Life Program

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What is the LIFE Program?

Learning in Florida’s Environment (LIFE) is a model for science-based environmental education on public conservation lands.

Each program represents a partnership between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a school district to bring students outdoors to learn science.

Learning In Florida’s Environment

The goal of each LIFE Program site is increased student achievement and teacher professional development in science education.

The LIFE Program is not a curriculum, but a process for reinforcing and enriching the existing curriculum through hands-on, field labs facilitated by park rangers and volunteers who are educators, scientists and land/resource managers.

What are the characteristics of the LIFE Programs?

While each LIFE site is tailored to address local priorities and unique environmental issues, all of the sites share a core set of guiding principles:

  • 1. Audience selection is based on need.
  • 2. Program content is co-developed by teachers and informal science education partners.
  • 3. Students participate in multiple field experiences each year.
  • 4. Program delivery follows best practices in environmental and science education.
  • 5. Integrated and sustained teacher professional development.
  • 6. Long-term partnerships increase project sustainability.
  • 7. Service learning projects connect students to society and their local environment.
  • 8. The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards guide program content.
  • 9. Exposure to real-world technology careers.
  • 10. Connecting with students through cultural competency practices.


  • Become a partner educator at an existing LIFE Program site.

  • Host a field experience at your park or research station.

  • Support travel costs to bring students to the field.

  • Support professional development activities for teachers.

  • Sponsor a field lab activity.

Life Program

What others have to say about LIFE

“Thanks for everything you all have done to support this awesome program.”
Keith Hatcher, Principal, Fort White High School
“More than 3,300 future scientists and environmental stewards have participated in the LIFE program since 2004, and we look forward to inspiring even more in the future.”
Michael W. Sole, Former Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection
“We are excited about the environmental science opportunities for our students . . . . Conducting hands-on experiments and real life research right in the environment is a terrific benefit for our students.”
Dr. Joseph Joyner, Superintendent, St. Johns County Schools
“I have learned that through engaging and exploring, students can grasp scientific information and internalize these concepts because of the real world experiences they are involved in because of our program.”
Irene “Trini” Johannesen, Middle School Science Teacher, Fort White Middle School
“This experience fosters students’ environmental stewardship of our natural resources while supplementing their current school curriculum.”
Jo Ann Gander, Superintendent, Franklin County Schools

LIFE: Science Shorts

I wanted to share with you our Virtual LIFE program which was created in response to the Covid-19 challenges and teacher requests to complete their field trips.

“This school year we had 14 classes (~300 students) participate in both our Myakka River State Park Freshwater field trip and Oscar Scherer State Park Uplands field trip. They all missed out on the Coastal module which would have taken place at a Sarasota County Park. We have recreated it virtually into three videos. These have now been shared with all 5th grade science teachers in Sarasota County Schools. Please feel free to watch, share with the public, and definitely share with staff and volunteers that have been a part of making the LIFE program in Sarasota County so successful these last 3 years! We also do a different LIFE program for a 6th grade, who missed out on their 2nd field trip. Those labs have been filmed as well (composting and carbon cycle).”

Dr. Katherine Clements
Ecology and Natural Resources Educator

University of Florida/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

6700 Clark Road, Sarasota, FL 34241

Looking For More Information?

For more information on how you can support the LIFE program contact