Anyone interested in learning more about the natural habitats, wildlife and wildlife of the Georgian coast will have the opportunity to do so this week from the comfort of their home or classroom.
The annual CoastFest event, hosted by the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, will return this week in a virtual format due to the recent local spread of COVID-19.
“This will be our second year in a row doing Virtual CoastFest,” said Tyler Jones, CoastFest coordinator for CRD. “CoastFest in general, when we do it in person, is one of the biggest awareness events organized by MNR. The last time we did it in 2019 we had around 10,000 people there. “
Virtual CoastFest aims to maintain this educational experience in a way that is pandemic-aware, Jones said.
But the event’s long-standing mission to showcase coastal ecosystems and work to protect the region’s natural resources remains intact, said Karl Burgess, deputy director of CRD.
“We have a long history of doing this,” said Burgess, who said this year’s CoastFest would be its 19th appearance. “We’ve been doing this for 25 years now, and every year is always a new little challenge or a new opportunity to improve it a bit. The last couple of years have obviously been a challenge with COVID and trying to consider social distancing and that sort of thing, but I really want everyone to know that we at Coastal Resources at DNR here are really determined to continue. our education and awareness regarding the conservation of our coastal resources.
This year, CRD staff paid particular attention to ensuring that the event best serves educators, parents and students in the region. CoastFest will take place Tuesday through Thursday, and each day will feature three events that will start at 8.45am, 10.45am and 2.15pm.
“The reason we timed it like this is that we actually worked with the Glynn County School System to make sure these live events started at a time that teachers could easily take advantage of,” said Jones.
The target audience, he said, are local students. Events will include a virtual excursion on CRD’s new research vessel, the Reid W. Harris, a tour of the Age and Growth Lab, a virtual educational experience on the beach, a lesson on artificial reefs, reservoirs tactile and more.
“It’s an opportunity to take a field trip but not have to leave your classroom,” Jones said. “There is a lot of interesting work here that we do at CRD to conserve and protect our coast, and normally we try to get that message across to CoastFest in person. But it’s an opportunity for teachers to tune in and let their students ask us questions, interact with our biologists, and learn something new.
Some of the programs also fall within the state’s curriculum standards, Jones said.
CoastFest will feature celebrity hosts this year, including 104.1 FM morning radio host “The Wave” Joe Willie Sousa, Keep Golden Isles Beautiful Executive Director Lea King-Badyna and Georgia Board member Nancy Addison. Resources.
The event is funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and aims to advance CRD’s mission of balancing coastal development while protecting natural assets and recreational resources.
CoastFest presents this important work to young people in the community while allowing them to explore what is happening in their own backyards.
“When we do it in person, there are a lot of kids, believe it or not, who live in this area but have never been to the beach,” Jones said. “So CoastFest might be the first time they’ve ever come close to shrimp, horseshoe crabs or fish and that sort of thing. “
Virtual CoastFest will create opportunities this week for students and community members to explore Georgia’s coastal ecosystem.
“I think the nicest part is seeing the excitement in children’s eyes when they learn something in their backyard, whether it’s a creature from one of our swamps or ‘a fun little fact on the beaches,’ said Burgess. . “These are always very informative, but it’s amazing how many times we have the opportunity to educate not only the children but also the adults who live in the coastal area and who are not aware of the uniqueness and the gems we have here. ”
Live events will be presented online at www.DNRCoastFest.org. Each event will include a live question-and-answer session with CRD staff. Virtual participants will be able to ask questions and interact via YouTube.
Anyone with questions about Virtual CoastFest 2021 can contact Jones at 912-262-3140 or [email protected]