Huntington, Ind.—Huntington University’s Nick Yarde, adjunct professor, and Dr. Jeffrey Webb, associate professor of history, led an eight-day study tour of the Florida Everglades National Park as part of their January Term course, American Environmental History.
Adjunct professor Nick Yarde leads a discussion about coastal ecology on the observation deck at Snake Bight Trail near the Florida Bay in Everglades National Park. (Click for high resolution image.)
Participating students were Brad McDaniel, a junior history education major from Auburn, Ind.; Mike McKinney, a senior biology education major from Huntington, Ind.; Nicole Tow, a freshman elementary education major from Rensselaer, Ind.; Jayson Clore, a sophomore pre-med major from Grand Rapids, Mich.; Abbey Whiteman, a sophomore elementary education major from Yoder, Ind.; Bethany Albert, a sophomore elementary education major from Findlay, Ohio; Luke Andrews, a freshman accounting major from Greenwood, Ind.; Ben Decker, a sophomore history major from Fremont, Ohio; Alex Williams, a freshman history education major from North Judson, Ind.; and David Blocher, a sophomore elementary education major from North Manchester, Ind.
During the Florida tour, students learned about the problems of water management south of Lake Okeechobee and the environmental impact of urban growth and large-scale commercial agriculture in the region. The tour took students through Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park, where they learned about environmental restoration in the different sub-zones within the Everglades ecosystem, ranging from hardwood hammocks to sawgrass marsh to mangrove estuaries. The trip itinerary enabled students to experience some of the unusual plant and animal life peculiar to these sub-zones, like the flocks of heron, ibis, cormorant, and anhinga in the Shark River Slough area and the rare American crocodiles living among the mangroves of Florida Bay.
Among trip highlights were a canoe exploration of the Ten Thousand Islands area along the Gulf of Mexico, and snorkeling in the Atlantic Ocean in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, some three miles off the coast of Key Largo. During these off-shore excursions, students studied the geologic history of the Florida peninsula as well as changing coastal ecology within the era of human habitation. The Everglades tour comprised part of a new interdisciplinary course designed to introduce students to the new fields of historical ecology and environmental history, and to encourage reflection on Christian environmental stewardship.
The study tour lasted from January 6-14, 2006.
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