Life ProgramEighteen Florida State Parks recently received an environmental education kit with equipment to be used in teaching students about science through outdoor environments. Each kit includes binoculars for kids, a water monitoring kit, microscopes, tree height gauges, soil quality digital test kits and other tools for active environmental education programs at state parks. The kits were purchased through a grant partnership between the Jelks Family Foundation and the Florida State Parks Foundation.

Environmental education in state parks supports engaging students in direct experimentation and real-life research in outdoor classrooms. Helping to facilitate these experiences, the equipment kits provide necessary instruments for lab activities and completion of interactive assignments.

“As we look to train the next generation of scientists, teachers and environmental stewards, it is important we create engaging experiences that build a connection for students between the natural environment and their education,” said Tammy Gustafson, Florida State Parks Foundation President. “These kits ensure the tools to make this happen are placed in the hands of students, which puts them on a path of active environmental learning.”

The following Florida State Parks received an environmental education equipment kit:

Okaloosa County: Blackwater River State Park
Walton County: Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Wakulla County: Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Duval County: Little Talbot Island State Park
Gilchrist County: Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park
Flagler County: Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Marion County: Silver Springs State Park and Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway
Citrus County: Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Sarasota County: Oscar Scherer State Park
Hernando County: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Pinellas County: Honeymoon Island State Park
Brevard County: Sebastian Inlet State Park
Lee County: Koreshan State Park
Martin County: Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Miami-Dade County: Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and Oleta River State Park
Monroe County: Bahia Honda State Park

The environmental education programs are facilitated by park rangers and volunteers who are educators, scientists and land/resource managers who engage youth on topics like local ecosystems, conservation and stewardship of public lands.

The Florida State Parks Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.

It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy. The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests. This project was completed by the Florida State Parks Foundation Services LLC, which is a limited liability company affiliate of the Foundation.

About the Author: Courtney