Ebel Henrius is a fourth-grader at Morningside K-8 Academy who loves to look at alligators and turtles.
On Thursday, March 3, Ebel visited The Everglades for the first time along with his classmates.
The Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club took the students from Morningside and Frederick Douglas Elementary on a field trip thanks to President Barack Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative.
“The majority of the kids we work with, it’s their first time in the park and to bring them out here and show them that The Everglades isn’t scary and that it’s a special place worth protecting is fantastic,” said Kelly Wood, an Everglades National Park Service ranger. “We’ve had over 2,000 students come to the park in 2016 so far through this program.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Every Kid in a Park initiative, which has been active since September 2015, offers fourth-graders and their families a park pass to visit the U.S. federal lands and waters at no cost for one year.
Fouth-graders who take advantage of the opportunity can get access to the free annual passes by logging onto the Every Kid in a Park website and following the steps along with their parents or guardians. Fourth-grade teachers also are granted applications in order to take their classes on trips.
Carlos Gaviria, president of the Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club, says that thanks to the initiative, kids can see the vast amount of nature and wildlife within the Unites States National Parks.
“Most of these kids don’t leave a four- or five-block radius of their house, so obviously bringing them all the way to the Everglades is a huge experience for them, said Gaviria, who has been leading the Biscayne Bay chapter since October 2015. “This is part of what we do; not just bring them to the Everglades, but to the science museums, to the beach, giving them swimming lessons.”
The Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club works with children from Miami-Dade County schools in areas starting from downtown to Morningside. Twice a year, the volunteer-driven nonprofit group takes kids on field trips to the Everglades.
Thursday was their first time doing it through Obama’s program.
The kids arrived in school buses at 11:30 a.m. After getting instructed by Ranger Wood, they split into groups and began walking through the Anhinga Trail, pointing out different types of fish, birds, alligators and turtles.
After lunch, they went to different learning centers, set up by volunteers of the program in the Everglades, where they learned about different animals and historical facts about the national park. They also took a hiking trip.
Follow @CataBalzano on Twitter
For more information visit www.nationalparks.org