Professional development designed to help teachers create curriculum using mobile technology to enhance place-based and inquiry-based applications for science education.
Join us for an adventure that will get you immersed in and acquainted with some of Florida’s wild residents. Our adventures take us through rivers, springs, forests, and out to the Gulf of Mexico to help participants learn about the life-giving resources the springs of Kings Bay provide to both human residents and wildlife.
When the water temperature of the Gulf of Mexico drop below 68 degrees F the West Indian Manatee comes into Kings Bay National Wildlife Refuge for seeking warmth is the constant 72 degree water temperatures. The largest congregations come in during the winter months, but there are some year-round residents in the bay too.
It is important to know that although the highlight of the trip will be snorkeling with manatees, the focus of the tour is the ecology of the spring shed that feeds into Kings’ Bay. Wildlife encounters are not 100 predictable and when we do have in water encounters with manatees we always practice passive observation.
- Experience the real Florida along the Nature Coast.
- Learn about Citrus County’s amazing springs and how people and animals depend on them for survival.
- Go kayaking in the wild Chassahowitzka River, Florida’s Amazon.
- Life-changing in water guided encounters snorkeling with wild manatees.
- A thrilling airboat ride over wetlands and through rivers to see wildlife not accessible by the prop boats.
- Take a walk on the wild side with naturalist-led hikes to learn about ecology of upland Hammock Forests.
- Pontoon boat cruise into the Gulf in search of dolphins at sunset.
- Visit to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park for a closer look at native Florida flora and fauna.
Meet Your Guides
President / Principle Trip Facilitator - Green Edventures
Tara Short is the President of Green Edventures and a Trip Facilitator. Tara has 17 years of experience in eco-tourism, guiding and educating students of all ages in the Americas, the Caribbean, and Iceland. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Natural Resource Management with an emphasis in Environmental Education/Interpretation. Tara has been a naturalist for the John G. Shedd Aquarium, a Ranger for the National Forest Service in Alaska, and a marine science educator for Wild Studies in the Bahamas. Tara is a snorkeling instructor, PADI Open Water Diver, Advanced Diver, Rescue Diver and has specialty certifications as Underwater Naturalist, Deep Diver, Multi-Level diver and Night Diver.
►Where do we stay?
The Plantation Resort on Crystal River. The Crystal River hotel is a beautiful 50-year-old, 237 acre eco-friendly resort offering comfortable accommodations and is surrounded by the natural springs of Kings Bay. The property includes free in room wifi, and a private classroom and dining area for our participants.
►Day 1: Welcome to the sunshine state!
Groups will fly into either Orlando or Tampa, Florida depending on the most economical flight options for groups. We will drive about 1.5-2 hours to the Florida’s Natural Coast. Move in. Orientation. Swimming. Dinner.
►Day 2: Kayaking on the Chassahowitzka River & Airboat Ride
Called by many, the Amazon of Florida, we will paddle up lazy streams meandering through breathtaking scenery on clear water. Chock full of wildlife, this is the best way to see dozens of bird species, and possibly elusive wildlife like river otters, alligators, deer, and manatees.
This is an adrenaline pumping 1.5 hour adventure. Lets go looking for more Florida wildlife. Maybe we will see a gator? Slide, twist and turn along the cedar, palm and mangrove covered islands, creeks and rivers. This ride takes you on a portion of Battle Creek, Petty Creek, Sam’s Bayou, the Little Homosassa River, Salt River and thru Shivers Bay. All of these are connected to the main Homosassa River and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. Then the tour continues thru the backwaters, estuaries and saltwater marsh past Indian shell mounds. Reach the shallow clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico and view the sponges, corals, fish and possibly dolphins.
Breakout Sessions & Informal Programs
►Day 3: Snorkeling with Manatees & Hike in the Hammocks
It’s an early start, but well worth it. After breakfast we will head to the Homosassa River for your first encounter with manatees. Your captain and first mate will take you out into the springs on a pontoon boat in search of manatees in the calm water of the Homosassa River. You pass by Monkey Island and see spider monkeys and learn about why monkeys are living on that island. Then the “hunt” begins. Once the manatees are spotted, your captain will anchor and everyone will get in the water for a life-changing snorkel with manatees.
Lunch at a restaurant in Homosassa.
Hammock Forest hike to learn about upland ecosystems, edible plants, and cultural history.
Breakout Sessions & Informal Programs.
►Day 4: Crystal River Kayaking & Manatee Snorkel & Sunset Cruise into to The Gulf of Mexico.
Kayak in Crystal River and snorkel in the blue water of the Three Sister’s Springs. There are always manatees to the bay and we will hop off of our kayaks and snorkel with them when the opportunity arises.
Lunch at a restaurant in Crystal River.
A perfect way to end the trip. View the Nature Coast in the Gulf of Mexico, the Crystal River or the Salt River, which is part of the St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve. We see dolphins 8 out of 10 times, so the chances are really good you will see them too.
►Day 5: Homossassa Wildlife Park & Departure
Homossassa Wildlife Park is a refuge has all orphaned or injured wildlife that represent Florida (and a few other interesting residents). This is a perfect place to learn to identify Florida birds, reptiles, and other wildlife to help gain a better understanding of this regions ecology.
Check out. Lunch. Group transfer to the airport.
Please note: The activities and schedule may change without notice as practical considerations arise during program development, or onsite for the safety of participants.
Inclusions & Exclusions
- All meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day.
- 4 nights lodging in double accommodations.
- 4.5 days of activities that explore the habitats of the Nature Coast.
- Group ground transpiration via buses, vans, and cars.
- Onsite logistics support by Green Edventures.
- Guided outdoor adventures led by a Florida Master Naturalist.
- Pedagogies utilizing digital and mobile technologies.
- Baggage fees.
- Special travel.
- $60.00 gratuity.
- Personal spending money.
- Travel insurance.
- Additional expenses at the resort not included in the program package.
All payments are non-refundable if cancelled by the participant. Participants are highly encouraged to purchase travel insurance to cover unforeseen circumstances that may interrupt or cancel the trip.