Backpack discovery program starts after Labor Day
By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH - This fall, children visiting McKee Botanical Garden will have more things to explore and discover about the garden thanks to a new backpack activity program.
To enhance the learning experience for children, McKee staff has been preparing, developing and testing new curriculum with activities that children can do while they are enjoying the beautiful garden year-round.
Kelly Susino, marketing director, said the backpack program has been trial-tested during the garden's summer program, Camp McKee, with much success. The target ages for the program are children from 5 to 11 years old.
The funding for the program comes from the William Bingham Foundation, said Mary Ruth Foley, director of philanthropy at the garden.
There will be five unique activities for children. Activity packets are given to children in backpacks outfitted to include binoculars, compass and a magnifying glass, among other things, she said.
One of the five activities has been dubbed, "Things With Wings." The curriculum encourages children to explore the garden and search for butterflies and other insects or birds.
"It will be really tailored to how you want to do it," Ms. Foley said.
Depending on the attention span of the child, and the amount of time a parent has to walk around the garden, the activities can be done in depth or a child can simply run around the garden looking through the binoculars, Ms. Foley said.
Ms. Foley said she estimates about 2,000 children came through the garden last year, and she hopes once the program is implemented after Labor Day, even more will want to check it out.
Summer admission fees apply through Oct. 30. Adults are $7; senior adults, $6; children 3-12, $4 and children younger than 3 are free. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
For more information, call (772) 794-0601 or visit www.mckeegarden.org.