More than 135 Immokalee second-graders participated in Guadalupe Center’s 27th annual Buddy Day, a nature-focused field trip on March 8 to Hideaway Beach on Marco Island.
Buddy Day pairs community volunteers with Immokalee elementary students for a day of fun and exploration of Southwest Florida’s unique coastal habitat.
“For many of these children, Buddy Day is their first real field trip, and also the first time they’ve visited a local beach to learn about mangroves, sea life and our coastal habitat,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center. “It’s an experience they’ll certainly treasure, but our volunteers and sponsors also enjoy inspiring the next generation of nature enthusiasts.”
Nearly 150 volunteers buddied up immediately after students stepped off the bus. This year, volunteers from the communities of Hideaway Beach Club, Verona Walk, Fiddlers Creek, Pelican Marsh, Stone Creek and Lely donated their time and friendship to students. Rangers from Everglades National Park led nature exploration activities, while rangers from Big Cypress National Preserve coordinated a kid-friendly birding program. Staff of the Marco Island YMCA ran a series of interactive games for the children.
This year’s sponsors included Cheney Brothers, Culligan, FreshPoint, Kids 2 Camp, Oakes Farms, Sysco and Hideaway Beach Club.
About Guadalupe Center
Guadalupe Center is a purpose-driven, nonprofit organization with proven results in creating endless possibilities for the students of Immokalee through education and fostering personal and academic success that leads to economic independence. With a focus on breaking the cycle of poverty through education, Guadalupe Center is proud of the children’s accomplishments: 94 percent meet or exceed kindergarten readiness measures, 100 percent of Tutor Corps high school seniors graduate high school and are accepted into college, and more than 92 percent graduate with a post-secondary degree.