Interested in having a private program for your group on or off the trails? Request a program with us! All ages and interests welcome. Have a specific interest or need? Let us know and we can curate a program just for you.
Want to supplement your students’ learning with hands-on nature-based activities on or off the trails? Request a program from our educators for one of our four trail systems or at your school/community center! We offer both standards-based programs and standards-referenced programs. Have a specific interest or need? Let us know and we can curate a program just for you.
Students hike with our educators 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.
Existing standards-based programs for 2nd and 3rd grade:
Walk Through a Watershed (WTW) was designed with and for Collier County 3rd grade classes based on Florida standards (CPALMS). In this two-part program, students complete a scavenger hunt as we discuss the differences between flowering plants and non-flowering plants, evidence of fire, air plants, and importance of the watershed. Students will also complete a water-quality activity, where they will dipnet for aquatic animals, test the pH, and discuss water quality factors. Each student will have a booklet, pencil, and bag for the program.
If you are a CCPS 3rd grade teacher, request WTW through the FTS program coordinator or inquire with the CREW Trust education coordinator. (firstname.lastname@example.org) This program can be adapted for classes outside of Collier county.
Soil ROCKS! (SR) was designed with and for Collier County 2rd grade classes based on Florida standards (CPALMS). In this two-part program, students complete a series of activties learning about birds, animal anatomy, basic identification of plants and animals, and the importance of the watershed. Students will also complete a soil-science activity, where they will study three different ecosystems along a hike by taking a soil sample, testing the soil moisture, and learning about plants and animals who live there. Each student will have a booklet, pencil, and bag for the program.
If you are a CCPS 2rd grade teacher, request SR through the FTS program coordinator or inquire with the CREW Trust education coordinator. (email@example.com) This program can be adapted for classes outside of Collier county.
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:
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.