New environmental and wildlife programs coming to Camp Helen and Eden Gardens State Parks

March 24, 2016

 Friends of Florida State Parks (FFSP) has received a grant of $8,200 from the St. Joe Community Foundation for new environmental and wildlife programs at Camp Helen and Eden Garden State Parks.

FFSP is the statewide, volunteer, nonprofit organization that supports all the volunteer groups that work with Florida’s 174 award winning state parks and trails. The grants were awarded for FFSP’s Yellow Buses in the Parks program.

FFSP believes it is vital for children to understand how important the natural environment is and to establish a solid foundation for environmental stewardship in the next generation. Florida State Parks offer excellent programs that school children can take advantage of but they are often unable to attend due to lack of funding.  The FFSP Yellow Buses in the Parks program addresses the challenges that schools and other organizations (after school programs, scouts and other group organizations for elementary children) may have funding transportation, and provides tools to make the experience as interesting and educational as possible. 

Camp Helen and Eden Gardens State Parks will be offering new wildlife and environmental education programs that include the STEM based LIFE (Learning in Florida Environments) program as well as hands on Wildlife programs (Sea Turtles, Shore Birds, Owls, Bears, Frogs, Bees, Bats, Butterflies & Aquatic Critters), Hiking & Tracking programs, and a Marine Debris program that teaches the effects of pollution on the marine environment.

The St. Joe Community Foundation funding allows FFSP to purchase equipment for the approximately 2,500 children who will take advantage of these programs each year.

These programs include Sea Turtles, which describes the basic life cycle of sea turtles and special adaptations necessary for surviving in different habitats. It can be easily adapted for all ages – from grade 2 to adults. The Shore Birds program, also designed for all ages, studies the many ways birds adapt to different habitats and food sources. What a Hoot studies how owls are adapted to being active at night and students are taught how to tell what these nocturnal hunters have been eating.

Other programs include learning about bears, bees, bats and butterflies, how to conduct scientific experiments to investigate all the creatures living in ponds, and how to tackle the growing problem of marine debris and the effect it has on the environment.

“We are enormously grateful for the generosity of the St. Joe Community Foundation is making this funding available to allow these very worthwhile educational and environmental projects to go ahead. As a result, thousands of schoolchildren will learn more about the environment and how they can preserve and protect it,” said Don Philpott, FFSP President.