Sunshine and blue skies greeted students, political dignitaries and community champions as they arrived at Everglades National Park on Friday, December 6, 2019. The occasion? The 72nd anniversary of the park, which was dedicated by President Harry Truman in 1947.
In celebration of this major anniversary, The Everglades Foundation, in partnership with the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee and its Ocean To Everglades initiative, welcomed 100 Everglades Champion School students (grades 2, 3 and 4) for a special ceremony recognizing champions from the community: past, present, and future.
With Zoo Miami’s Goodwill Ambassador and Communications Director, Ron Magill, serving as host, the morning event kicked off with present-day Everglades champions, Pedro Ramos, Superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, and Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation, speaking about the importance of protecting and restoring this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. Champions from the past included special guests, Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Little as well as Dick Anderson, and Mercury Morris, all three members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. As spokesman, Anderson spoke to the students about the importance of teamwork and how playing “as a team” rather than individuals was the key the ’72 Dolphins success.
“December 6 was an incredibly special day where we were given the unique opportunity to celebrate the critical importance of America’s Everglades alongside some of the most notable champions in our community,” said Eikenberg in reflection of the event. “For 72 years, this silent and majestic place has taken us away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I’m grateful to have been a part of this celebration, amongst a group of passionate environmentalists and the Everglades champion schools.”
The Everglades Champion School students were later awarded the first-ever Everglades Champion challenge coin. The coin served as an acknowledgment of their school’s embrace of the Everglades Literacy Program, which is focused on inquiry- and project-based learning as well as environmental leadership. The coin also served as a challenge for students to protect the Everglades and our environment in the future.
The ceremony concluded with a 72 birthday cake, students and guests singing Happy Birthday to Everglades National Park and a Park Ranger-led excursion through Anhinga Trail.