Students lead nature tours

Imagine facing a bush of American beautyberries. The glossy, purple, bundled and tiny berries are available for students to pluck and eat. The beautyberries are found throughout the Florida Gulf Coast University campus such as outside of Edwards Hall, and they are one of many interesting facts students can learn about FGCU after taking a campus tour with a campus naturalist.
Campus naturalists work 10 – 25 hours weekly to guide students and visitors on interactive tours. They present information about FGCU’s ecosystem through guides such as wet walks and nature trails.
Since 2005, Sarah Davis, the University Colloquium coordinator and instructor for campus naturalists, has been the leading campus naturalist. Currently there are nine student naturalists who work with her. Davis welcomes other students to apply to become a naturalist. Requirements are that students need to have completed the University Colloquium course, have an interest in outdoor experiences and natural resources and is pursuing environmental education.
“I have nothing to bring to the table,” Mark Presheur said teasingly about being a history major and a Campus Naturalist.  Before taking the position, Presheur was not sure whether he was qualified for the position. Later, he realized that connecting different majors to the environment is important.
Prescheur and Taylor Hancock have been campus naturalists for a year and a half now, leading seven to 10 trips per semester. Hancock agrees that the major is just part of it.
“I was inside all the time,” Hancock said. “I was into computers. I was into engineering, designing and art, which I am still very interested in, but then I started going outside. I’m like — hey, I love this. Why have I not been doing this my entire life? Now, I’m doing this for a living.”
“My future is pretty foggy,” he added. “I know I’d like to do something with animals, preferably, but I also like what I do now, showing people something new and teaching them something about it.”