Young Friends founding members at Howard Drive Elementary.

In the mid 1990’s, Miami-Dade educators Connie Washburn and Marta Whitehouse set a goal to get students more interested in their surrounding natural environment, most especially the Florida Everglades. One particular year, 1994, the teachers had a special group of highly motivated students. The children became concerned about a project to build a theme park practically in the Everglades, or at least close enough to do severe damage. The students made posters, raised hundreds of Global Relief Walk-A-Thon dollars, and were featured in newspapers, thus, Young Friends of the Everglades was born.

Marta Whitehouse and Connie Washburn, founding teachers with Marjory, age 104

Journalist, author and Everglades defender, Marjory Stoneman Douglas founded Friends of the Everglades in 1969. When the Howard Drive Elementary students wanted to form ‘Young Friends of the Everglades,’ their teachers went to visit Marjory and asked  her what she thought of a children’s organization that would work to protect the Everglades.  Marjory’s answer: “Take the children out to the Glades and let them learn. Education will be the only way to save the Glades. And tell them the Everglades isn’t saved yet!”

That is how ‘Young Friends of the Everglades’ began, with the mission statement: ‘To preserve and protect the Everglades, not just for us but for future generations!’

Today, eighteen years later, the Young Friends of the Everglades outreach program, which teaches environmental awareness, protection of the Everglades and water conservation, has applied for and received a Community Based Environmental Education Grant from Miami-Dade County for the past fourteen years.

Initially the program primarily served fourth graders in a small classroom setting.  Over the years it has expanded to serve middle school, high school and college students. At community festivals we educate all age groups and their parents. Jim McMaster, Young Friends senior educator, has been with the program for fourteen years. He is looking forward to getting back into the classroom this fall, 2012.

Young Friends Community Outreach Program

Young Friends has completed fourteen years of Everglades/Water Conservation Programs, educating over 100,000 students and adults in Everglades National Park, classroom settings, scout meetings, Earth Day events and other environmental gatherings.

Teachers, parents, scout leaders and students, Young Friends of the Everglades will give an Everglades/Water Conservation Program to your group. There is absolutely no cost for the program. Groups must be based in Miami-Dade County as we are sponsored by a Community Based Grant.

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Categories Summer 2012 - Newsletter | Tags: | Published in August, 2012 |

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