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Outdoor Club: Service Learning Opportunity

FSDB Blind High School Outdoor Club members standing in front of the Castillo de San Marcos.

On November 14, 2019, the FSDB Blind High School Outdoor Club participated in a volunteer activity with National Park Service personnel who manage the Castillo de San Marcos. Students learned about historic preservation and the importance of carefully removing the vegetation from between the blocks of coquina.

Students used bristle brushes instead of wire ones to loosen up the vegetation, followed by a light pressure rinse. Although a solution of bleach and water and heavy pressure washing might have done the job faster, it also would have likely damaged the coquina. For those who aren't familiar with coquina, it was a material harvested from underwater quarries on Anastasia Island and hardened upon exposure to the air. It proved to be the best defense of St. Augustine's harbor since the previous wooden versions of the fort had burned down. The walls were constructed up to 14 feet thick, and the porous nature of coquina enabled it to absorb the hit of a cannonball without damage to its structure.

FSDB student participation in this service-learning activity was organized by Edith "DD" Stein, leader of the BHS Outdoor Club with co-leader Kathleen McManus, and coordinated on the National Park Service side by Project Manager James Crutchfield and Education Coordinator Amelia Vela. This opportunity was made possible due to leadership at both institutions signing a memorandum of understanding, to partner and establish community connections. This service-learning activity was created to strengthen Castillo de San Marcos as a site for place-based education and community engagement. It highlights how community partnerships can work together to provide practical, progressive learning experiences while meeting societal needs. It also illustrates how students can have fun while giving back to their community in a meaningful way and earning community service points.

The Castillo de San Marcos has also worked with other community groups such as Flagler's Archeology Club and the First Coast Christian School in Jacksonville. They have additional student volunteer opportunities, such as summer camp counselor positions, beach cleanups, and more.

For more information on any of these opportunities, interested educators should contact FSDB looks forward to these and other opportunities in the future to deepen our community connections.

By Kathleen McManus, Blind High School Outdoor Club


About FSDB

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, or deafblind. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. For a campus tour or to inquire about eligibility for enrollment, contact FSDB Parent Services at 904-827-2212 voice or 904-201-4527 videophone. For more information, visit


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