Wolves in Shark Valley

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Desiree Pico

Phi Beta Chi at Shark Valley on Feb. 3

Desiree Pico, Managing Editor

On Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, Wolves got a little taste of the outdoors on a field trip to one of Florida’s most iconic tourist destinations: the Everglades National Park. Accompanied by club sponsor Dr. Jose Almeida and Mrs. Ana Landa, nearly thirty upper-class members of Phi Beta Chi spent the day in Shark Valley riding bikes and walking on trails, being fully immersed in nature and wildlife they were learning about.

Phi Beta Chi, the Science Honor Society for TERRA’s upperclassmen, takes field trips every year to nature-related places such as Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden or the Everglades to expose students to the natural world around them. “We always take Phi Beta Chi to trips like this because it’s a group of a little bit older students, so they can appreciate things a little bit more than the younger ninth and tenth graders I normally teach would,” Almeida said.    

Despite being native Floridians, many students had never been to the Everglades, making this trip an entirely new experience. “I had never been to Shark Valley before, and I really wanted to know what it was like,” said junior Ana Ruas, “so I was excited to go and see it.” Starting with a fifteen-mile bike ride, students came very close to the wildlife there, particularly the sunbathing alligators on the side of the road. “It was really cool to see them so close-up,” she said.

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Although some would consider fifteen miles far too long of a distance to travel, others, like junior Jack Bailey, found it to be the best part of the trip. “My favorite part of the field trip was getting to ride through the relaxing environment,” he said. “It was really a nice experience out there.”

Senior Karina Vila said that it actually went by too quickly because of the fun they were having. “I love bicycling, and I’ve never been to Shark Valley before. Luckily, it wasn’t too sunny though during the bike ride, and there was a breeze the entire day, which made the fifteen miles less exhausting.”

Stopping to rest their legs after the fifteen miles, Phi Beta Chi enjoyed a picnic lunch under some trees, going on to explore the Everglades on foot afterward. Trekking through the unpaved roads of a trail, Almeida and Landa aided students in taking in the many faces of the Everglades. “I loved experiencing the wildlife in its natural habitat and listening to Dr. Almeida and Mrs. Landa tell us interesting facts about it,” said junior Elena Waechter. “Funny enough, the most interesting thing I saw was the alligator poop. In textbooks and classrooms you can learn about the animals and plants, but when you go there and experience it, you see it all.”

Those who went on this trip found it to be extremely memorable and a huge success overall, leaving many in anticipation to do it again next year. Almeida said, “I feel that this trip was very successful. We saw a lot of different plants and animals, and we all had a lot of fun out there.”