Recreation, Entertainment and All Things That Provide an Elevated Park Experience
While we work to ensure the vitality of the flora and fauna throughout the parks, we know that the future of these public lands is really in the hands of those who have the opportunity to experience them firsthand.
By the time visitors leave, we want them to feel as if they’re official champions of these national park units, eager to tout their tremendous natural and wild encounters to everyone they know. To that end, we work with each national park unit to curate the most elevated exploration experiences possible.
Florida Bay, the terminus of the greater Everglades ecosystem, can seem elusive to some. But this body of water is crucial to understanding the overall what’s going on throughout South Florida’s “river of grass.” We funded a brand-new kayaking program that actually got visitors out onto the water of Florida Bay with the rangers of the Everglades National Park. This priceless experience was free of charge to visitors.
We are supporting a pilot program with Everglades National Park’s Shark Valley District to provide access to underserved and marginalized Miami-area communities to one of the most popular destinations within the park. These groups include homeless shelters, migrant worker groups, mental health facilities, rehabilitation/recovery centers, senior living communities, and adult disability centers. Through this program, we tackle the biggest barriers that block these communities from visiting the park – transportation from the city to the park, entrance fees, and the cost of the tram tour – so that people can have a day of respite and personal restoration, as well as receive the personal attention of the rangers. Because this magical place where the gators gather isn’t reserved for only a select few.
Who said trails have to be on land? We worked with Biscayne National Park to establish the Maritime Heritage Trail, which offers an exciting underwater opportunity to explore the remains of some of the park’s many shipwrecks. Six wrecks and the famous Fowey Rocks Lighthouse are included on the trail, so that snorkelers and scuba divers can get up close to some very important pieces of Biscayne’s history.
Want a camping experience, but don’t have the gear? Many years ago, we funded the creation of the prototype design for the eco tents that you see in the Flamingo District of Everglades National Park today. These structures provide shelter for those that may be just dipping their toes into the world of camping (or even those that may be well-versed in camping!) – and many of the eco tents even come fully furnished!
We also help to maintain backcountry campsites, give high school students the opportunity to hunt for undiscovered fungi, welcome stargazers to make the most of our dark South Florida skies, and we definitely get plenty of feet wet with our swamp walks.
Whether it’s personal immersion, direct engagement or relatable education, when we develop visitor programming, it’s more than simply playtime in the parks, it’s recreation that leads to resolve. We only hope to be able to provide more opportunities for visitors to “find their park” in the future.