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It was a lesson in the three "R's" _ Reduce, Reuse, Recycle _ for the youngsters at Moon Lake Elementary School.

For such kids as Josefina Lopez, that meant being part of the act _ donning a sweat shirt covered in plastic six-pack holders _ a danger to such birds as the great heron that after getting them wrapped around their long beaks often end up starving.

Students in grades three through five learned the importance of caring for the environment and the perils of carelessly discarding refuse such as plastic shopping bags that sea turtles sometimes mistake for jellyfish and plastic foam that poses a choking threat to other wildlife.

Younger students were treated to a puppet show and educational presentation called River Connections that focused on the plants and animals that live in the river habitat.

The interactive presentation at Moon Lake was part of a the Florida Aquarium's outreach education program. Throughout September, the program, sponsored by grants from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, was offered free to schools that applied.

"This is great for our kids," assistant principal Ken Meisner said. "The aquarium is so far away for a lot of our students. It helps expose our students to a lot more of what's out there."

NOTE: For information on the Florida Aquarium offsite programs call (813) 273-4015 or go to