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About 120 Braden River Elementary School second-graders, teachers and chaperones gather before the start of their field trip at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.
East County Tuesday, Apr. 18, 2017 4 years ago

Turtles take all

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Braden River Elementary raises $1,000 for the sea turtle project at Mote Marine.
by: Berkley Mason Staff Writer

It looks like Manatee County sea turtles will need to take a trip to the bank. They are about to receive a hefty check from second-graders at Braden River Elementary School.

For the second year, Braden River Elementary School second-graders raised money for the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. Together, the six second-grade classes raised $1,001 compared with last year’s donation of $678.

“It was really cute,” second-grade teacher Lorraine Moxham-Smith said. “Some of my students, because I had all of the money we had raised sitting on my desk, saw the money and kept telling me that the turtles were going to be rich. It was so funny. Kids are so fun.”

The Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, which will receive the money, has been monitoring sea turtle nesting areas for the past 36 years. The program also educates people about keeping area beaches safe for the nests, said Hayley Rutger, a Mote spokeswoman.

“The sea turtles need all the help we can get, especially considering that we (Mote Marine) are a nonprofit,” Rutger said. “When interested, passionate kids want to help. That is always a great thing.”

Braden River Elementary began raising money last year for the turtle program after a conversation between Moxham-Smith and Kate Knepper, a development associate at Mote Marine.

Braden River Elementary School second graders reach for the sea turtle at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.
Braden River Elementary School second graders reach for the sea turtle at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.

Knowing the second-graders would be taking a field trip to Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Moxham-Smith reached out for a fundraising opportunity, and Knepper suggested the turtle program. The students were able to raise more this year because they “extended” their fundraisers, Moxham-Smith said.

Last year, the students did the March for Mote fundraiser. Every day in March, the students would walk the bus loop and ask drivers for pledges and donations for their cause, which they also did this year.

Surprisingly, when the March for Mote came to an end, students didn’t want to halt their daily exercise, said Mindy Walsh, another Braden River Elementary second grade teacher.

“They were all so excited about walking every day,” Walsh said. 

This year, in addition to the March for Mote, students made, bagged and sold popcorn on campus to raise even more money.

Braden River Elementary second grade teacher Lorraine Moxham-Smith and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium's Kate Knepper show off the turtle cards made by Braden River's second grade students.
Braden River Elementary second grade teacher Lorraine Moxham-Smith and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium's Kate Knepper show off the turtle cards made by Braden River's second grade students.

“This quarter we talk about living things, so it fits into our curriculum as well,” Moxham-Smith said. “We also researched and wrote papers on sea turtles. But learning tends to have much more meaning when the kids are involved in this way, rather than me just standing in front of the class and lecturing.”

Braden River Elementary second-grader Sloane Greer is now a big fan of sea turtles and was excited to hear she would be visiting Mote Marine, her favorite place to go.

“I know all about the leatherback sea turtle now,” Greer said. “I like that they swim under water then come back up to breathe. I haven’t been to the aquarium in a while, and this is my favorite place to go because I get to see and learn about new animals.”

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