FMNP Spotlight Archive

FMNP Makes a Difference at Matanzas Pass Preserve

Jim and Dorothy Rodwell

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 unique attributes.

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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