Outdoor Chapel & Classroom
This outdoor classroom hosts our new Marine Science Program that students of all grades participate in. It is also home to the Brevard County's River Kidz Program. Continue reading below to learn more.
Outdoor Classroom and Marine Biology Program
For decades St. Mark's has taught its students to cherish the lagoon through shoreline classes and nature walks. More recently, with an understanding that the lagoon is the most biologically diverse estuary in the continental US (4000 species of plants and animals…700 species of fish, 300 species of birds, and 1300 species of plants), St. Mark's began teaching students to be good stewards of the lagoon; St. Mark's students have raised oyster gardens for almost 10 years. In 2019, generous donations from parishioners enabled us to build an outdoor chapel and classroom that extends as a covered pier into the lagoon. In 2021 the annual fundraiser provided St. Mark's with the scientific tools to study water quality: underwater cameras, and sensors to measure salinity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature. Today our STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) Program emphasizes marine sciences looking at four main areas: water quality, marine debris, animal species, and seagrass. But we also engage our students with the lagoon in other ways:
In partnership with the Brevard Zoo’s Restore Our Shores Program, students have started planting and tending red and black mangroves and grasses along our shoreline. They also tend a stand of mature mangroves. Mangrove roots provide an environment that is home to fish, turtles, frogs, sponges, barnacles, shrimp, crabs and spiny lobster! Our shoreline is also home to birds of prey like osprey and wading birds like herons. Manatees and dolphins visit frequently. Our campus is a living laboratory for habitat and ecological studies.
We organize kayaking adventures.
We have begun participating with RiverKidz (link) to help children understand civics and advocacy and community stewardship of public spaces. *Click the button below to learn more about the RIVER KIDZ Program
And sometimes it is just fun to read poetry or have lunch out there, with the salty air, the sound of the water, the beautiful clouds, and an abundance of life.
Looking forward, we have ambitious plans to partner with more organizations in the community from the Wildlife Hospital to the scientists, engineers, and economists who have led the charge in restoring the health and vitality of the Indian River Lagoon. St. Mark's chapel and outdoor classroom on the Indian River give students a unique opportunity to learn about marine science, environmental stewardship, and community.