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Florida teachers get to be kids again at UF Plant Camp

By: Dehlia Albrecht, 352-273-3665;

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While parents are getting ready to send their kids off to camps, two dozen teachers will prepare for their own summer adventure.

On June 12, teachers from across the state will travel to Gainesville for the weeklong, annual in-service workshop Plant Camp hosted by the Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative. And, just like their students, they’ll be doing a lot of “campy” activities including hikes in the woods, learning about the local flora and fauna, exploring ponds and lakes for aquatic plants and critters, and even participating in theatrical skits.

Launched 11 years ago, the initiative is a collaborative outreach effort by the University of Florida/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Invasive Plant Management Section.

Working with dozens of teachers throughout the state, more than 70 lessons, activities and audio-visual presentations have been produced for upper elementary, middle and high school students. Materials correlate to Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and Common Core State Standards and support learning skill-based science in a real-world context.

Plant Camp is the first event of its kind to provide such intensive in-service training for Florida teachers on the subject of aquatic and upland invasive plants. Attendees compete for the limited number of spaces available for this popular professional development opportunity, and are selected by a committee of UF/IFAS CAIP staff, based on evidence of interest and a commitment to sharing what they learn with students and colleagues.

Faculty from UF, state park biologists, administrators from FWC’s Invasive Plant Management Section and plant managers from the private sector contribute as presenters and instructors, providing a rare behind-the-scenes look at natural resource management issues in the state of Florida. The goal is to give teachers the inspiration and confidence to share their new knowledge with students and colleagues upon return to the classroom.

Upper elementary, middle and high school teachers interested in attending Plant Camp next year can email to be added to the mailing list and notified when applications are circulated in mid-January.


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.