When did you fall in love with the Everglades? For more than 50 fourth-grade students from Miami Beach, that moment occurred recently at the Royal Palm area of  Everglades National Park.

With cameras, ID sheets and a tool bag of resources, students and leaders embarked on the first-ever Young Friends of the Everglades-led field trip to Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo Trails.

“Why does that alligator have its mouth open?”

“What makes the water so clear?”

“What kind of fish is that? Is it native or invasive?”

“Why does the Everglades need more water?” 

Eager questions like these empowered South Pointe Elementary teachers to build on essential classroom learning. Along the trail, students took water samples, identified plant and animal species, explored human water use, and estimated alligator lengths in hushed voices. They gasped in wonder at birds, turtles, fish, and interesting plants. They wrote about their love of the Everglades and talked about why it should be preserved.

We hope these experiences with Young Friends of the Everglades will inspire students to share their knowledge and love of our unique ecosystem.

Young Friends is a program of Friends of the Everglades that inspires environmental stewardship in the next generation of Everglades advocates. This field experience was the culmination of students’ study of the Everglades. With Young Friends’ Everglades Learning Exploration Kits, they discovered endangered and threatened species, the history of water in the Greater Everglades system, and the contributions of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

You can support experiences like these and learn more about our interactive presentations, Everglades Learning Exploration Kits, and field experiences by visiting everglades.org.

This experience was possible due to support from