By Michelle Krug, Broward County public school teacher
I have been teaching science in Florida public schools for over 30 years. Many students rarely have explored or understood the ecological value of the area in which they live. I have used public lands as outdoor classes for my students to see the value and richness of Florida’s environment and its connection to their lives.
In my many years, after classroom engagement, students would visit and see in person why Florida is a natural wonder while introducing why and how we should protect these resources. My students have explored and collected data on the vast biodiversity of the river of grass via Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge, Shark Valley at Everglades National Park, and Sawgrass Recreational Area; the coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove ecosystems at Biscayne National park and John Pennekamp State Park and learn about birds, and techniques for bird watching and identification at many Broward County parks.
Using public lands as an outdoor classroom is fun for the students, sparks their interest, improves critical thinking skills, and advocates the responsibility to protect these areas.