DEP Launches New LIFE Sites in Pinellas and Clay Counties, Bringing Statewide Total to 22

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Learning In Florida’s Environment  Program dedicated two new locations last week, one in Pinellas County at the Tampa Bay Watch, and a second in Clay County at the North Fork Leadership Center.

On May 28 middle school students in Pinellas County gathered at Tampa Bay Watch in the morning hours to listen to speeches from local school board officials, community leaders and Department representatives about the benefits of the new site and offering additional outdoor educational opportunities. Afterwards, they took part in laboratory experiments before moving on to Fort De Soto Park, where they conducted a massive sand dune restoration project. Over seven days, more than 300 students will execute the project, which will involve planting sea oats along dozens of acres down the coastline.

“Seeing students move from the laboratory to the research vessel and then to Fort De Soto Park to restore dunes all in one day was inspiring,” said Greg Ira, Director of the Department’s Office of Environmental Education. “Only through collaboration between schools and informal educators like the staff from Tampa Bay Watch and DEP can this be possible.”

On May 30 students in Clay County gathered at the North Fork Leadership Center to dedicate the 22nd LIFE site statewide. Students took part in various laboratory activities throughout the morning, focusing on one of the Department’s priorities of “getting the water right.” These activities involved testing the dissolved oxygen and sedimentation in local stormwater, an important issue as we head into the hurricane season. The morning was highlighted by outdoor water-rocket launches, teaching students about the principles of aerodynamics.

Since 2004, more than 5,000 future scientists and environmental stewards have participated in the LIFE program. The LIFE initiative established a systematic and statewide network of field-based, environmental-science programs that bring students out to public lands to learn science. The goals of the LIFE program are increased student achievement, teacher professional development in science, increased participation of underserved and under-represented populations and increased stewardship of public lands. For more information about the Department’s LIFE and other Office of Environmental Education programs, visit

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