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Your Moment of Everglades Zen: We biked 15 miles in Shark Valley

In the heart of the Everglades, the sawgrass sways for endless miles. Water from the north slowly winds through Shark Valley Slough, where it eventually drains into Florida Bay. Visitors from all around the world convene to catch a glimpse of the Everglades’ most famous keystone species: the American alligator. At Shark Valley, one of five visitor centers in Everglades National Park, there are two fun ways to travel along a 15-mile loop: by bike or tram. Friends of the Everglades Multimedia Producer Leah Voss recently chose the more challenging option — a bicycle ride that brought her up close and personal with different habitats [...]

2024-06-03T16:46:44-04:00June 4th, 2024|All Posts, Everglades Zen, Marjory's Circle|

Your Moment of Everglades Zen: Enliven your senses, quiet your mind

When was the last time you stepped into the cypress forest, leaving your worries and your phone at the threshold, and tapped into all of your senses?  For some Marjory’s Circle members and Friends of the Everglades staff, this slow and mindful shared experience kicked off Easter weekend Saturday morning at Riverbend Park in Jupiter.  Following forest therapy guide Kelly Bruce, the group learned how to “forest bathe” under gently swaying native Florida trees, along a meadow of wildflowers where butterflies danced, and next to a lively cypress pond brimming with life. Forest bathing, Bruce explained, offers numerous health benefits, including better sleep and immunity, and [...]

2024-05-30T11:42:03-04:00April 2nd, 2024|All Posts, Everglades Zen, Marjory's Circle|

Your moment of Everglades Zen: “Creatures of Mud and Starlight”

Photo by Anthony Sleiman. Autumn Bryan You've probably heard us sing the praises of our first-ever Karen Mashburn Environmental Scholar recipient, Autumn Bryan. During her time as a Friends of the Everglades intern, Autumn provided invaluable contributions to our Young Friends program, which included her leadership in the launch of our new Library Learning Kits. The Library Learning Kits, available in Martin, Palm Beach, and Broward County libraries, include Marjory Saves the Everglades by Sandra Neil Wallace, animal figures, and lessons for children. They are made all the more inspiring with the addition of original poetry by Autumn. Her poems narrate the unique wonder and beauty of the Everglades, celebrating its creatures large and small, [...]

Your Moment of Everglades Zen: Start your year with a trip to the Everglades!

The Everglades: Homestead to Flamingo If you’ve ever entered Everglades National Park through Homestead, you know the feeling of anticipation and joy as you get closer to the magical river of grass. Farmland soon morphs into the vast beauty of one of America’s most unique national parks,, where freshwater marsh and tree islands blend seamlessly into open pinelands and mangrove swamp, wading birds and reptiles coexist, and the subtropics reach the continental United States.  This collection of photos embodies the wonders you can find along the glorious, 38-mile stretch of State Road 9336, from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center in Homestead all the way down to the [...]

2024-01-02T09:31:57-05:00January 2nd, 2024|All Posts, Everglades National Park, Everglades Zen|

Your Moment of Everglades Zen: Magical Moments of 2023

Our favorite Everglades photos of 2023 Photos and words by Friends of the Everglades Multimedia Producer Leah Voss It’s a special honor to work full-time at Friends of the Everglades visualizing this unique ecosystem through images and video. Many days are spent behind a computer screen, crafting visual stories that help people understand Everglades issues and get to know our supporters and staff. But the days I spend outside are the most memorable. This year, I’ve explored the Greater Everglades on foot, by boat and car, and gained even greater perspective with aerial views while piloting my drone. Each method of surveying provides a different experience.  As I [...]

Your Everglades moment of zen: The peace of poetry

Our hearts are with those impacted by Hurricane Idalia. We hope this dose of Everglades zen brings comfort to those seeking refuge in the beauty of nature. The poetry of nature is a balm for stormy times Did you know Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a poet? During her stint as a columnist at the Miami Herald in the early 1920s, she wrote poetry that topped her columns in the newspaper. This marked the beginning of her explorations of Florida’s landscape and geography.  Her poetic musings about the Greater Everglades became a foundation for her better-known nonfiction writing and environmental advocacy through Friends of the Everglades. For this month’s moment of Everglades zen, our Multimedia Producer Leah Voss explored the mile-long [...]

2023-08-30T11:13:15-04:00September 5th, 2023|All Posts, Everglades Zen|

Your moment of Everglades zen: Flora of the River of Grass

Native plants are a life-source of the Everglades. The Everglades is an oasis of tropical flora unlike any other place in the world. Orchids. Bromeliads. Succulents. Wildflowers. And, of course, the sawgrass that inspires the nickname “River of Grass.” The largest subtropical wilderness in the United States provides a perfect habitat for hundreds of diverse plant species that play a crucial role in the ecosystem. They provide habitat and food for birds, insects, reptiles, and mammals. Native plants also filter and purify water in the Everglades, helping to maintain the balance of the freshwater system and soil stability, preventing erosion and facilitating water absorption.  Plant species (from left) poisonwood, ghost orchid, air plant.  Unfortunately, over 160 native Everglades plant [...]

Your moment of Everglades zen: Enjoying the greater Everglades in the heat of summer

Beat the heat. Stay in the car. If you’re looking for an isolated, driveable Everglades adventure this summer, Loop Road might be the trip for you.  Although summer doesn’t officially begin for a few more weeks, the season of high heat, humidity and endless mosquito bites is already here. While these conditions make it challenging to hike or kayak South Florida’s iconic wetlands, the Everglades can still be enjoyed from the comfort of your air-conditioned car along the 24-mile Loop Road in Big Cypress National Preserve.  Accessible from the Tamiami Trail, the mostly gravel road takes you through three counties (Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade), offering views of sawgrass prairies, [...]

2023-06-05T17:16:49-04:00June 6th, 2023|All Posts, Everglades Zen|

Your Moment of Everglades Zen: The Wonder of the Night Sky

The Milky Way stretches over Everglades National Park in May 2022. Photo by Anthony Sleiman. Discover the Milky Way​ Believe it or not, you can see comets, shooting stars and even the Milky Way in South Florida. This is one of many natural benefits Everglades National Park provides us. With 1.5 million acres of undeveloped land, the park is a haven for darkness and a chance to escape from all-consuming light pollution.  We just celebrated International Dark Sky Week (April 15-22), and this week's cooler weather provides an enticing excuse to visit Everglades National Park to experience the wonders of the night. (Note: The Shark Valley park entrance is closed May 6-23 for maintenance.)  Here are some [...]

2023-05-01T19:38:57-04:00May 2nd, 2023|Everglades National Park, Everglades Zen|

Your Everglades moment of Zen: Just Hatched!

Spring is in full bloom, signaling something we look forward to every year: It’s baby bird season! Everywhere you look in the Greater Everglades ecosystem, hatchlings are cracking open their multi-colored shells to peek out into the world for the first time. And they’re hungry! Their mouths are often wide open and pointed skyward, marking bullseyes for their parents to drop food inside. These birds will mature relatively quickly and will soon take flight to join the flocks that are indicative of thriving Florida ecosystems. Friends of the Everglades Multimedia Producer Leah Voss has spent the last few weeks capturing these Easter-egg-come-early moments. Barred owls, eagles, osprey, and [...]

2023-04-04T14:25:23-04:00April 4th, 2023|All Posts, Everglades Zen, Wildlife Habitat|