Class trips to Washington D.C., New York City, and Orlando, Florida often focus on the study of government, history, culture and art. But what about the science student, who is engaged in studying the environment and biology? Hands on interaction with the natural world can be a joyful learning experience. Eco tours of Florida are a great way to engage this type of student in some active learning about these subjects.
These days, students want to know how and why they need to protect the natural, uncontaminated wilderness areas from further incursion by ‘progress.’ Eco tours of Florida offer science students a course that will begin to answer some of these questions.
This article gives a brief overview of a sample itinerary for an educational group tour of areas of Florida where the study and preservation of the environment is the focus. It can be customized to match a group’s specific educational objectives.
Swamp Buggy Daytime and Nighttime Eco Tour
A swamp buggy is a vehicle that’s designed to navigate the Everglades landscape with ease. The extra large tires, elevated design and cage-like passenger seating area provide safety while touring wilderness areas of the Everglades by land. Black bears, panthers, alligator, deer, antelope and hogs are some of the animals that might be seen on a swamp buggy eco tour. Student tour leaders can book swamp buggy tours in advance of their trip. It’s a great way to see animals in their natural habitat and keep students secure while doing so.
Overnight Stay in Traditional Seminole Chickee Huts
The Seminole Indians once constructed their homes from bald cypress logs and palmetto thatched roofs. Gradually, the Spanish took over their land and they were forced deeper into the Everglades. The Seminole began to build their huts on raised platforms over rivers and bays. The National Park Service provides overnight camping in Chickee Hut style sites that are accessible only by water. Tents can be used but stakes and nails are not permitted. An outhouse is attached to the Chickee huts and each platform can hold 5 or 6 campers. Adventurous student travel groups would find the experience of camping on the water extraordinary. Groups should bring plenty of bug spray and come equipped with a strong rope for getting in and out of canoes.
Everglades National Park Boat Tour
Everglades National Park is a national treasure that has several nicknames such as: Mangrove Wilderness, Ten Thousand Islands, or River of Grass. The park encompasses 1.5 million acres. One of the best ways to see the wildlife, birds, flora and fauna, is by boat tour. The dry season is from November through May, and is a perfect time for student tours to visit the Everglades. Students may see dolphins, alligators, tropical birds, mangrove trees, and more while taking the boat tour of the Everglades. Educational travel companies will schedule tours with National Park Service approved boat tour companies that are licensed and insured to work in the park.
Shark Valley Tram Tour
If the student group is too large for swamp buggy tours, the tram tour of the Everglades is a good alternative. The Shark Valley Tram Tour is led by a naturalist and provides access to the Northern part of Everglades National Park. These open air trams glide easily through the wetlands and give student groups an up-close perspective of the wetlands. The nickname River of Grass was given to the Everglades because of the proliferation of grass prairies that permeate these wetlands. Midway through the tram tour, students can climb onto an observation deck for a bird’s eye view of the northern Everglades.
Mangrove creeks, also called walking trees, populate the swamplands of the Everglades. Airboats are a popular way to cruise these creeks and see the alligators – without being too close. Airboat companies offer ½ hour, 1 hour and 1 ½ hour boat tours of the Everglades. Boat captains are familiar with the environment and the fragile habitats of the reptiles, birds, and amphibians that live there. Student groups love a thrilling airboat ride through the swamps.
Florida Keys Snorkeling and/or Glass Bottom Boat Tour
The Florida keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in the lower 48 states of the U.S. The coral reefs are five miles offshore from the keys and are easily accessible by boat. Two of the most popular ways to explore the rich marine life that lives in and among the reefs is by glass bottom boat or snorkeling. On board a glass bottom boat or on a guided snorkeling trip, students can see over 80 different kinds of coral fish, as well as lobster, urchins, shrimp, anemones and more. Many different varieties of coral are also visible in these waters, too. Seeing the richness and diversity of marine life near the Florida Keys is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to learn firsthand about marine science and why it is so important to preserve these habitats.
Dolphin Research Center
Everyone loves dolphins. Of all of the marine life, they seem to be the most fun, lovable, and playful creatures of the sea. At the Dolphin Research Center, student travel groups have a chance to interact with dolphins through their swim with the dolphins program, or look more closely at these unique sea animals by participating in a DolphinLab. The Dolphin Research Center is located on Grassy Key, at mile marker 59. A trip to the DRC can easily be integrated into the itinerary of an Eco Tour.
Key West Conch Train Tour
Students can rediscover the allure and legacy of those who visited and lived in the Florida Keys by taking a ride on The Conch Train tour. The Conch Train tour provides a look at the last island of the Florida Keys – Key West. Notable writer Ernest Hemingway and President Harry Truman were two of the most famous part time residents and visitors to Key West. At one time, there was an actual train that took visitors out to the Florida Keys, and the person who built it was Henry Flagler. Today, Flagler Station remains as an everlasting memorial of his vision to bring the world to Key West. Students who take The Conch Train Tour are granted free admission to Flagler Station. This train tour is a wonderful way to see Key West and learn about the history of the island and its inhabitants.
Student travel groups headed to Florida may venture to Orlando and Walt Disney World, or they can opt to do an eco tour of Southern Florida instead. No matter what the focus of a class trip to Florida, it is sure to be educational and fun. For more information about educational eco tours to Florida, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Request a Quote.