2007 Coastal Living Awards: Education

Courtesy of Resource Rangers
Award-winning videos and hands-on fun make this Florida conservation program a hit.

Glenn Griffith introduces kids to nature and ensures they become friends for life. His mantra: "When it comes to our natural resources, don't be a stranger―be a Resource Ranger." As creator of this nonprofit environmental club in Pensacola, Florida, Glenn and a slew of volunteers use video, classroom, and hands-on learning to teach students how to protect shorelines. "Each lesson ends with what you can do to make a difference," Glenn says. "The idea is to start good habits early."

This program began in 2000 with videos starring Glenn as the Resource Ranger. The videos cover varying topics, from wetland depletion to recycling, and suggest everyday solutions. "Some material can be hard-core science, but kids understand it," Glenn says. "You just have to present it in a fun way."

Before receiving their official certificates and T-shirts, students participate in classroom activities, then move outdoors to learn about sea grass, the testing of ocean water, and shoreline planting. So far, 11 videos have been recorded, and weekly lessons are broadcast to six cable markets, reaching an estimated 500,000 people. "The program continues to grow," says project manager and executive producer Eleanor Godwin.

Each year, 4,000 new students, in grades four through seven, pledge to be Resource Rangers. "Our goal has always been to help someone outside of Florida get a [Resource Ranger] club in their area," Eleanor says. Anyone can be a Ranger, regardless of age. "The TV show is not just geared toward students," Glenn says. "We want Mom and Dad to get involved, too."

Eleanor says many participants have never been to the beach before becoming Rangers. "Last year a fifth-grade boy whispered to me, 'This is the most fun I have ever had,'" she says. "We are helping a new generation take care of the environment."

To sponsor or start a Rangers club, call 850/595-8910, ext. 226, or visit resourcerangers.org.

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