By Vivian Miller, Director of Everglades Education & Outreach
Every year, the Everglades Foundation works to educate policy makers and opinion leaders about the importance of restoring the Everglades ecosystem, the source of water for one out of three Floridians.
To some people, it may seem like Florida has one season: sunny. Florida’s lush tropical environment downplays the distinctions between seasons, fueling the perception that Florida is sunny and beautiful year round. In truth, there really are two seasons: wet and dry.
The wet season in the Everglades runs from May to November and is marked by heavy rains, mosquitoes and fewer opportunities for wildlife viewing. The dry season takes place from December to April, resulting in increased wildlife activity due to the limited availability of water in the ecosystem.
We get excited here at the Everglades Foundation when October rolls around because it marks the beginning of our tour season. Tours are an important part of our outreach strategy to educate members of key state and federal agencies, elected officials, partners, donors and other individuals about the importance of Everglades restoration.
Hunting, fishing, tourism, real-estate and agriculture sectors in Florida all depend on a healthy Everglades ecosystem, and our Mather Study shows that Everglades restoration yields a 4:1 return on investment. That means that, for every $1 invested in Everglades restoration, $4 are generated in return.
We held our first tour on October 18 with team members from Darden Restaurant Group, a Florida-based company that employs over 185,000 people. Darden’s Sustainability Team provided a grant to fund Everglades ecosystem restoration projects and joined us to film a video to share with their staff and stakeholders showing the impact of their support.
At the end of this tour, our guests could understand the connection between the Everglades and their own backyard (literally!). Darden is headquartered in Orlando, just north of the headwaters of the Everglades ecosystem.
Here are some other highlights from the tour: