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How to Help

At RHEC we love donations! Thank you in advance for any donations you would like to provide!

Monetary donations


Gift cards to:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Lowes
  • Home Depot
  • Sam’s
  • Any pet stores
  • Grocery stores 


Food for animals: 

  • Wild birdseed
  • Black oil sunflower seed
  • Suet cakes
  • Turtle food
  • Greens (Kale, Collard, Mustard, Turnip)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries



  • Reptile bedding
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bleach
  • Lysol/Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
  • Paper Towels
  • Copy paper
  • Light Bulbs (60 watt and reptile bulbs)

Contact Us


1300 Tobias Road
Cantonment, FL 32533

Tel & Fax: (850) 937-2117



Molly O'Connor

Teacher on Special Assignment


Adam Bretschneider

Teacher on Special Assignment



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Roy Hyatt Environmental Center (RHEC)

Check Out the New Building Design!
Check Out the New Building Design!

Remembering the Past! Making Way for the Future!

Above is the design for the new building.  Below is a photograph of the old building.  We will miss that old building!  It served the Escambia County School District well for thirty-five years helping to educate 150,00 to 200,000  students and adults.  As much as we will miss that old building we are very excited for the January 2018 construction to begin.  This amazing building, designed by Dalrymple Sallis Architectural Firm, will be just what we need to continue to grow and provide quality Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics curriculum in a hands-on environment.

RHEC building.jpg
Barn Owl Visiting RHEC

Whooo Goes There?

Did you know that there are over 200 species of owls in the world?  Did you also know that owls are found on every continent except Antarctica?  WOW!  They must have some incredible adaptations!

There are six species that call Florida home, and four call Northwest Florida home.  There are four more that will occasionally stop by the state for a visit.  The four residents are the Eastern Screech Owl, the Barred Owl, the Barn Owl, and the Great Horned Owl.  Elsewhere in Florida you can find the Burrowing Owl and the Short-eared Owl.  Four occasional visitors to Florida are the Snowy Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Long-eared Owl, and the Flammulated Owl.

Owls eat a variety of things.  Different types of owls prefer different types of prey.  The list of prey items include rodents, insects, spiders, snails, snakes, small birds, fish, lizards, and amphibians.  What a smorgasbord!  We love owls because they eat so many creature we do not want in and around our house - Thank you owls!

Owls are mainly nocturnal which means they are active at night, although some are crepuscular which means they are active at dawn and dusk.  You can tell when an owl hunts by the color of its eyes.  Owls with yellow eyes hunt during the day or at dusk and dawn, owls with dark eyes hunt during the night, owls with orange eyes hunt at dusk or dawn.  Owls have a variety of adaptations to be effective nighttime hunters.  They have excellent vision, an amazing ability to hear, and their feathers are built so that they make virtually no noise when they fly, all of which helps them to catch their prey and avoid predators.  Owls are made for being out at night! 

When I think of owls, the first thing I think of are their eyes!  They have huge eyes for the size of their head.  Their eyes are so big that the muscles that would normally move the eye are not strong enough to move them.  So rather than having googly eyes like us (we can move our eyes all around) their eyes are fixed looking straight out in front of them all the time.  In order to look up, down, or side to side they must move their head.  Because of this they have a special adaptation, two extra vertebrae which allow them to turn their head farther around than we can.  We can turn our heads 180 degrees while they can turn theirs 270 degrees.  Wow!  That is amazing!  Their eyes also face forward giving them binocular vision, which help them to figure out how far away their predator or prey might be.  Owls see about equal to us in the day time (which is pretty good), but they see about eight times better at night than we see in the daytime.  Because they are nocturnal their pupils are larger than many animals.  Just like us their pupils contract and dilate with the amount of light.  In the direct sun, pupils will contract, getting smaller so as not to let too much light in and damage the eye.  In the dark, pupils dilate allowing more light in so we can see better in the dark.  Owls’ large pupils allow more light to enter which gives them their night vision. 

Owls do not use their eyes just to hunt, but also their hearing.  They hear extremely well.  Partially due to the location of their ears.  Our ears are pretty even out either side of our head.  Most owls’ ears are not, they have one that sits up high while the other, on the other side of the head, is down low facing a slightly different direction and of slightly different size.  This allows them to have almost stereo hearing, being able to determine exactly where a sound comes from with very little movement of the head.  Sometimes you might see an owl doing a funny head bobbing thing, they are triangulating – figuring out the exact location of a sound.  The feathers on an owl’s face also help them to hear.  They are either shaped like one big satellite disk or two small ones, funneling sound into the owl’s ear.  The feather tufts that some owls have are not ears at all, just feather tufts situated on top of their heads.  Owls hear so well that they can hear a rodent’s heart beating from about thirty feet away or even hear a rodent hiding under a foot or more of snow!

Owls have silent flight.  All other birds make a noise when they flap their wings.  But the very edge of the owls’ flight feathers are frayed, like a comb, which muffles the sound giving the owl that silent flight.  This feature allows them to fly just inches away from their prey without ever being heard!

Owls do not have a sense of smell, so they cannot smell their prey.  Almost all birds of prey have no sense of smell, with the exception of the Turkey Vulture.  The Turkey Vulture has developed a sense of smell, which helps them to locate dead carcasses, their food of choice. 

Owls and other birds of prey have special claws on their feet called talons.  Owls’ talons are special, they are zygodactyl – meaning they have four toes.  When they are flying, three of their toes face forward and one faces backward, but when they are perched on a tree or going in to capture and grasp their prey the outer front toe swivels backward so two toes face forward and two face backward allowing for a better grip.  They also have the ability to lock their toes around their prey keeping them from having to continually contract the muscles in their feet giving them amazing grip with little effort. 

Owls eat their entire prey, either engulfing it whole or eating it in large pieces.  This includes the fur, teeth, bone, and feathers.  They are unable to digest these items so while in the gizzard the parts that are edible are sent down the digestive tract and the un-digestible parts are packed into a pellet which the owl regurgitates and spits out.  It you were to dissect an owl pellet you could look at the bones and identify what type of creature the owl has been eating.  So cool!

Not all owls say “Whoo.”  And like many other creatures, they make a variety of sounds depending on what they are doing.  This could be talking with each other, disciplining their young, or telling others this is my territory.

To find out more about our local owls and the sounds they make head to these sites:

Eastern Screech Owl:

Barred Owl:

Barn Owl:

Great Horned Owl:

If you would like to attract these magnificent birds to your yard/neighborhood you can read ideas on how to do this in the following article:

So, as you can see, owls are amazing creatures.  They have so many fantastic adaptations to allow them to be the majestic creatures we observe.  Head outside tonight and listen for these amazing creatures in your area.

Our Mission

The mission of the Roy Hyatt Environmental Center is to assist students in mastering science concepts and processes through the integration of science disciplines in studying the environment.  Our goal, from the Florida Environmental Education Act, is that the students "come to know the natural world as a complex system that must be cared for."  As we carry out our mission and work toward this goal, we also further the strategic aims of the School District of Escambia County, Florida, which are the following (1) highest student achievement (2) a safe learning and working environment (3) a high performing work force, and (4) an efficient and effective system.  Find out more about the School District of Escambia County at

Bobcat Visiting A Trail at RHEC!

Pictures From RHEC!

About RHEC

In 1968, the first Environmental Center to later be named in honor of Roy Hyatt opened to students in Escambia County, Florida.  In 1980, land at the present site on Tobias Road was acquired from the federal government.  The main building houses a microscope lab, reptile room, large classroom, and office space.  Other buildings used in current instructional programs include the old library which has been transformed into a classroom, the bird bus used for bird watching activities, the butterfly gazebo, and the newly completed outdoor education classroom.  The instructional program for the 2014-2015 school year includes field trips and curriculum appropriate for 2nd and 5th grade student field trips.

Currently the RHEC is opened from August through June according to the academic calendar of the School District of Escambia County, Florida.  During those months it is opened Monday through Friday for educational field trips by appointment only.  RHEC is not open to the public.