The inaugural Everglades Teacher Symposium: Everglades Round-Up was a wild success! Over 80 participants from seven counties statewide, who represented 43 different schools, filled the room at Ron Bergeron’s Green Glades West Ranch in Weston, Florida, on July 17, 2018. The Everglades Foundation in partnership with FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center and with the support of Community Foundation of Broward organized the Everglades Teacher Symposium to serve as a forum for teachers to participate in professional development sessions, collaborate with community partners, explore new ideas for field studies, and gain content knowledge through facilitated discussions of the greater Everglades ecosystem with Everglades experts.
This year’s event featured impactful speakers like Ron Magill from Zoo Miami, Brian Smith from U.S. Geological Survey, Dr. Steve Davis from The Everglades Foundation, Yvette Cano, Education Specialist from Everglades National Park, and Eilyn Aguirre, a talented art teacher from BioTECH @ Richmond Heights 9-12.
Roundtable discussion topics included integrating Everglades literacy in the classroom, adding art components to lesson plans, and taking a closer look at Everglades field trips and field studies. Teachers had the opportunity to engage with each other to brainstorm and discuss implementing Everglades literacy in their classroom and aligning it with their current curricula.
Teachers praised the roundtable discussions and speakers as extremely valuable…
“It provided strategies and activities on how to integrate the Everglades into my classroom lessons…”
“It meets the Florida science standards and is easy to implement in the classroom. Taking the time to determine and create all aspects of STEAM for the lesson…”
The 2017-2018 Everglades Champion Schools were also recognized at the Symposium. During the 2017-2018 academic school year, fourteen remarkable Florida schools were recognized as Everglades Champion Schools, including five Gold Champions, eight Silver Champions, and one Bronze Champion across Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Orange Counties. The Everglades Champion Schools Recognition Program (ECSRP) recognizes schools as critical partners in Everglades conservation. The goal of the program is to support and celebrate schools that make Everglades literacy a core part of their learning culture and that engage and empower students as the future stewards of the River of Grass. The ECSRP encourages schools to develop Everglades initiatives in five key areas: professional development, curriculum integration, inquiry and project-based learning, school leadership, and innovation.
Many teachers praised the program for its impact on their students’ perspective on protecting the Everglades. Jessica Hernandez of North Hialeah Elementary, a Gold-level Champion said “the best aspect is knowing that we are teaching our students to love the Everglades and to take care of this amazing resource. Seeing their faces light up when they learn about the animals and habitats has been very rewarding.” David Martin of Eagle Point Elementary, another Gold-level Champion, feels that the program “empowers students to want to be change agents and champions of their environment.” Natale Lubinger of Riverglades Elementary, yet another Gold-level Champion, echoes the previous sentiments, adding that “this was a great opportunity to enhance our learning and efforts to help our Everglades.”
With the new school year just kicking off, Susan McGuire of Rock Springs Elementary is looking forward to a great year, “I think that it is an EXCELLENT program! I look forward to teaching it again next school year and expanding our program.”
Congratulations to our 2017-2018 Everglades Champion Schools! We are grateful for all of the educators leading the way in supporting Everglades literacy and conservation in our classrooms, schools, and communities throughout Broward county. We will continue to collaborate on Everglades education to continue educating the future stewards of America’s Everglades. To date, Everglades Literacy has impacted 20 counties and over 2,500 teachers.