Join us as we gather online to share best practices in Prek12 education, learn new Environmental activities, explore professional development opportunities, honor changemakers in our field, and discover exciting new research!   Registration includes a chance to win exciting door prizes from our sponsors, and meals during the event.

The LEEF Annual Conference on Friday March 22- Sunday March 24 includes presentations from over 30 presenters and a keynote address from Don Philpott, President of the Wekiva Wilderness Trust.

Click Here for Full Conference Program

Registration is now closed for this conference.

Step 1:  Register for the conference and choose your lodging here.

  • More info about lodging options can be found at the Wekiwa Springs State Park brochure, found here.  
  • You will need to first register, then choose lodging, in 2 separate transactions.  Click "Add another registration" to choose lodging.
  • Camping will need to be booked directly on the Wekiwa Springs State Park website.

Special dietary needs requests and lodging roommate requests can be made on the registration form, or by emailing leef.florida (at) after you complete registration. 

Step 2: ....don't forget to add Fri/Sun experiences!  Workshop and Field Trip information and registration is available here

Field Trip and Workshop Descriptions

Keynote Speaker - Don Philpott, President Wekiva Wilderness Trust 

Don Philpott has over 40 years' experience as an award-winning writer, journalist, marketing consultant, public relations practitioner and passionate campaigner for conservation and the environment.  Don Philpott is now a full-time writer and volunteer. He has more than 250 books published on a wide range of subjects. When not writing Don is a volunteer at Wekiwa Springs State Park where he helps run the nature center and interpretive programs, both within the park and as part of the outreach program. Because of his expedition experience he also teaches ‘Edible Florida’ and ‘Basic Survival’ courses throughout Florida. He is President of the Wekiva Wilderness Trust, the park’s Citizen Support Organization, a director of the Florida State Parks Foundation, and vice president of the National Association of State Parks Foundations. He is a Florida Master Naturalist (FMN) and an instructor with the University of Florida’s FMN program teaching classes in Seminole County, FL. He is also a Florida Master Gardener and a Certified Interpretive Guide. In 2023, he was awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteer service, having logged more than 30,000 hours with Florida state parks.

LEEF has NOAA B-WET funding available to assist full registration and lodging costs - apply directly through the registration page, and more information will be sent to you.  Ripple Scholarships are also available to assist with registration costs.  If interested in applying, please select that option in the registration menu and more information will be sent to you.

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The conference schedule is subject to change.


Alexa Simeone, Lele Art Lab. Printed Oceans. Session SummaryWe highlight a shift from traditional learning materials, utilizing trash as our medium, encouraging participants to test, unplug, create, and explore. Through our powerful maker lab experience, we aim to reconnect individuals with the environment using a creative and innovative approach. The intention is to recharge participants' commitment to environmental sustainability and awareness, inviting them to think outside the box and create art for the purpose of a greener planet and cleaner ocean.

Amanda Purnell, Friends of the Everglades. Everglades Learning Exploration Kits. Session Summary: The Young Friends of the Everglades program teaches children about the Everglades, ignites passion for nature and conservation, and fosters a lifelong love for the environment. We empower youth to be informed change-makers in their communities and beyond. Now educators can bring an Everglades experience to their classrooms with our Everglades Learning Exploration Kits - packed with books, maps, games, and more! Our lessons are designed to achieve cross-curricular learning standards in 4th and 5th grade - at no cost to educators! In South Florida, our programming also includes interactive presentations from Friends of the Everglades educators. 

Kasondra Miller, Action for the Climate Emergency.  Our Climate, Our Future:  Have the Talk. Session Summary: This lesson will prepare learners to have an authentic and effective climate conversation by exploring the psychology behind having climate conversations, role-playing, and using inquiry-based models of communication to have these conversations. The foundation of this lesson is based on shifting the tendency to lead with ‘telling’ about the issue to listening and engaging thoughtfully with responses, so that the focus is on mutual understanding, not explicit persuasion. The activities in this lesson are scaffolded and are based on research in motivational interviewing, psychosocial research, and neuroscience. Participants will be provided with a Lesson Plan to utilize this lesson in other settings.

Bethan Gillett, UF/IFASFishing for Success and UF's School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Science. Session Summary, The Fishing for Success program "hooks" youth and their families on aquatic ecology and conservation through recreational angling. Discover what opportunities we have to offer you and your students.

Bonnie Eaton, Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots. Youth Action Through Roots & Shoots. Session Summary: Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots youth action program recently opened an office in the Tampa Bay region but will also serve as a resource statewide. The mission of Roots & Shoots is to empower young people to affect positive change in their communities. The program offers resources, training, and support for youth groups to develop community service projects benefiting people, other animals, and the environment we all share. Come and learn more about Roots & Shoots and walk through the process of planning a Roots & Shoots project.

Brenda Breil, PK Yonge Developmental Research School.   Engineering Solutions to Runoff Problems on a K12 Campus. Session Summary: Participants will be led through the engineering design process as they apply it to solving campus runoff problems. We will consider reliable resources and how to help students navigate the process to produce their own engineering plan. The goal is for educators to become comfortable approaching environmental problems from an engineering point of view so students can see themselves as engineers that can solve environmental problems.

Caitlin Robison, Florida Master Naturalist Program.  Environmental Education in Action:  Opportunities with the Florida Master Naturalist Program. Session Summary: Are you looking for new ways to augment your environmental education programs? Does your organization share a commitment to preserving and protecting natural resources? Interested in gaining knowledge and hands-on experiences with local flora, fauna, and conservation in your region? Join us to learn more about how to get engaged with the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) as participants and instructors to support the conservation ethic in our beautiful state! This presentation will describe the program's structure, pedagogy, and reach since its inception in 2001. We will also discuss how to get involved with FMNP courses as either a participant or as part of our instructor network. The FMNP is an adult education program through the University of Florida IFAS Extension and provided by participating organizations in over 30 counties across the state.

Caroline Nickerson, SciStarter. Citizen Science for Educators:  Exploring the Natural World. Session Summary: Participants will emerge with an understanding of how to facilitate citizen science projects in classroom and non-classroom settings, and even engage in an outdoor demo. If time allows, we'll explore the data submitted after engaging in an outdoor activity.

Claudia Rowe, Lake County Water Authority. What happens above effects below! Session Summary: Demonstration of how to implement an Enviroscape Model and an Aquifer Model to explain what happens above effects below, our aquifer.  This session is interactive with discussion, demo of models and resources. 

Danielle Ivey, Creative Nature Adventures. Including Nature Journaling in Your Lessons. Session Summary:  We all want to make our students environmental education meaningful and memorable. By introducing nature journaling to your activities students can make a closer connection to the world around them by using words, pictures, and numbers in a nature journal. This activity allows students to slow down, think critically and creatively while learning about the world around them.

Dawn Miller-Walker, ScienceEye and Environmental Conservation Organization.  Don't Rub Me the Wrong Way and Leaf Me Alone.  Session Summary: Explore the outdoors using leaves! This presentation begins with a brief introduction to the importance of leaves and then uses a dichotomous key to identify different plant species, fostering an appreciation for biodiversity and ecological awareness. We will also discuss different ways to keep your leaves longer if you can't pick them fresh. I'll try not to "rub you the wrong way" and I definitely won't "leaf you alone" on this hands-on activity!

Dawn Miller-Walker, ScienceEye and Environmental Conservation Organization.   Aquatic Species Collection Workshop

Dustin Angell, Archbold Biological Station.  360 Videography and VR Storytelling. Session Summary: Can plugging in to immersive storytelling content help students connect with nature? This presentation is both an introduction and a discussion of 360 videography and virtual reality storytelling. Attendees will learn the basics of filming and editing 360 video and photography. Dustin will also show examples of 360 and virtual reality already being used in environmental education.

Erin Peel & Sydney Jordan, University of South Florida Libraries.   The Florida Environment and Natural History Collection:  Revitalizing Environmental Education by Revisiting the Past. Session Summary: The University of South Florida Libraries’ Florida Environment and Natural History (FLENH) collection is a strategic collecting area with the purpose of preserving and digitizing books and historical records related to Florida’s unique and rapidly changing environment. Resources cover a wide variety of topics, such as ornithology, wildlife conservation, land management, watersheds, species decline, citizen environmental activism, and changes to Florida’s lands and climate over time. This presentation will provide an overview of the collections within FLENH and illustrate how the library has collaborated to contextualize and transform these historical documents into openly accessible, relevant, discoverable, and approachable educational resources for a variety of audiences. The presenters will share stories of success, as well as ways in which Florida educators can utilize USF Libraries resources for learning and climate activism.

Heather Skaza Acosta, FL Gulf Coast University.  Florida-Focused Climate Change Education:  Resources and Tools for All Learning Environments (Workshop)

Heather Skaza Acosta, FL Gulf Coast University.  Growing Environmental Literacy Through Farm-to-School Education in Southwest Florida. Session Summary: Since 2021 FGCU and the School District of Lee County have collaborated to support teachers and students in secondary schools in the development of school gardens through a USDA-funded Farm to School program. School gardens include hydroponic systems, raised beds, farm animals, and more. Intended outcomes are increased food and environmental literacy, as well as STEM identity and intention for participating students and teachers. In this session, FGCU and School District of Lee County partners will share Farm to School program features, the supports provided by both organizations, and the challenges and highlights from two years of implementation. Attendees can expect to learn how to apply lessons learned in their own school districts for productive university/school district partnerships in school gardening.

Jim McGinity, Learning Gate Community School.  Growing Environmental Scientists:  Tips for Introducing Students to Field Methods. Session Summary: During this presentation, Jim will share a few of the “hands on” activities he uses with his students (K - 5th grades) to introduce them to a variety of environmental professions. Everything from aquatic, macro-invertebrates, entomological tools, herping tricks, dendrology and conducting migratory bird band research on the school’s natural campus will be discussed.

Jim McGinity, Florida Avian Conservation.  Florida Young Birders Club Takes Flight. Session Summary: This interactive presentation will share the journey of the club from a few local bird walks to a state-wide club with chapters in six different parts of the state (and growing)! We will cover the history of young birders clubs around the country, the activities and will wrap up with a bird quiz at the end to test your bird ID skills.

John Pipoly, Broward County Parks and Recreation. Bilingual Peer-Reviewed Elementary Resources for After School Programs in Underserved Communities. Session Summary: We explore the urgent need for reinforcement of science pedagogy among Pre-K to 12 school children, especially those for whom English may not be their first language or for the desperately underserved minorities living in our unincorporated areas within metropolitan areas. Many of these areas are not only food deserts, but academic ones as well, with virtually no support for the students at home and complicated scholastic conditions. We first completed the series for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in English and Spanish. In our third year, we can report that 299 students raised their science grades from below a “C” to a “B” or above, largely through the efforts of collegiate volunteer interns who related wonderfully to the students even though their majors were health sciences and others. There are several new initiatives starting that should give us complete Pre-K to 12 coverage by the end of 2025.

John Martinez, Millennia Gardens Eco-Club.  Dirt Therapy. Session Summary: Getting kids outside in the dirt (away from technology) is the key to healthy mental health.

John Scarbrough, Advent Health University.  What We Have Lost:  Rediscovering our Hippie Roots and the Depth of Environmental Education. Session Summary: Environmental Education grew out of a sense of environmental crisis present in the 1960s and 70s and was an outgrowth of an environmental movement that was generally regarded as counterculture. Practitioners were not always scientific or sophisticated but had a deep and simple wisdom and an appreciation of nature. The focus was on the earth and the interconnectedness of nature. We need to reconnect with these origins and appreciate the reason for environmental education.  I want the educational community (at large) to reconnect with these beginnings. In a sense " get back to nature".

Johnathan BySura, Out of Door Academy. Meaningful Watershed Education as a Means to Teach Middle Grades Science in Florida. Session Summary: The presentation is based on an approach to teach middle grades science through the idea of meaningful watershed experiences at ODA. By allowing students to develop a responsibility and passion for the outdoors, teaching science and environmental concepts becomes not only engaging and fun but is also meaningful and long lasting. By using a bottom-up approach, I get students away from books, classrooms, and technology and into the outdoors for observation and data collection. This gives students a different perspective on learning and service. Ultimately, by understanding the interconnected aspects of wild places beginning with simple identification and classification in 6th grade, students are more inclined to make responsible choices on issues dealing with Florida plants, animals, and water resources in the future.

Keara Clancy, Alachua Conservation Trust.  From the Classroom to the Creek:  The CrEEKside Environmental Ed for Kids Program. Session Summary: The Creekside Environmental Ed for Kids (CrEEK) Program serves 1,200 students from underserved communities annually for a day of free-to-access outdoor learning at Little Orange Creek Nature Park. Students embrace the role of scientists for the day through activities such as catching bugs with a sweep net in the grass fields, dip-netting for invertebrates in the creek, going on guided nature hikes to identify different species of plants and animals, and cataloging all of their discoveries in their science journal. These activities are paired with guidance and discussion with a diverse array of ecologists and environmental educators to change perceptions about who scientists are. Join us to learn more about the CrEEK Program, and how we are working to empower the next generation of conservationists and scientists!

Kirsi Johnson, St. Lucie Environmental Resources Department.  Watersheds and Wildlife. Session Summary: In the St. Lucie Watersheds & Wildlife program, students from an underserved, local elementary school travelled to the Oxbow Eco-Center and Preserve to experience an immersive, educational program and outdoor experience. The presentation will share program concepts and how they were conveyed to students in meaningful ways, focusing on native, exotic and invasive species and basic needs of living things.

Lauren Butcher, Grassy Waters Preserve.  Prescription for Nature: Why Being Outside is so Good for Us. Session Summary: Still suffering from post-Covid burn out? Are you so busy connecting kids with nature that you forget to fill your own well? Re-discover some of the many research-supported ways that spending time in nature improves our physical and emotional wellbeing – and experience several guided activities that you can add to your educator toolbox to help yourself and others “unplug, reconnect, and recharge” in the natural world.

Lori Nicholson, St Marks National Wildlife Refuge.  Conservation Escape Room. Session Summary: This immersive activity that allows participants to experience the National Wildlife Refuge System in a new and challenging way. Throughout this physical adventure game, players solve a series of puzzles and riddles to help save species from extinction within a set time limit. Very interactive activity that has participants Gather, Create and Solve while learning about Conservation.

Monika Moorman, Broward County Public Schools.  Nature Narratives: The Intersection of Science and Art in Environmental Journaling. Session Summary: Join us for 'Nature Narratives,' a session where we delve into both digital and traditional journaling in the realm of environmental storytelling. Discover the purpose and myriad benefits of merging scientific observation with creative expression. Whether pen meets paper or pixels on a screen, explore the unique qualities of each method in crafting your environmental journal. Uncover the transformative power of interdisciplinary journaling, fostering a deeper connection with science and an enriched appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.

Patricia Leon, Miami Nature PLAYSchool.  Forest Kindergarten: How Less is More; Fostering Leadership Skills During Early Childhood. Session Summary: Forest Kindergarten is about childhood, how adults become role models and mentors of young children to help a generation to find their inner motivation to take care about the planet instead to impart a lesson about it.

FYCCN, WILD Kingdom - Project WILD & Aquatic WILD Combo (Workshop) 

Tabitha Stadler, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean.  Transforming Environmental Education to Create Large-Scale Behavior Change Necessary to Save the Planet.  Session Summary: Environmental education (EE) aims to protect Earth’s natural resources for current and future generations through promoting awareness, knowledge, skill building, and behavioral changes so that audiences take action on environmental issues. Despite this aim, we are experiencing unprecedented destruction of the natural environment, leading to an unraveling of ecosystem services supporting human existence. Why haven't we had a greater impact and how can we have one going forward? In this presentation, ideas are shared to transform the EE profession to have a greater positive impact on the fate of the planet in the future. Various factors, such as historical teachings, changes in communication and marketing, and a lack of strategy and measurement, are explored to uncover why there seems to be less positive impact than we hoped when we became environmental educators.

Schedule Overview

Friday, March 22, 2024

8:00 AM                      Conference Registration and Room Check in, available through 9 pm


9:00 AM - 12:00 PM  Workshops and Field Trips


12:30 PM - 1:30 PM  Lunch 

1:00 PM - 4:00 PM    Workshops and Field Trips

5:30 PM                        Welcome Dinner 

7:00 PM - late              Fireside storytelling & Film Viewing: Path of the Panther 

    Saturday, March 23, 2024

    8:00 AM -12:30 PM Conference Registration and Room Check-In

    8:00 AM                      Breakfast 

    9:00 AM                    Silent Auction Open until 5:15

    9:00 AM      Concurrent Sessions

    10:00 AM                    Concurrent Sessions

    11:00 AM                    Concurrent Sessions

    12:00PM - 1:00PM   Lunch 

    1:00PM                       Concurrent Sessions

    2:00PM                       Concurrent Sessions

    3:00PM - 4:00PM      Memorial Tree Planting

    4:00PM                       Concurrent Sessions

    5:30PM                       Dinner

    6:30 PM - late            Keynote, Member Meeting, Awards & Social 

    Sunday, March 24, 2024

    8:00AM                        Continental Breakfast 

    9:00 AM - 12:00 PM Workshops 

    11:00 AM-12:00 PM Concurrent Session

    12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Board Meeting

    Sponsors and Partners

    Founded in 1983, the League of Environmental Educators in Florida is the professional association for individuals and organizations dedicated to the cause of environmental education in Florida. We are the state affiliate for North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), an organization that brings together those interested in the study and enjoyment of our natural world and one that has promoted excellence in environmental education throughout North America and the world for over four decades.  

    The League of Environmental Educators in Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

    © 2021by the League of Environmental Educators in Florida.

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