Homosassa students learn about river environment Children spend day boating with professionals

For the Chronicle

Warm temperatures were an added benefit for students at Homosassa Elementary School as they prepared for their annual trek down Yulee Drive to spend the day recently on the Homosassa River.

It was the annual fifth-grade fishing trip on the Homosassa River and the excitement couldn’t have been greater. For some students, this was their first time in a boat, while others are seasoned professionals — and more than willing to help show the novices the ropes.

“I think this is the eighth year we’ve done this,” said teacher Angela Bennett, who’s been on most of the jaunts.

“I went with the students last year for my first time. They really enjoyed it. We all did,” said principal Alice Harrell.

Although it appears to be all fun and games with a great deal of laughing, students also learn firsthand from some of the most experienced guides in Homosassa.

This annual trip, founded by teacher Mike Baize, is sponsored by members of the Homosassa Guides Association. Each year, numerous guides donate their time, their boats, gas, bait and — more importantly — their knowledge of the river and its wildlife.

A short walk from the school to Riverside Resort revealed a dozen boats and guides waiting for passengers. Each guide took four students and one volunteer instructor. With life jackets secure, students boarded the boats armed with equipment they used for scientific data, as well as a special lunch from the school cafeteria. They were followed by the instructor armed with lesson plans.

Wildlife spotting and identification, water testing and experiments were the order of the day, but time was also reserved to allow for a little fishing before returning to the dock. The day was be filled with so much learning, most students probably didn’t even realize it.

Rochelle Kaiser

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