Treasure Coast Education
For nearly four decades, Jensen Beach’s Environmental
Studies Center has been a one-day learning lab for
generations of Martin County students
STORY AND PHOTOS BY GREG GARDNER
A school just for field trips? That’s what the
Environmental Studies Center in Jensen Beach
has been to Martin County students for the
past 37 years. Since its opening, generations of
schoolchildren have walked through its doors to
learn more about the Indian River Lagoon and other South
While the center has several aquariums with a variety of
fish, the students always spend part of their ultimate field
trip at the beach or on the Indian River. The various sights,
sounds and smells generate plenty of oohs and aahs during
the day as the children get up close with an alligator,
turtles, fish and, if they’re lucky, gopher tortoises that nest
on the property.
“This should be typical of all education processes so kids
can get hands-on lessons in math, science and art,” says V.
James Navitsky, Martin County school superintendent for 21
years and a strong ESC supporter. “It’s been outstanding for
Anne Taylor explains the drawing assignment to her Pinewood Elementary first-graders as Environmental Studies Center coordinator Diane Pierce looks
on. Small groups rotate through four completely different teaching approaches to environmental lessons as they learn about manatees.