Loggerhead Marinelife Center Celebrates its Second Hike2O for Equity in Outdoor Education
Our team at Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) successfully hosted its second annual Hike2O, which is aptly named for promoting the environmental stewardship of Florida’s fresh and saltwater systems with kids. Last weekend, backcountry backpackers hiked along the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail to raise awareness and funds so the next generation, who may not otherwise have the opportunity, can have a deeper connection with nature through outdoor education. Virtual participants also registered to hike at their desired location to support the worthwhile cause.
The returning hike welcomed new participants and several returning hikers. In-person hikers joined from all walks of life ranging from 25 to 74 years old, who gathered from spanning locations, including Naples, Miami, and Melbourne, FL., and all the way from Colorado. Event trail guides shared invaluable experience and knowledge with hikers on the trail despite various native languages, including English, Spanish and Portuguese. Campfire conversations discussed key environmental and educational inequities, specifically in outdoor accessibility and the potential for using the outdoors as a conduit to learn, grow and connect with others. All in-person and virtual participants were given or mailed, a hiker’s t-shirt, finisher’s pin, certificate, and other event goodies.
“It’s true that you protect what you love,” said LMC’s director of education, Hannah Campbell. “The money raised by these dedicated hikers will forge outdoor education opportunities for more children to fall in love with our natural environment.”
Through the 2021-2022 school year, funds raised from this year’s Hike2O event will support approximately 3,200 students’ participation in our conservation and outdoor education programming. The goal is to expose more children to the wonders and importance of our natural spaces, with a special focus on the ocean and coastal systems. The Center will specifically help underserved and underrepresented groups into the outdoors from Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay, Okeechobee, and Indiantown schools.
“Many of us have received the benefits of being out in the wilderness for adventure and respite, especially during these challenging times,” said Campbell. “But the disparity between those who have reaped the benefits compared to those who are nature-deficit and unfamiliar with the environment is glaring.”
In-kind community sponsors for this year’s event included Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, Friends of Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the Loxahatchee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association, FYCCN’s Everglades Youth Conservation Camp, and Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation. We also extend our thanks to our ‘local outdoor co-op’ REI – Boca Raton for serving as the “packet pick-up hosts” and providing participant giveaways.
Hop on the trail in 2022! LMC is already on the move to find partners and sponsors for the third Hike2O event. Our staff anticipates to host next year’s backcountry benefit on Friday, March 4 through Sunday, March 6, 2022. Visit marinelife.org to learn more about becoming a partner or sponsor. For general participants, registration will go live for Hike2O on November 1, 2021.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is a nonprofit sea turtle research, rehabilitation, and educational institution that promotes the conservation of ocean ecosystems with a focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. The Center features an on-site hospital, research laboratory, educational exhibits, and aquariums, and also operates the Juno Beach Pier, which hosts world-class angling and sightseeing. Situated on one of the world’s most important sea turtle nesting beaches, LMC is open daily and hosts over 350,000 guests free-of-charge each year. The Center’s conservation team works with 90 local and international organizations across six continents to form partnerships and share conservation initiatives and best practices that are core to its mission of ocean conservation. The Center is expanding and has launched its Waves of Progress capital expansion campaign, designed to accelerate and amplify LMC’s conservation and education impact. When complete, the facility will offer one of the world’s most advanced and unique experiences for guests and scientific partners. For more information, visit www.marinelife.org or call (561) 627-8280.
Public Relations and Engagement Specialist