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Learning in Florida's Environment Quick Links

LIFE Program

The Learning in Florida’s Environment or LIFE program is a statewide program of the Department of Environmental Protection that brings middle school students out to public conservation lands for science-based environmental education. The goals of the LIFE program include increasing student achievement in science, strengthening teacher capacity for inquiry-based instruction, and preparing students for future studies and careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
Since 2004, over 21,000 students and teachers have participated in hands-on field labs in more than 22 different state parks and other public conservation areas. The LIFE program has produced over 80 unique, outdoor, environmental science field labs following the “Five-E” Instructional Delivery Model. The program follows eleven guiding principles which include:

  1. Long-term partnerships: establish a Partnership Agreement between conservation area and school for lasting programs (e.g., Build, Operate, Transfer, Sustain or BOTS model)
  2. Prioritize underserved groups: focus on schools where the need is the greatest; use cultural competency to tailor programs (e.g., Cultural Competency Self-Assessment)
  3. Collaborative content development: Field experiences are co-designed and co-delivered by teachers and site staff/rangers
  4. Inquiry-based learning: Labs use an abbreviated version of the 5E’s instructional delivery method: Engage; Explore; Explain
  5. Multiple field experiences: No one-time “field trips.” Multiple field experiences that allow students to develop skills and experience in conducting field investigations.
  6. Integrated teacher training: Teacher training takes place before, during and after the field experiences.
  7. Subject integration (STEM): Provide real-world opportunities for students to integrate all subjects.
  8. Promote the use of real-world technology: Emphasize real-world outdoor technology (e.g., WeatherSTEM; GPS)
  9. Service learning & restoration: combine learning with community service often through restoration projects (e.g., sea oat planting)
  10. Comprehensive assessment: Assessment takes place at different levels (e.g., Pre/posttest; end of year online survey; performance assessment)
  11. Promote physical activity: Promote and document benefits of physical activity associated with field experiences (e.g., use of MyTracks)

Possibly the biggest success of the LIFE program has been the establishment of a consistent program model for environmental education within the department and beyond. The program’s core set of guiding principles establish continuity from one site to the next, while allowing content to be tailored to the specific needs of participating teachers and the unique attributes of each field site.
These guiding principles include multiple field visits during the year, content alignment to state standards, emphasis on field based observation and inference, long-term partnership agreements, collaborative content development and delivery, subject integration, systematic assessment practices, a focus on underserved and/or underrepresented populations, and the integration of service learning.

For information on volunteering or interning with the Office of Environmental Education and The Learning in Florida’s Environment (LIFE) program please contact:
Jackie Zimmerman (850) 245-2145
3900 Commonwealth Blvd MS #30
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Protecting Florida's Water


LIFE Program

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The LIFE program is member of
the Hands on the Land Program.

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The LIFE Program supports the Mission of the Get Outdoors Florida! coalition: Engaging communities, families and individuals in outdoor experiences to achieve healthier lifestyles and sustain Florida’s natural resources.

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Last updated: June 22, 2015

  Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Environmental Education, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 30   Tallahassee, Florida 32399  
850-245-2100 (phone) / 850-245-2159 (fax)

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