Lifespan Montessori of Athens: All about gopher tortoises!

EcoReach members, Zach, Carol, and Ashley all take turns explaining different facts about gopher tortoises. Here Carol is talking to students about the gopher tortoises’ habitat, the longleaf pine.

Last Friday, members of EcoReach visited the Lifespan Montessori preschool to lead a program about Georgia’s native wildlife.

They chose to focus on the charismatic gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). Students, ages 3-6 years, were introduced to gopher tortoises, their habitat, what they eat, and all the friends they have in the longleaf pine ecosystem who rely on their burrows for shelter.

Each student was assigned a card with a picture of a species native to Georgia and asked to find their safe spot; a wetland, a forest, or a burrow. Students hopped to the wetland, flew and pranced to the forest, and crawled or slithered their way through a cardboard burrow where they joined their burrow buddy, the gopher tortoise.

Through this activity students learned the importance of habitat and that in some cases, organisms will rely on one another for survival. Check out the photos below and learn more about gopher tortoises and the role they play as a keystone species in the longleaf pine ecosystem here!

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