Take an Eco-Adventure with Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources

RocketKids Article

Pictured: Insect Investigator Kit, one of three options available with a library card. Photo courtesy of Sarasota County Libraries.

In an effort to inspire healthy, green living in a fun and educational manner, Sarasota County Libraries, in partnership with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, is inviting library card holders to embark on exciting eco-friendly adventures with family-fun backpack kits. The partnership began about ten years ago and the new kits are the latest in the series of educational items aimed at teaching the public about healthy and sustainable living. The program is geared toward children in elementary through middle school grades.

Taking part is fun and easy. First, visit your local library and ask for a library card. Next, check out one of the three very cool backpacks. Inside each one, you’ll find a laminated paper with instructions, different gadgets to use for exploration, such as an insect catcher with a built-in magnifier, and some fun and educational books.

Spending time in nature has proven benefits for mental and physical health. However, on average, children spend 50% less time outdoors than they did two decades ago, according to Dr. Katherine Clements, ecology and natural resources educator for Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability. “It is the heart of our mission to create fun and educational opportunities that help make nature more accessible to all while inspiring environmental stewardship,” Clements said.

The backpacks are conveniently available at all Sarasota County libraries in the following options:

• Explore Your World Kit – Crafted to ignite the spirit of exploration and adventure at every age, this kit is a passport to the great outdoors. With a curated selection of books, essential gear and engaging activities, it's a great companion piece for discovering wonders, ranging from a local neighborhood to the wilderness.

• Family Green Living Kit – Allows families to explore sustainability with interactive and eco-friendly fun and learning for all ages. This kit fosters an understanding of conservation and sustainability concepts and encourages environmental stewardship within the household.

• Insect Investigator Kit – Patrons can investigate the incredible world of insects using magnifying tools and other instruments. Learn about different kinds of insects, such as what they eat and how they’ve adapted to survive. Youth who check out this kit will receive a free “Mosquito Detective” pin.

The newest edition, the Insect Investigator Kit, was created by Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension in partnership with Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources and Sarasota County Mosquito Management. It encompasses insect science and promotes healthy living, particularly in a region where certain insects can pose health risks due to their potential to transmit disease.

“Our Modern day library system is about much more than just books,” says Merab-Michal Favorite, marketing coordinator for Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources. “We're really trying to bring in different activities that we know families and children will enjoy. One of our new initiatives is green and healthy living and sustainability so this program fits in perfectly. We are hoping to help children and families to get outside more, exercise and appreciate nature.”

All kits are available to check out for free by community members with a Sarasota County library card. 

Pictured: Insect Investigator Kit, one of three options available with a library card. Photo courtesy of Sarasota County Libraries.

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