K-12 Field Trips

The CREW Trust welcomes all school groups to the CREW Trails! Our education coordinator will engage your group  in focused environmental education activities that help children learn to love and understand the natural world. We work directly with Collier and Lee County schools as well as home school groups, charter and private schools, scout groups, and summer camps in Southwest Florida.

Students hike with our education coordinator to explore and learn about water, soils, plants, animals, prescribed fire, historical uses by the Calusa, European, and early American settlers and more during their time on the CREW Trails. Trips can be customized to your students’ needs. We use four (4) different trail systems (CREW Flint Pen Strand, CREW Marsh Trails, CREW Cypress Dome Trails, and CREW Bird Rookery Swamp) to provide a variety of opportunities for the students. Trail will be chosen by the education coordinator to fit the needs of your group and desired program subject. We also encourage and welcome your group to perform a service project with the education coordinator at the CREW trails.

The CREW Trust offers the following field trips for K – 12 students:

Walk Through a Watershed Trip (designed with and for Collier County 3rd grade classes) – students will hike a section of the CREW Marsh trails and learn about the different ecosystems before learning about the watershed and viewing the 5,000-acre sawgrass marsh. On the second half of the field trip, students will use dipnets to explore the organisms found in the water and discuss their place in the watershed.

Soil ROCKS! – designed to align with 2nd grade standards, this program focuses on the types of soil found in different habitats and how that soil affects the wildlife and plant-life in that habitat.

Teacher Training: 

Student groups:

Pre-Kindergarten:

  • Growing Up WILD – wildlife focused lessons. Correlations to Head Start and National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC).

Elementary:

  • Growing Up WILD – wildlife focused lessons through 2nd grade (see above)
  • Project WILD – wildlife focused lessons correlated to Florida standards.
  • Aquatic WILD – water wildlife focused lessons correlated to Florida standards.
  • Project Learning Tree (PLT) – tree focused lessons correlated to Florida standards.
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Great Florida Birding Trail (GFBT) Junior Birder for 3rd and 4th grade
  • A Land Remembered – a history of 20th century Florida
  • Keepers of the Earth – lessons in indigenous peoples of North America

Middle:

  • Flying WILD – bird focused lessons for teachers, volunteers, and students including a guide to plan and execute a school bird festival. Correlated with National Science Education Standards with detailed info links: https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/flying-wild/flying-wild-resources.
  • Project WILD – wildlife focused lessons correlated to Florida standards.
  • Aquatic WILD – water wildlife focused lessons correlated to Florida standards.
  • Project Learning Tree (PLT) – tree focused lessons correlated to Florida standards.
  • A Land Remember – a history of 20th century Florida
  • Keepers of the Earth – lessons in indigenous peoples of North American
  • Discover a Watershed: The Everglades – water specific issues for our region

High:

  • Project WILD – wildlife focused lessons correlated to Florida standards.
  • Aquatic WILD – marine focused lessons correlated to Florida standards.
  • Keepers of the Earth – lessons in indigenous peoples of North America
  • Discover a Watershed: The Everglades – water specific issues for our region

Other Informal Education:

  • Leave No Trace – outdoor ethics and skills
  • Prescribed Fire

To schedule a school field trip:

  • Call 239-229-1088 to inquire about availability and to discuss your needs.
  • Collier County 2nd & 3rd grade teachers only – must request a Walk Through the Watershed or Soil ROCKS! field trip using the online registration system set up by the Science Department.
  • All other teachers can download the following form and email the Education Coordinator at education@crewtrust.org

Background Information for Teachers, Students and Parents

Here are some short videos about the CREW project that you can show your students before the field trip:

  1. What is CREW?
  2. CREW: The Big Classroom
  3. CREW: Back to Nature

The CREW project began in 1989 after several years of drought caused wells to go dry in southern Lee County. The Lee County Commission asked the South Florida Water Management District to buy the Flint Pen Strand for a water recharge area to ensure a better water supply for southern Lee County. At the same time, Corkscrew Swamp and the Conservancy of Naples asked the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to buy Bird Rookery Swamp to protect the southern and western edges of the Corkscrew Sanctuary. The Water Management District studied the area and discovered there was an even larger undisturbed area of wetland in this watershed system and determined that the whole system needed to be protected.

However, the SFWMD could not afford to purchase the whole project at one time. So, some concerned citizens formed the CREW Land & Water Trust, a private, non‐profit organization whose mission is to coordinate and oversee the purchase and management of the CREW lands. With a lot of determination and through partnerships with state and local governments, private landowners and businesses, environmental organizations and interested citizens, the first parcels of land were bought in 1990. Since then, 27,000 acres of the 60,000‐acre project have been purchased for conservation.

Protecting this land provides a place for water to slowly seep in to the ground, recharging the aquifer with drinking water. It also allows water to spread out and flow across the land where vegetation can filter pollutants out of the water before it reaches the Gulf. In addition to providing for clean water, protecting this land also makes available habitat for wildlife and recreation lands for the public.

The SFWMD has since taken ownership of most of the land and now manages the land to restore water flow, remove exotic plants and animals, and re‐plant native vegetation. The CREW Land & Water Trust provides most of the education and outreach programs and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides law enforcement and wildlife management on the CREW properties.

In 1994, the CREW Marsh Hiking Trails off of Collier County Road 850 (Corkscrew Road) were opened for public access. These trails provide hikers with an opportunity to see pine flatwoods, oak hammocks and the Corkscrew Marsh along five miles of hiking trails. In 2008, the CREW Cypress Dome Trails were opened. In 2011, the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trails in Naples opened to the public. The final installment of trail systems, CREW Flint Pen Strand Trails officially opened in 2018 in Bonita Springs. The trails are open, free of charge, from sunrise to sunset all year.