Take a Walk on the Wild Side
South Florida National Parks Trust

~ by Sheila Harris-Schutz, Class XIII

My GNL XIII classmates and I have often discussed planning a “Swamp Walk.” Last year, I joined the South Florida National Parks Trust and, while having the dubious honor of holding a python at a recent event, I also learned about the guided walks and services SFNPT offers. So, on a Saturday in May, Susan Jones and I took a walk on the wild side!

Mid-way through our two-plus-hour walk, we stopped for three minutes of silence. Sweet, pure sounds of the swamp bursting with life: birds singing, bees buzzing, frogs croaking, a bit of a breeze rustling the trees. Standing thigh-high in cool, clean, clear water, tiny leaves, minnows and snails floating by, it was like the swamp was breathing–exhaling, inhaling . . . and we were breathed into it.

Our guides were very knowledgeable “swamp-savvy women” who have taken thousands of people on this walk. Ellen, a board member, volunteer guide, and financial consultant in Miami, and Jessica, SFNPT Development Associate, educated us at every turn, and Ellen’s favorite saying, “Now, how cool is that??” became our motto for the day.

We experienced the cypress stands of Clyde Butcher fame in all their glory; cypress trees reaching to the sky, their roots holding hands underwater, their knees reaching above water.

Our National Park system is celebrating its 100th birthday.
The campaign is called Find Your Park

A major component of the SFNPT mission is to help connect people to their parks and the Find Your Park campaign has been a wonderful opportunity to further this goal. The SFNPT connects people to the parks in many ways, including fundraising to support education programs, enhancing visitor programs, and taking members on park outings.

Thanks to a grant from the SFNPT, every 6th grader in Collier County has an opportunity to visit Big Cypress National Preserve.

In the USA, we are blessed with an awe-inspiring National Park system. I encourage you to explore what Ken Burns calls: “America’s Best Idea” in his PBS series Pick Your Park and while you are at it, Join SFNPT and visit YOUR South Florida National Parks!

For more information on the South Florida National Park Trust, visit: www.southfloridaparks.org