Miss Florida talks Everglades restoration with students

Jesse Hollett
Posted 12/7/16

ORANGE PARK – Clay Virtual Academy students received a lesson on the Florida Everglades Tuesday morning from the state’s newly crowned Miss Florida.

Courtney Sexton, the Kingsley Lake native …

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Miss Florida talks Everglades restoration with students

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Clay Virtual Academy students received a lesson on the Florida Everglades Tuesday morning from the state’s newly crowned Miss Florida.

Courtney Sexton, the Kingsley Lake native elevated to stardom in July when she won the state’s most prominent beauty pageant, gave students all the knowledge they would need to save the Everglades.

Human interaction through pollution, redirection of water flow and de-habitation has resulted in the destruction of half of the Everglades.

Invasive species, such as the Burmese Python, have also contributed to loss of wildlife. There are currently more than 60 threatened or endangered species currently living in the Everglades.

Congress authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan in 2000 as a plan to “restore, preserve, and protect the south Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection.”

“The Everglades needs us because of threats,” Sexton said to the children. “Things that are hurting the environment, we could talk for hours on end about it.”

Winners of the Miss Florida pageant settle into their role knowing they will eventually volunteer much of their next year educating children on one cause or another. For the last six years, the Miss Florida Organization has collaborated with The Everglades Foundation to raise awareness about the problems facing the Everglades to classrooms all over the state.

It appears to work as well – the students are more engaged once “someone with a crown” walks into the room.

“I think this was pretty engaging for them, there was a lot of interaction,” said Gayle Weaver,

distance learning specialist with Clay Virtual Academy. “You could see hands going up, they wanted to answer they wanted to have that engagement.”

For students, this was a chance to not only learn about the newly-crowned Miss Florida, but to learn about the most pressing issues facing a precious Florida landmark. For Weaver, however, the lesson was a bit of a reunion. Weaver taught Sexton 6th grade math in Bradford County.

Sexton’s goal is speak to 20 classes and she’s booked more than 20 schools already.

“I’ve learned as I do one presentation, a teacher or a parent shares about what the kids learned and how much fun they had and then another school books me. It’s a great cause and I think that’s why it’s easy to book the teachers and the parents and the school.”

Sexton will also assist Congressional representatives and senators in lobbying for further expansion of Everglades restoration. It’s personal to her now, as well. She attended a 12-day bus tour with the Everglades Foundation to familiarize herself with the terrain and the problems affecting the region.

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