Charter High, other students to dig into sand near ‘Vero Man’ site

VERO BEACH — Students at Indian River Charter High and throughout the county will have the opportunity to sift through the sands of time – literally – all the while learning about the area’s history.

A dump truck-load of sand excavated from an area near, but not at, the Historic Vero Man site off 26th Street arrived this week at the charter school. The site is where two sets of ancient human remains were found alongside remains of long extinct large mammals, including a mastodon and a saber-toothed cat.

The mound of sand holds untold secrets that the students, during a series of weekend workshops could discern.

“I’m a scientist,” said Charter High teacher and coordinator Rose Gaines of what she expects they’ll find in the sand. “I don’t make predictions.”

When pushed, the teacher said that she would hazard an educated guess that the students could find shells, seeds, fragments of small animal bone and possibly evidence of humans.

“We’ve got the tools to give it a good look,” she said of the tiny pieces of history they might unearth, explaining that the school received a grant from the Toyota Foundation to purchase a dissecting scope – a microscope for seeing opaque items up close. “Even a shard of glass can be interesting.”

“This is a training ground,” Gaines said, looking over the heap of sand taken from a drainage canal in the area of the historic site. She emphasized that the sand did not come directly from the Vero Man location.

Gaines plans to offer weekend workshops to about 20 or so people, including students and adults, after the first of the year. She is still working on the logistics of supervision and the course material.

“It was just a coming together,” Gaines said of working with the Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee to secure the sand from the City of Vero Beach.

The committee, a sub-group of the Cultural Council of Indian River County, has been working to get funds for a proper excavation of the site. In the meantime, it is helping to fund the crafting of screening tools the students and volunteers will use to sift the sand and find what remains.

Gaines said that none of this could be happening if not for the support of the Indian River Charter School’s governing board, which encourages curricula freedom and flexibility.

Gaines said she’ll be able to tie the project into her next lesson plan – the Renaissance, with Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci had conducted analysis of fossils, which is what Gaines will use.

Anyone interested in learning more about the project or volunteering to work the site can either call Rose Gaines at (772) 567-6600 ext. 222  or e-mail

Those interested in making financial donations for the excavation of the Old Vero Ice Age site can do so through the Cultural Council by visiting

Those interested in contributing to Indian River Charter High’s education efforts can contact the school by calling (772) 567-6600.

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