Reimagining the 2020 Annual Everglades Teacher Symposium meant creating a human connection and expanding Everglades education despite the distance.
For the past three years, teachers have gathered together for the Everglades Teacher Symposium, a day of learning hosted by the Everglades Foundation’s Everglades Literacy Program. This event is dedicated to professional development, community partnerships and Everglades education.
This year, however, the symposium took on a different form as key speakers and teachers alike made their way to Zoom for a virtual event, held on Thursday, July 23rd, 2020.
The virtual symposium covered topics ranging from connecting classrooms to the Everglades Literacy Program, species conservation, habitat management, new technology and media for environmental education, Everglades restoration, social emotional learning, and the importance of educator self-care. Each session attracted more than 100 teachers from across the state. Their energy and excitement was reflected in the questions and messages of support that filled the chat box.
The day of learning kicked off at 9 am with welcoming remarks by The Everglades Foundation’s Director of Education, Jennifer Diaz, followed by a breakdown of the Everglades Literacy Program by the Foundation’s Education Program Manager, Bianca Cassouto, and Everglades Literacy Program Coordinator, Kim Gooch. Cassouto and Gooch presented on keeping the classroom connected during this time, highlighting the free, standards-aligned K-12 curriculum with Everglades resources and activities available for the traditional and virtual classroom.
Other speakers included:
- Stephanie Killingsworth, the K-12 Education & Outreach Coordinator at the University of Florida’s Thompson Earth Systems Institute; Killingsworth presented on Scientist in Every Florida School, a program that connects K-12 classrooms with scientists and demonstrates the importance of long-term collaboration;
- Timothy Hawthorne, an Associate Professor of Geographic Information System at the University of Central Florida, presented on geospatial technologies, specifically introducing citizen science, mapping and drone technology into the classroom;
- Mike Lloret, the Wildlife Biologist & Crocodile Specialist at Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), brought baby crocodiles on screen and discussed FPL’s Crocodile Management Program, and how monitoring the species since the 1970s has helped conserve one of Florida’s most iconic reptiles;
- The Foundation’s very own Dr. Steve Davis, Vice President of Communications and Engagement / Senior Ecologist, focused on advancing Everglades restoration, providing teachers an important update on recent infrastructure and water management projects;
- And Chi Kim, CEO of Pure Edge, discussed the neuroscience of stress, and how to use an emotional lens to support the well-being of both educators and students.
The event concluded at 3:30 pm with a new sense of support for the incoming school year. The Everglades Literacy Program looks forward to continuing its efforts in connecting students with the Everglades, while supporting every teacher in their initiative to teach about this great ecosystem. To learn more, visit www.evergladesliteracy.org.