UM students learn coastal conservation at Florida Keys

A group of University of Montevallo students received firsthand experience in managing conservation efforts in one of the most environmentally unique parts of the country in December 2019.

Dr. Susan Caplow, assistant professor of environmental studies, Dr. Meredith Tetloff, associate professor of social work, and Dr. John W. Stewart III, UM president, led an eight-day trip to the Florida Keys as part of a one-credit class titled “Coastal Conservation Education.”

The course focused on informal education experiences on and near the Florida Keys. Students explored both strategies and content of coastal conservation education.

Excursions included programs at the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary, Everglades National Park, Frost Science Center, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Windley Key Geologic State Park, Theater of the Sea, Aquarium Encounters, the Turtle Hospital, University of Miami’s Rosenstiel’s School of Atmospheric and Marine Sciences and a visit with the Miami Waterkeeper.

The experience provided numerous benefits to the students who participated. Most of the students had never spent time in south Florida, so the exposure to the physical landscape was new and exciting. The students had opportunities to learn about careers in a variety of organizations focused on environmental protection, management, education and policy.

“The students were able to connect with other UM students committed to environmental protection,” Caplow said. “They were also able to have some fun as part of their UM experience!”