Flagler County, FL – Experts agree a person can only survive about 3 days without water, and in the Florida heat, that time period can be even shorter.
Providing young students with the necessary tools to tackle challenging situations, Huckleberry Farms Equestrian Center hosted the first of five lessons on survival skills Friday.
Sharing the hazards of drinking dirty water, eyes were wide as illnesses like giardia, cryptosporidium, salmonella, hepatitis A, typhoid, dysentery and cholera were mentioned, and quickly captured the attention of the enthusiastic learners.
Nearly a dozen students of all ages watched attentively as instructor Morgan Fambrough demonstrated the process for purifying water through various methods including the use of a LifeStraw personal water filtration system, boiling water and a discussion on how to safely use chlorine tablets to purify water.
“Today I’m focusing on water purification and how to remove your bacteria, viruses and protozoa from the water, and to be able to sustainably find water,” said Fambrough.
Parents like Leslie Myjak, whose children Ajay and Bethany have been weekly participants in the “Out School” program that began in the fall of 2020, say it’s a way to introduce new topics to their children while experiencing a hands on school lesson.
“I do believe it’s very important for them to know how to survive out here in the Florida wilderness,” she said with a chuckle. “Even if they travel outside of the United States, clean water isn’t always available. I can say that my son Ajay is excited about foraging – he cannot wait to eat insects.”
Bethany also interns at the farm, learning other valuable skills like equestrian care, record keeping and management, and tracking supplies and inventory according to Huckleberry Farm’s co-owner Heather Beaven.
Through a partnership with the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation the farm has approximately 20 students interning, each earning $10/hr. while learning new skills, as part of the work-based learning program, now in its second year.
“It’s work-based learning experience, but we refer to it as an internship,” explained Beaven. “It’s 14-21 year olds, including homeschool, and they have to have a diagnosed disability – that can be a 504 Plan or IEP or a medical diagnosis. They spend about 40 hours here during their internship, and they learn how to work the farm. Right now we’re focused on animals, and Bethany is learning about how to run a barn.”
For Bethany, it’s a fun way to spend time with the horses and expand her knowledge.
“I like mostly taking out the horses and getting to know them really well,” she said happily.
Next week’s “Out School” program will focus on building shelter and other survival basics.
“The rest of the time we’ll be focusing on forage and food, navigation, fire safety and shelter, and it’s to be able to, if you’re ever caught in a situation where let’s say you’re down here and your boat stalls out, and you have to stay out overnight or you get lost in the Haw Creek Preserve, what do you do, how do you survive,” said Fambrough.
Beaven said with the addition of Fambrough to the facility, it was the right time to add to the curriculum.
“Morgan has recently joined the farm and she’s a survivalist trainer, so we thought it was the perfect time to go play in the woods. March is a good dry season, low bugs, low heat, the perfect month to learn how to survive being lost,” said Beaven.