Environmental Leadership Spring Break Trip

Reflections from Florida: An Overview of the Environmental Spring Break Trip

Our trip was a whirlwind of activities and adventures through West Palm Beach, Florida. The trip began with a long kayak ride through the Loxahatchee River, where we were immersed in the wilderness of Florida. We saw alligators, beautiful plants, interesting insects and some beautiful trees. The kayak ride was a way to start the trip off with a bang, and it made us all want to see more of Florida.

Much of the next two days were spent earning our scuba certifications off the coast of Jupiter Beach, and in an inlet in West Palm Beach. The experience was one I will never forget, as we got to see huge starfish, tropical fish and large spans of a coral reef. We even saw a small nurse shark! The non-divers toured a turtle rehabilitation center, and went on a boat ride around Jupiter Beach to view all the beautiful houses and an island where JFK had a bomb shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

After our amazing scuba dive adventures, we visited two different waste plants and Busch Wildlife Preserve. One waste plant addressed water waste, which showed us the different ways in which they sustainably processed water. They also were working towards saving the biodiversity in the Loxahatchee River, as well as addressing water flow issues which affected both the river and inlets surrounding it. The other waste plant is considered one of the foremost waste plants in the nation, turning waste into energy and recyclables into products that can be reused as building materials, paint, glass and many more effective uses. Our tour guide called it the “Disneyland of Waste Management.” Lastly, we visited the Busch Wildlife Preserve where we met animals who had been saved. These animals ended up at the center either through injury or illegal possession by a civilian. Animals ranged from the Florida Panther, to a pair of otters, to many different types of snakes, turtles and birds. The foundation works to rehabilitate animals back into the wild, but often the injuries are too extensive for the animals to ever properly enter back into their natural habitat.

Overall, the trip was an incredible learning experience and we all had a fantastic time. I would do it again in a heartbeat.