Photo: Animal Habitats

EdExploreSRQ New Discoveries: Part 2 – One Parent’s Voice Stirs Untapped Opportunities

Posted on August 04, 2021 by Wendy Katz, consultant EdExploreSRQ
During a recent conversation with Jeannie Perales, former Vice President for Museum Exhibits, Learning, and Engagement, and Anastasia Sallen, Director of Environmental Education at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, they shared that despite the pandemic restrictions, they produced several different virtual Explorations. These featured the Downtown Sarasota Campus Virtual Garden Tour, Where Land Meets Sea: Mangrove and Estuary Virtual Tour, the Carefree Learner, and new two additions at the Historic Spanish Point campus centering on (1) Florida History, Archeology and Early People, (2) Pioneer Life. They also partnered with Embracing Our Differences (EOD) for Virtual Leaf Lab Exploration, investigating bio-diversity.

Over 1,000 students booked tours this past year, and Selby Gardens broadened its reach with schools participating from Michigan and California.

Jeannie and Anastasia are especially interested in finding ways to connect with parents. During our discussion, they mentioned a parent who registered her daughter for an Exploration to enhance her schooling during COVID. This parent was quite concerned that all field trips were eliminated.

I followed up with Heather Carpenter so she could retell her story exchange with EdExploreSRQ:

As an independent mom, she sought opportunities to fill the gap since there were no field trips. Ms. Carpenter, along with a small informal network of moms, was in awe of the uniqueness that Explorations offered children. She commented on the value of having knowledgeable staff provide scripted tours without distractions of bathroom trips and bees. Live archeologists sharing the breadth and depth of their knowledge were no match for a parent trying to explain what kids were seeing from their limited experiences or recall. She commented several times on how surprised she was regarding the quality and passion of the presenters and the ability of her daughter to engage using a virtual platform. She reviewed the resources associated with the Explorations and again was delighted with the creativity and excellence. She commended the Providers for their commitment to offering such exemplary learning experiences and was rather shocked that until she stumbled upon EdExploreSRQ, she had never heard about this website, the Explorations, their alignment with curriculum standards, etc. By observing and listening to the guides, she felt she learned a great deal about interacting with her child in a more efficacious manner.

This parent’s discovery of EdExploreSRQ and her positive response underscores the need for more outreach with parents so we can leverage the value of parent engagement with EdExploreSRQ, expanding the benefits from this tremendous resource. It appears that offering both virtual and in-person Explorations presents parents with more options and flexibility. In the future, let’s commit to exploring more possibilities for strengthening connections with families, increasing participation and opportunities for shared learning with EdExploreSRQ! Maybe a virtual experience will whet their appetites for an in-person family excursion!

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