Fifth graders from Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida have been visiting the Tallahassee Museum for the last 15 years. This year, they were looking for a community service project that connected to their curriculum. The 132 students decided to do something special to help the Museum’s animals when they came up for their annual trip to the Capital City in early February.
“Due to the students’ generosity, we have been able to purchase two new enrichment toys valued at nearly $500 for the Museum’s larger animals. The students are also giving a $175 donation to the Museum,” said Diane Winograd, Fifth Grade Teacher at Lake Highland Preparatory School as the students presented the items to the Museum’s animal department.
The students chose to purchase a semi-circle mirror toy and an oblong stone. The mirror aims to keep larger animals, such as cougars, bears and bobcats enticed and curious about their reflection. The more the animals touch and turn the mirror the more interested they become.
“We are always looking for new items to introduce into the animal habitats, so they can play and explore. Enrichment of this kind is very important, as it keeps our animals using their same natural behaviors they would use in the wild,” said Natasha Hartsfield, Vice-President of Programs for the Tallahassee Museum.
The Museum’s Florida Panther was the first animal to try out the new oblong stone toy. He was immediately attracted to its unusual shape and spent several hours playing, charging at it and kicking it around his habitat.
“We are delighted that the students felt compelled to make these generous philanthropic gifts and to think of the needs of the Museum’s native wildlife at such a young age. This thoughtfulness is wonderful for the Museum and representative of the values instilled by their community,” said Katherine Cline Ashler, Vice-President of Philanthropy for the Tallahassee Museum.
After presenting the Museum with the gifts, the students experienced a guided tour along the Museum’s Florida Wildlife Trail.
“We have always enjoyed our visit to the Tallahassee Museum, and we look forward to returning for many years to come,” said Winograd.