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Eco Tours of Florida: A Contemporary Class Trip Idea For Science Students

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.

Airboat Ride
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 info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote.

Educational Student Travel Explores the Study of Nature with Virginia Adventure Eco Tours

Educational student travel is an excellent way to encourage young people to explore the natural world around them. As issues of environmental preservation and conservation become more visible on the world stage, environmental educational field trips and student travel tours have started to focus on flora, fauna, wildlife, ocean ecosystems, conservation and preservation. In the state of Virginia, not far from Washington D.C., adventure eco tours can be planned to a variety of unforgettable regions off the coast, where people of all ages can learn about the power and wonder of nature.

Educational Group Travel to Assateague Island & Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

On Assateague Island visitors will find sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. Ranger guided programs make exploring the island simple and fun. Assateague Island National Seashore was created to preserve the natural ecosystem of the Mid-Atlantic coast and encompasses over 48,000 acres of water and land in Virginia and Maryland.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 300 species of birds, wildlife and plants. The legendary wild horses and uniqueness of the barrier island provide endless opportunities for natural heritage and environmental education for all ages.

Student Travel on the Open Sea: Whale Watching and Dolphin Tours

Between the winter months of December and March, humpback whales migrate near the coast of Virginia near Virginia Beach. These ocean mammals are most famous for their large size, visible movements and an advanced form of communication-the whale song. Fin whales, the second largest animal on Earth, also migrate near Virginia Beach and are known for their speed. Educational, group whale watching trips can be organized through private companies and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.

Students can watch other marine life, including birds, in their natural habitat and view local historic landmarks such as the Cape Henry Lighthouse. Bottlenose dolphins also live along the Virginia Beach coast and are visible between May and October each year. These amazing creatures jump, play and love attention from onlookers. Dolphin cruises can be booked for small and large student tours.

Experience the Magic of Science: Plan and Educational Tour of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is one of the best locations for an environmental, educational field trip. Students and teachers will discover over 300 hands-on exhibits, a nature trail, an outdoor aviary and marshlands. Visitors can also enjoy the 3D IMAX Theater, which features a movie screen 6 stories tall and eight stories wide.

The Bay and Ocean Pavilion takes visitors on a journey through the waters of Virginia and introduces students to native aquatic animals and plants. The Marsh Pavilion is home to snakes, otters and more. The nature trail crosses the marsh and woods. Educational tours of the 30-foot observation tower will guarantee student attention.

Eco Educational Student Tours at the Virginia Living Museum
The Virginia Living Museum is dedicated to making Virginia’s natural heritage come to life. Museum exhibits tell the stories of the animals, plants, marine life and land from the Virginia Mountains to the Coastal Plain. Galleries and exhibits include:

–Virginia’s Piedmont and Mountains Gallery
–James River Exhibit
–Virginia’s World of Darkness gallery
–Virginia’s Underground Gallery
–Appalachian Mountain Cover and Cypress Swamp
–Discovery Centers
–Abbitt Observatory
–Planetarium Theater
–Outdoor Boardwalk
–Coastal Plain Aviary
–The Butterfly Garden

Many changing exhibits are also shown annually at the museum.

Adventure Eco Tours: Discover Animals from Abroad at the Virginia Zoo

According to the Virginia Zoo web site there are nearly 400 animals living on the premises including:
–Grants or Plains Zebra
–African Lion
–Masai Giraffe
–Red River Hog
–Eastern bongo
–White rhino
–Siberian tiger
–Rock hyrax
–White-throated monitor
–Pancake tortoise

The Virginia Zoological Park helps visitors learn about the world’s flora and fauna and is dedicated to excellent treatment of the animals that live there. Education, research and conservation are some of the Virginia Zoo’s top priorities.

Student tours of the Virginia Zoo will also explain the importance of wildlife rehabilitation and the preservation of natural resources. School Discovery Programs are also available and were created to assist teachers. Informal science education programs motivate students through live animal presentations, wildlife adventure activities and even Virginia Zoo overnight stays. The Zoo is often seeing reliable volunteers for help with educational programs and special events.

Taking a student group on an eco-tour of Virginia can occur in one of two ways. The tour can be totally focused on ecological studies and issues and include the above-mentioned sites. Or an eco-tour may include a two or three day visit to Washington D.C. Here students can learn about democracy, visit the major historic sites, and partake in a cultural event, in addition to visiting an eco-tour destination.
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