One of the most extraordinary animal sightings for Florida natives is spotting a Florida panther in the wild. Few people are lucky enough to have the rare opportunity to see this elusive creature at all and, unfortunately, many sightings occur on the roadways after a panther has been hit by a car. With fewer than 100 Florida panthers left on Earth, it is one of the rarest and therefore most critically endangered species on the planet today.
Seeing a Florida panther is exhilarating but also sad, too. The thought that our children may never have the chance to witness its strength and majestic beauty, or distantly experience its timid and solitary nature, whether in captivity or anywhere else, is an overwhelming thought. By raising panther awareness through educational and volunteer programs, students of today can help protect Florida panthers for generations to come.
Homeschoolers who want to study Florida panthers will be interested in several very comprehensive sources of information that are available free just by accessing the Internet. These include the Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge, Big Cat Rescue, and FPL’s environment pages about the Florida panther.
But perhaps the best overall resource for homeschooling families is the Florida PantherNet, where pages and pages of lesson plans and activities for all ages (including middle and high school) can be downloaded and printed free. Lessons on PantherNet include activities like:
- Panther Scavenger Hunt
- Solve the case!
- Animal Masks
- Whose Range is It?
- Panther Food Web
and many more. Students will also enjoy sending panther e-cards, printing panther calendars and coloring pages, and even downloading panther ring-tones on still more fun panther-related sites.
Meanwhile, families can continue to help protect the Florida panther using these simple strategies (taken from FPL):
driving carefully on the roads in panther territory
respecting the needs of wildlife while hiking, camping or hunting
becoming informed about environmental issues, joining a conservation group and letting your elected officials know that saving the Florida panther is important to you, and
purchasing a Florida panther license plate to help support conservation efforts and show that you care.
- The Olympics
- Car racing
- Ponce de Leon