Virtual Field Trips Keep Broward Students And Seniors Learning During Pandemic

August 27, 2020
Tina Cortez at the Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital leads a virtual field trip to continue the center's educational mission during the pandemic.

A hairy tarantula crawls by, bringing an eight-legged dose of excitement to distance learning.

And an adorable baby raccoon, waiting to be bottle fed, makes you want to reach through your computer screen to help.

New virtual visits are allowing students, seniors and other Broward residents to go online during the pandemic for informative and entertaining animal experiences at the Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital.

Last spring, when the coronavirus temporarily stopped in-person visits, the nature center and wildlife hospital tapped into technology to continue its educational mission.

Taylor Bertolini at the Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital helps create an educational animal video to increase outreach during the pandemic.

The gift shop was transformed into a video studio to produce educational wildlife videos to post online and spread through social media. Then the animal experts began collaborating with schools to provide virtual field trips.

More virtual field trips are planned for the new school year. And now senior centers are participating in these virtual outings to help older residents learn more about animals.

“The students responded so well to the online platform and were excited to experience something special during this uncertain time, that we decided to add the virtual option to our regular programming,” said Robin Reccasina, Executive Director, Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital. “The virtual option will also expand the reach of our programming to (others) that could not otherwise visit our site.”

These virtual animal experiences are an example of how local nonprofits are pivoting to deliver more innovative, online services during the pandemic – thanks to support from Fundholders at the Community Foundation of Broward.

In response to the coronavirus crisis, the Community Foundation has modified existing grants to free up support to help nonprofits adapt their services to meet the needs of our changing times.

In addition to grant flexibility, the Community Foundation has deployed emergency grants, forged new collaborations and sped up endowment distributions to provide more than $3 million in immediate local support during the pandemic. Fundholders with endowed charitable Funds at the Community Foundation make it possible to provide this infusion of resources, just when Broward needs it most.

More flexible, sustained support for nonprofits that provide valuable community services will be key to Broward’s recovery from this health and economic crisis. Because just as Broward’s nonprofits innovate and adapt to help our community face the pandemic, cancelled fundraisers and a drop in anticipated donations threaten their ability to continue.

With more support from visionary philanthropists who tap into the power of endowment, the Community Foundation will be there to tackle Broward biggest challenges – during this crisis and beyond.

Support for the Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital came from the following Funds at the Community Foundation of Broward:

  • David W. Leonard Fund
  • Helen and Frank Stoykov Charitable Endowment Fund
  • Patricia A. Shub Fund for Companion Animal Benefit
  • Mary and Alex Mackenzie Community Impact Fund

Click here to see a video about how the Community Foundation helps Broward residents face the coronavirus crisis.

Learn More

To learn how your philanthropy can shape a brighter future for Broward, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at or 954-761-9503.

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