Virtual Junior Ranger

Junior Rangers are special people who are dedicated to their National Parks. Their mission is to explore, learn, and protect, and to have fun while doing it!

While you can earn your Junior Ranger badge on your visit to Fort Matanzas National Monument, we have also put together an opportunity for you to become a Fort Matanzas National Monument Virtual Ranger.

Using the pages of our website, you can complete the quiz below to earn your Virtual Ranger badge! When you finish, download and print your badge to add to your collection!

To reveal the answers below, slide over the question when you are ready.

 

HOW MANY YEARS DID IT TAKE TO BUILD FORT MATANZAS?

text on white background reading how many years did it take to build Fort Matanzas? text on white background reading how many years did it take to build Fort Matanzas?

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Question: How many years did it take to build Fort Matanzas?

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Answer: Slide to reveal

The Matanzas inlet is an important access point to St. Augustine. Although it is too shallow for large ships, an enemy force could use small boats to enter through this “back door” and travel up the Matanzas River to attack the town. The Spanish knew this could be a problem, so they built a wooden watchtower at the inlet as early as 1569. What do you think duty here was like?

In Florida’s warm, wet climate, wooden buildings did not last very long. The early watchtowers had to be rebuilt or replaced several times. Finally, after the British siege of 1740, the Spanish realized they needed something stronger and more permanent at the Matanzas inlet, and they started building the current watchtower out of the local coquina stone. Why would a stone tower be better than a wooden one?

How many years did it take to build Fort Matanzas? Here is a hint!

 

ARE THE FORT MATANZAS OFFICER'S LOGS A PRIMARY OR SECONDARY SOURCE?

live oak trees fading to black with answer primary live oak trees fading to black with answer primary

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Answer: Slide to reveal

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Question: Are the Fort Matanzas officer's logs a primary or secondary source?

What’s your favorite way to learn about the past? To learn about history, we can use a primary source, like a photograph, or secondary source, like Wikipedia. Fort Matanzas is a great example of a primary source, first-hand evidence left behind by the Spanish. By visiting, you can see what the fort was built from, how many levels there are, what views the soldiers had up and down the river, and more. From researching the officer's logs, we also know they saved many shipwreck victims, patrolled the area, and fired their cannons on the enemy.  

Are the Fort Matanzas officer's logs a primary or secondary source? Here’s a hint! 

 

IN 1794, AT WHOM DID THE FORT FIRE ITS CANNONS?

text on white background reading in 1794, at whom did the fort fire its cannons? text on white background reading in 1794, at whom did the fort fire its cannons?

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Question: In 1794, at whom did the fort fire its cannons?

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Answer: Slide to reveal

The British were aware of the construction of Fort Matanzas. On July 21, 1741, they moved in to attack. They found the Spanish had ships, armed with cannons, watching, waiting, and guarding the construction crews. The ships chased each other and opened fire. The construction on the watchtower was saved. A little over a year later, the British tried again. This time, cannon fire came not from a ship, but the fort itself. The fort’s cannons would protect the area for years to come. What would you do to protect your home?

In 1794, at whom did the fort fire its cannons? Here’s a hint! 

 

 

WHEN DID THE BRITISH TAKE OVER FORT MATANZAS?

live oak trees fading to black with answer 1763 live oak trees fading to black with answer 1763

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Answer: Slide to reveal

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Question: When did the British take over Fort Matanzas?

The Spanish were not the only ones to station soldiers at Fort Matanzas. At the end of the French & Indian War, the Spanish gave all of Florida to the British in order to get back Cuba and the Philippines, which were much more valuable colonies. What would you be willing to trade for something important to you?

The British usually manned Fort Matanzas with 8-10 men. Their duties were probably very similar to those of the Spanish soldiers who came before them: drilling with their weapons, hunting and fishing for food, making repairs to the fort, and watching the ocean and the inlet for enemy ships. Do you think you would enjoy being stationed at Fort Matanzas? It was isolated duty, and the soldiers spent weeks at a time away from home.  

When did the British take over Fort Matanzas? Here is a hint!  

 

WHICH PRESIDENT NAMED FORT MATANZAS A NATIONAL MONUMENT?

text on white background reading Which President named Fort Matanzas a National Monument? text on white background reading Which President named Fort Matanzas a National Monument?

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Question: Which President named Fort Matanzas a National Monument?

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Answer: Slide to reveal

How have you tried to save something special or important in your life? Prior to modern times, the U.S. War Department began to show some interest in the Matanzas tower after nearly four decades of neglect. A suggestion was made to Congress in 1890 to fix what was left of the ruins. Statements to Congress included, “Although it was of no defensive value, the fort was an exceedingly interesting and picturesque relic of the Spanish regime and as such was visited by tourists.”

Other major restoration projects have been finished over the years:

  • Gun platform was rebuilt in 1924
  • Sentry Tower was rebuilt in 1929
  • A seawall was added in 1936 
  • The tower arch was rebuilt in 1916 and again in 1938

In what ways could you help preserve and protect your community? 

Which President named Fort Matanzas a National Monument?  Here is a hint! 

 

 

WHAT ENDANGERED ANIMAL LIVES IN OUR BEACH DUNES?

live oak trees fading to black with answer Anastasia Beach Mouse live oak trees fading to black with answer Anastasia Beach Mouse

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Answer: Slide to reveal

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Question: What endangered animal lives in our beach dunes?

How would you describe your community? The 300 acres of Fort Matanzas National Monument is a mosaic of natural habitats. Working together, the maritime forest, dunes, scrub, and salt marsh ecosystems can provide food and shelter for a variety of plants and animals. An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the non-living parts of their environment, interacting as a system.

When you think of a day at the beach, what do you imagine? In science, a beach ecosystem is a border between the ocean and the land with sandy or rocky soil. The non-living things, or abiotic factors, include the sunlight, water, wind, temperature, soil, and sand. The living organisms, or biotic factors, are the plants and animals. Beaches are home to birds, grasses, crabs, clams, fish, tiny invertebrates, and more. This habitat is impacted by humans as they build homes, travel, vacation, and more. We like to enjoy the beach, but the beach needs us. How can we protect it?

What endangered animal lives in our beach dunes?  Here is a hint! 

 

TRUE OR FALSE: AUFWUCHS ARE COMMUNITIES OF ALGAE, BACTERIA, PROTOZOA, AND TINY ANIMALS THAT LIVE ON SALT MARSH PLANTS

text on white background reading True or false, “aufwuchs” are communities of algae, bacteria, protozoa, and tiny animals that live on salt marsh plants. text on white background reading True or false, “aufwuchs” are communities of algae, bacteria, protozoa, and tiny animals that live on salt marsh plants.

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Question: True or false, “aufwuchs” are communities of algae, bacteria, protozoa, and tiny animals that live on salt marsh plants.

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Answer: Slide to reveal

Think of all the ways water is important to you. The Matanzas River by the fort is known as an estuary, a place where freshwater meets and mixes with saltwater. The swampy area surrounding it is called a salt marsh. Both the estuary and salt marsh are affected by the tides and serve as a nursery for many young fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. This habitat also acts like an enormous filter. As water flows through, the marsh plants filter pollution out of the water.

Most marsh plants die and fall to the marsh floor where they break down and create waste that is eaten by worms, fish, shrimp, crabs, fungi, and bacteria. Lots of seafood that people love to eat rely on salt marshes when they are young and would not survive to adulthood without them. By day, snowy egrets, osprey, eagles, and pelicans feed on the plentiful fish. At night, raccoons, owls, and night herons hunt. In morning, marsh rabbits nibble on young plants. There is always action around the salt marsh. How do you benefit from your environment?

True or false: “aufwuchs” are communities of algae, bacteria, protozoa, and tiny animals that live on salt marsh plants. Here is a hint! 

 

 

WHAT LAND ANIMAL IS THE MANATEE'S CLOSEST RELATIVE?

live oak trees fading to black with answer elephant live oak trees fading to black with answer elephant

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Answer: Slide to reveal

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Question: What land animal is the manatee’s closest relative?

What do you admire about your favorite animal? Fort Matanzas is home to coastal creatures, birds, amphibians, crustaceans, fish, insects, spiders, reptiles, mollusks, and mammals. Each creature is special in its own way. There are at least 27 species of mammals in the park. Regularly spotted are racoons, opossums, deer, and marsh rabbits. There are the animals that call the area home but are rarely seen, like the bobcat, red fox, or coyote. Rangers have seen their scat, tracks, and impact on smaller prey, like the least terns. There are also the smaller and quieter creatures, like the Anastasia Beach Mouse, that few will see, yet they live in the dunes right next to our beach chairs and umbrellas.

You may have an easier time spotting a dolphin or manatee. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a Northern Right Whale! These big marine mammals rely on the ocean for survival, they breathe air, nurse their young, and have hair. Dolphins and whales use echolocation by bouncing high-pitched clicking sounds off underwater objects, while manatees produce squeaks and chirps. All three are vulnerable creatures. The Northern Right Whale comes to the north Florida coast to give birth during the winter months. Due to overhunting, they are close to extinction with only 300 left in the wild. Dolphins are susceptible to entanglement from commercial fishing gear. Manatees are vulnerable to boat propellers, since they rest submerged just below the surface. Why should we care what happens to mammals? How can you protect wildlife?

What land animal is the manatee’s closest relative?  Here is a hint! 

 
A black and white badge reading Virtual Ranger Fort Matanzas National Monument

Congratulations!

You have completed the activites to become an official Virtual Ranger at Fort Matanzas National Monument! All that's left is to read the Junior Ranger Pledge:

"As a Junior Ranger, I promise to explore our National Parks, protect these important places, and share with others what I learn about our nation's heritage."

Right-click on the badge image and save it to your computer or device. You can even print it, color it, and have someone help you cut it out and make a pin!

Last updated: April 28, 2020

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