Swamp Water and Me Program

Collier County students, teachers and parents step out of the classroom and into the swamps of Big Cypress National Preserve thanks to the free environmental education program

Swamp Water and Me Program

The Swamp Water and Me Program (SWAMP) at Big Cypress National Preserve is a curriculum-based environmental education program serving 6th-grade students and teachers in Collier County. SWAMP turns Big Cypress into an outdoor classroom where students participate in hands-on experiential learning. 

Programs are offered free of charge to all public and private schools in Collier County from October to March.

What does a SWAMP Student do?

The program encourages students to use their observation and analytical skills to discover variations in the natural world. The program has three main components:

  • Classroom Visits: SWAMP begins in the classroom with a visiting Big Cypress National Park Service ranger.  Students are introduced to the Big Cypress and briefed on their upcoming field trip.

  • Class Field Trips: Students embark on a day-long field trip to Big Cypress where they use radio-telemetry equipment, GPS and compass to track a Florida panther (in reality, a beanie baby) in three habitats. Once they locate the panther, the students conduct water quality tests, take soil samples, record the weather, and identify local flora and fauna. All data collected and measurements recorded by students are used for follow-up activities back in the classroom.

  • Teacher Workshops: Teachers who participate in SWAMP attend a workshop before they bring their students on a field trip to Big Cypress.

Program Funding

The SFNPT funds student field trips to Big Cypress National Preserve each year for 6th-grade students from Collier County. During the 2018-2019 school year, more than 2,190 students, teachers and parent chaperones visited the park on curriculum-based programs led by National Park Service rangers. The programs were made possible through the generous support of the Community Foundation of Collier County, South Florida photographer Clyde Butcher and his family, and other Trust donors.    

Help support Collier County students experience this hands-on, engaging and unforgettable experience!

SWAMP by the Numbers

Nearly 2,000 students completed the Swamp Water and Me Program during the 2018-2019 school year from October to March.  31% of all students who visited Big Cypress on a SWAMP field trip this year were enrolled at a Title I school in Collier County.

Click here to get the full report.