The Florida Wildlife Corridor teamed up with the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN) and the Let's Move! Outside- Tampa initiative to help underserved youth from the greater Tampa Bay area [watch the video here]. Over two different weekends, in an experience of a lifetime, they went kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling with manatees at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. This is the first of three field trips to help remove some of the barriers for these kids to learn to enjoy their Florida and visit areas supported by the Corridor.
Florida youth often don’t get the opportunity to explore parts of Florida that are closer than they might think. The participants viewed the Forgotten Coast film to learn more about Florida’s wild places and how conservationists are working to protect them. They were then able to visit the Crystal Springs area featured in the journey- just over an hour away from them. In the colder months the manatees are present in the springs since the water is a constant 72 degrees, which means they had the opportunity to experience these wonderful animals up close.
Providing a safe place for these kids to kayak, snorkel, and enjoy the springs - many for the first time ever - can instill a lifelong love of the outdoors. These opportunities help ensure that the next generation will treasure and protect these wild spaces. In this collaborative effort, we encouraged youth to learn new skills, engage with others, and develop confidence on the water. Partnerships, like these between Florida Wildlife Corridor, FYCCN and Let's Move Outside, can help us all accomplish more by sharing resources and engaging broader sections of our community in programs that combine conservation, education and recreation.
A big thanks to Florida Eco-Adventures, Wendy's of Crystal River, Brother’s pizza, USF- St. Pete Rec Center’s Kaitlyn Mollo, and Friends, staff, and volunteers of Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. Our success stems from your dedication!