I had two goals when I created “Poetry Spots” on the SPC Seminole campus where I teach in the heart of Pinellas County. First I wanted students to discover the little oasis of natural Florida tucked away on campus and connect that environment to Florida poetry I teach in Composition. The campus Natural Habitat Trail is a boardwalk park meandering through campus upland scrub, including tall pines covering an under story of palmetto bushes surrounded by a lily pond. This landscape was threatened by urban sprawl surrounding the campus. When the college expanded and built a new campus in Seminole, it pledged to set aside several acres for a nature preserve. Since many of our students are new to college and new to Florida, my second goal was to introduce them to a natural, non-beach Florida landscape. For their environmental sciences writing assignment, I take them to the Natural Habitat Trail on campus. They’re sure to see turtles, birds, and butterflies. If they’re lucky, they might see the otters playing in the ponds or a hawk sitting on a tree branch. A few hundred yards away, a four-lane highway rumbles with traffic. I hope by taking them on a campus field trip to this micro ecosystem, it makes it easier for students to understand this swampy Florida environment and why we should protect it. I created stickers printed with QR codes that link to a poetry webpage and called the project Poetry Spots. The picture below shows three of my students discovering poetry and botanical information as they walked the natural habitat trail.
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