The Everglades Foundation and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment have teamed up to teach Florida’s youth how to save the Everglades.
The partnership sponsored the Everglades Literacy Curriculum, which has been taught to more than 1,500 teachers in 11 Florida counties during the past three years. Those teachers have passed the lessons on to 60,000 students to help them understand the ecological and economic impact of the Everglades ecosystem.
One in three Floridians, or about 8 million people, get their drinking water from the Everglades, which is home to 72 threatened or endangered species of plant and animal life. Nearly 400,000 jobs in tourism, recreation, boating, fishing, agriculture and real estate depend upon a healthy Everglades.
The Everglades have been damaged during the last century by draining that has reduced the wetlands to half their original size. Its wading bird population has also diminished by 90 percent and pollution has harmed much of the remaining ecosystem.
The curriculum introduces students to key aspects of the Everglades ecosystem including its watershed, endangered species and water conservation.
“Because the Everglades begin here in Orlando, at Shingle Creek, we thought it was critical to partner with the Foundation to educate and inspire our youth to protect, preserve and repair this valuable ecosystem for the benefit of the citizens of Florida and the animals who call it home,” said Brandon Tidwell, director of corporate responsibility for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
SeaWorld hosted the literacy training and also gave teachers a backstage tour of their animal rescue operations.
“I think it is pivotal for teachers to be educated on such a precious resource like the Everglades so we can enlighten and empower our students to make changes to benefit the Everglades,” shares Josh Pederson, a teacher at SunRidge Elementary in Winter Garden. Pederson was one of more than 40 Orange County teachers who recently attended an Everglades training workshop at SeaWorld Orlando.
Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation, said he hopes the initiative will help children become better stewards of this important natural resource.