‘Perfect’ Dolphins honor students from Everglades Champion Schools

‘Perfect’ Dolphins honor students from Everglades Champion Schools
Pictured (l-r) are Dick Anderson, Larry Little and Mercury Morris of the 1972 Miami Dolphins celebrating Everglades National Park’s 72nd anniversary with Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation.
(Photo Credit: Stephanie Tiangco Carrion)

The Everglades Foundation, in partnership with the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee’s Ocean to Everglades Initiative (O2E) and Everglades National Park, celebrated the 72nd anniversary of the park on Dec. 6, with a special ceremony recognizing champions from the community: past, present and future. The park originally was dedicated on Dec. 6, 1947.

Zoo Miami wildlife expert Ron Magill emceed, while speakers including Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez; Pedro Ramos, superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks; Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation; Ray Martinez, executive director of the Super Bowl Host Committee, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Little as well as Dick Anderson and Mercury Morris. All three members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, spoke about the importance of environmental stewardship and the legacy of conservationists.

Approximately 100 students from Everglades Champion Schools — schools that integrate The Everglades Foundation’s Everglades Literacy Program into their curriculum and promote environmental leadership —received a limited-edition Challenge Coin in recognition of their efforts.

“For 72 years, this silent and majestic place has taken us away from our problems, away from the noise, away from the lights, away from our cell phones and iPads, away from our computers and it has restored our souls just as it did generations beforehand,” Eikenberg said. “And come this February, when the Super Bowl comes back to Miami, the eyes of the entire world will be focused on South Florida — from the ocean to America’s Everglades.

“On behalf of the entire staff of The Everglades Foundation and our board of directors, we are honored to be a part and privileged to support the legacy of Super Bowl LIV and to renew our commitment to South Florida’s environment. All of you here today, our Everglades Champions, will protect the Oceans to the Everglades for generations to come.”

The Everglades Foundation’s Everglades Literacy Program aims to inspire a new generation of conservation stewards by investing in teachers and encouraging cultural change within schools. Since its founding four years ago, the program has reached approximately 3,000 teachers in 21 school districts across the state.

The program aims to address the absence of a comprehensive Everglades education program at the K-12 level by providing free teacher training, a curriculum aligned to Florida Standards, one-on-one support and other resources. An Everglades Champion School encourages teachers to participate in Everglades literacy professional development, integrates Everglades literacy into the curriculum, promotes inquiry- and project-based learning, and encourages Everglades leadership.

Everglades National Park’s Education Program has been contributing to Everglades Literacy since 1971. Each year, the park brings over 15,000 schoolchildren and teachers to experience and learn about the Everglades and the various ecosystems within the park.”

Everglades National Park protects the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States with more than 1.5 million acres of sawgrass prairies, pine rock lands, cypress and hardwood forests, and an extensive mangrove estuary leading to the seagrass meadows of Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Established in 1947 as the first national park created for its biodiversity, Everglades National Park is home to many critically threatened and endangered species including the Florida panther, the American crocodile and the West Indian manatee. Along with the water conservation areas to the north, the park also contributes to the recharge of South Florida’s water supply.

The Everglades Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to leading efforts to restore and protect the greater Everglades ecosystem. Since its founding in 1993 by a group of local outdoor enthusiasts, the Foundation has become a respected and important advocate for the sustainability of one of the world’s most unique ecosystems. For more information about The Everglades Foundation, visit EvergladesFoundation.org.

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