INDIAN RIVER COUNTY- One of the special activities that Gifford Youth Achievement Center kids get to experience is spending time in nature thanks to the Indian River Land Trust and other eco-friendly organizations like the Environmental Learning Center. The children have a great time getting out of their regular routine by exploring the woods, learning about things like butterflies, the lagoon and natural Florida wildlife as well as kayak fun.

The Indian River Land Trust will once again host GYAC at five programs for the children this year. Wednesday, Oct. 19, a dozen elementary-aged kids from GYAC went to the Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail to pick up Mangrove propagules (plant seed pods) and learn about butterflies in the woods near the river.

After spending an hour and a half exploring and listening to IRLT Director of Land Protection David Heuberger, and Volunteer Coordinator Ken Gonyo, Conservation Assistant Leslie London passed out gooey pizza and water bottles to the kids. As they happily munched their pizza they were asked how they enjoyed the Trail and they all smiled and chorused they had a good time.

“If you look and listen hard enough; you can actually listen to the pictures and hear the fun the youth were having on the field trip,” said Woolfork looking at a photo of the day.

This is the third year IRLT has partnered with GYAC to do Wednesdays in Nature with the kids when they have a half day at school.

“For a lot of the kids it seems like they just don’t have the opportunities to run around in the woods and we let them do that here,” said Heuberger. They just have a good time exploring. I love being outdoors with children because it allows me to see a lot of things for the first time through their wonderment and it helps me be appreciative of nature.”

Future IRLT trips will include interacting with wildlife at the trail with a presentation by the Busch Wildlife Center; a nature hike and geocaching at the Lagoon Greenway using GPS and a kayak excursion at MacWilliams Park with Adventure Kayaking.

GYAC also takes trips to the ELC campus, Riverside Theatre, Vero Beach Museum of Art and the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River.

Gifford Youth Achievement Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit agency which accepts students during after school hours for education, mentoring and tutoring to reach their academic goals to graduate high school and higher education.

Contact: (772) 794-1005 or

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