Twelve students and associate professor of art Barbara Giorgio-Booher will join associate professor of Biology Tom McConnell in Florida Saturday to begin studying marine wildlife. 

Yet, none of them are biology majors.

These students will travel to the cities of Crystal River, Homosassa and Sarasota, Florida, to study manatees, seahorses and sea turtles for the next three books — one for each animal — in the series “Conservation Tales.” 

“Conservation Tales” is a series of children’s books that tell fictional stories about an animal. The stories also provide a way to help children understand how they can protect the environment.Four books in the series have already been published. 

McConnell said they will stay at Crystal River Plantation and visit Homosassa State Park and Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota. 

“This is the first semester we’ve had [elementary education] majors and a photography major,” McConnell said. “But we’re hoping they’ll be able to do the same thing with the books they will be involved in.”

Elementary education major Rebecca Tripp said she is involved in the project mostly to help make sure the book is understandable for children, but she is excited to learn about animals with the research scientists. 

“I am really passionate about animal conservation and to go there and see what they do and how they do it is really exciting,” Tripp said. 

Along with elementary education and photography, visual communications and animation majors will venture to the sunshine state, too. 

“They mainly pulled me in as a secondary graphic design insight, and also for my marketing [minor],” senior Kendra Schemmel said. “They really liked that part because they didn’t have anybody in the marketing place, so since it’s like a new thing and it’s starting to grow, they wanted to learn how to target their audience better.” 

Schemmel also said she was really excited to swim with the manatees. 

“We’re swimming with the manatees, so I think that itself is gonna be interesting because even though I’ve been to Florida before, I’ve never seen the animals under the water,” she said. 

McConnell said “Conservation Tales” has a Facebook page, where members will post some pictures from their trip, along with previews of art that will publish in their books. 

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