The Florida Center for Environmental Studies, in cooperation with SFWMD, has developed a field-based, interactive Education Program at DuPuis Nature Center that targets secondary students, teachers, adults, families and the local community. Community outreach events and lectures are held at the DuPuis Nature Center located at Gate 5.
A wealth of recreational activities awaits you at the DuPuis Management Area, a 21,875-acre property owned by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and purchased in 1986 through the Save Our Rivers program. DuPuis contains a vast landscape of pine flatwoods, wet prairies, marshes, and cypress domes.
For more information go to DuPuis Management Area at sfwmd.gov .
The Florida Freshwater Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) scientists work with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to manage and monitor the wildlife at DuPuis. Valerie Sparling has been with the FWC for 17 years as a Biological Scientist and leads all the wildlife studies conducted at DuPuis’ 21, 875 acre property. Valerie earned a B.S. from Rutgers University in Natural Resources Management in New Jersey. She continued her studies to earn a M.S. from the University of Georgia focusing on Wildlife Ecology.
Valerie’s favorite project is the Red Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) reintroduction and monitoring study. It has been the most rewarding because we have been able to reintroduce an endangered species into an area where it had disappeared. She also has a lot of fun flying in the helicopter during deer and eagle surveys. Valerie says that she loves getting out in the field to observe animals and how they interact with their habitats. She enjoys educating visitors about the natural resources found at DuPuis, so they are able to appreciate natural surroundings wherever they go.
Valerie’s advice for students interested in a career in wildlife biology is that it is very competitive. Employers are looking for people with good communication skills, as well as specialized field experience. Students should try to find jobs or volunteer positions while still in school, so they get a head start on discovering what interests them. They should try to meet people that could help guide them on their career path.
For more information about the Wildlife and RCW Research Studies that Valerie leads check: