Lakeland, Florida -- The Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland received a helping hand from a bunch of fifth graders at Southwest Middle School.

They and their teachers are part of the FLEET team (Florida Environmental Education Team), the group have done everything from planting trees to lake cleanups.

The students planted bushes, shrubs and trees that are native to Florida.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) awarded the grant to Southwest Middle School in Polk County.The grant paid for bus and substitutes for the three teachers and their classes.

Below is a media release from Polk County schools about the FLEET team at Southwest Middle:

Southwest Middle School Educators Recognized Nationwide as the 2012 Teams That Make a Difference Award WinnerSouthwest Middle School's Florida Environmental Education Team (FLEET) is being recognized as the winner of the 2012 Teams That Make a Difference award. The group made up of educators Debra Porter, Karen Horsting, Paul Peterson and Tabitha Biehl, biologist and stewardship coordinator for Polk County's Environmental Lands Program, joined forces to help students gain an appreciation and understanding of the environment.

Each year the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE), a national education association, and Pearson, a global education company, honor an outstanding team that works together to improve the education and well-being of young adolescents. The teams from around the country are made up of teachers, parents, community members, administrators, or any combination of individuals.

Students benefit from the higher level thinking in this multi-faceted program that keeps them actively engaged. The FLEET program connects students to real-world situations and opens their eyes to the diversity of nature and the potential issues that occur if communities do not attend to the environment. The six curriculum sections cover an introduction to Florida's environment, watersheds, meteorology, wetlands, geology, and uplands. Student activities during the year include: hands-on experiments with a groundwater flow model, a lake clean-up project and an opportunity to hear talks from wildlife experts on topics such as gopher tortoise relocation.

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