students spent spring break in Florida as many local students do, but for these two there was also an educational element involved.
Shawn Pinkerton, junior, and Brittney Jackson, senior, were part of approximately 50 students on a marine biology trip to the Florida Keys. Most of the students were from Goshen High School, the 44th year the school has taken such a trip, but a few other students from Fairfield, Northridge and NorthWood high schools also attended. The group left Wednesday, March 28, on a Cardinal Bus and returned Saturday, April 7.
WHS science teacher Sarah Holsopple also made the trip to Florida.
Based in Layton less than half a mile from the Goshen College marine biology station, the group explored marine life in the Florida Keys area. This involved snorkeling, conducting various experiments including testing water quality among others and a final group project of testing algae growth away from the shore line. The hypothesis of less algae growth farther from the shore line proved not to be always true.
Pinkerton noted there was an opportunity to experience and learn about local culture, as well as visiting a turtle hospital. Sea turtles are sometimes hit by boat propellers or mistakenly eat trash bags slowing down their digestive systems and are then taken to the hospital.
The group saw plenty of fish and also dolphins, stingrays and crabs. Pinkerton was part of a group who went deep sea fishing at night and three of the students caught sharks and one caught a turtle. “We ended up eating the fish we caught and had sort of our own fish fry,” he said.
And as a service project, the group of students spent a couple of hours cleaning up hurricane damage in a state park.
Both students indicated the trip was a positive experience and they were the first two Wawasee students to make the trip. Goshen High School has sent students for several years and this year extended an invitation for Wawasee students to join them.
Jackson plans to study animal science at Purdue University beginning in the fall. Pinkerton is undecided on a specific major, but indicated he will probably pursue working with animal rescue programs.