Students who participate in the program visit Everglades National Park with their teachers on curriculum-based field trips. The programs take place outdoors, in nature, with all the sights and sounds of the Everglades on full display.
Everglades National Park embraced the initiative by developing new programming to introduce more kids to the Everglades. The new programming drew 5,459 students into the park in the 2018-2019 school year.
Groups of 40-90 students and chaperones break out into small groups and rotate through hands-on learning stations. The EKIP stations feature key Everglades topics, including wildlife, plants, and watershed. Groups later hike a walking trail and explore and observe the wildlife and plants they learned about first-hand.
The program gives students a range of topics to learn about and opens their eyes to eclectic environments of the park. EKIP is offered at Shark Valley and Royal Palm.
Shark Valley: Groups of 40-60 4th-grade students take a 15-mile open-air tram ride with a ranger and explore the concepts of habitats, watershed, food webs, flora, and fauna. The round-trip tour stops at an observation tower, where students get to eat lunch and gaze out an unforgettable scenic view of the Everglades.
Royal Palm/Long Pine Key: National Park Service rangers and teachers guide groups of 25-90 5th and 6th-grade students on a walking tour of the Anhinga Trail to explore the wildlife, sawgrass prairie, and freshwater slough habitats. Following the first hike, the group travels to Long Pine Key for lunch, followed by a second hike through a tropical hardwood hammock and the pine rocklands.
Groups of 16-26 5th and 6th-grade students experience a three-day adventure filled with hikes, stargazing, artistic expression, water debate, canoeing and tram trips. Students get to explore the diverse habitats of the Everglades, including sawgrass prairies, pine rocklands, tropic hardwood hammock, and cypress slough. Students sleep in tents on site and have access to restrooms, water, meals, grills, and a campfire.
There are two camping locations, Hidden Lake and Loop Road, used exclusively for Everglades Education Programs:
This program extends Everglades education to 9th through 12th-grade students. Groups of 25-50 high schoolers experience the historic past of the Nike Missile Base within Everglades National Park. Students learn about the purpose of the base, soldier life, and the story of Operation Pedro Pan. The program is offered at Shark Valley and Royal Palm.
The SFNPT funds student field trips to Everglades National Park each year for 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students. During the 2018-2019 school year, 12,838 students visited the park on curriculum-based programs led by National Park Service rangers.
The programs were made possible through the generous support of the Peacock Foundation, National Park Foundation, Miami Foundation, Batchelor Foundation, and other Trust donors.
The future of the Everglades and South Florida’s ecosystem need the help of the next generation of National Park Service rangers, scientists, conservationists, and learners. Help support today’s students who will be supporting and protecting our community’s wetlands tomorrow.