Once a year, our Friends of the Everglades staff takes a group trip to explore part of the greater Everglades ecosystem. It’s a stark contrast to our daily grind — when we can be found most often behind our computer screens, studying the details of environmental challenges, projects and policies. It’s in these moments, when we are immersed in the places we’re working so hard to protect, that we find inspiration to carry on fighting.

Our recent trip to Everglades City and Chokoloskee was illuminating. We found a taste of authentic Old Florida during our stay at The Rod and Gun Club in Everglades City, a sleepy town that boasts a population of fewer than 400 residents. A sunset cruise on Chokoloskee Bay  was a voyage of discovery through mangrove-edged waterways, amid  roseate spoonbills, nesting bald eagles, flocks of white pelicans and (much to our delight) several juvenile sawfish as they cruised the shallows. 

We watched in wonder as the clouds around us turned into wisps of pink and purple before the whole sky blazed a deep orange. We kept pace with flocks of birds winging home for the night to a crowded rookery located on the ominously named Sandfly Island. 

We were lucky to have our multimedia producer Leah Voss aboard to document some of the more memorable moments, and we are thrilled to share the best of the best of those with you today.