Go Gator and Muddy the Water: Teaching and Doing Ethnobiology and Conservation

, John Richard - University of Florida
, Karen - University of Florida
, Jelena - University of Florida
, Marcus - University of Florida
, Margaret - University of Florida
, Richard - University of Florida

The Tropical Conservation and Development (TCD) Program at the University of Florida is an interdisciplinary graduate certificate program focused on conservation and sustainable livelihood improvement in the Global South. The curriculum pays equal attention to praxis, skills and theory and embraces collaborative learning. One of the required core courses is entitled Ethnoecology and Conservation. This paper describes field projects undertaken by students in the course in collaboration with Alachua Conservation Trust, a grassroots conservation non-profit organization. 3 existing conservation areas were selected and an ethnoecology evaluation was conducted for each one. For each site the class surveyed and described useful flora and fauna; explored past (both prehistoric and historic) human use and occupation of the area; and examined contemporary human interactions. The projects allowed students to engage in ethnobiological research while enhancing conservation in the region. The results will be used in educational outreach as well as interpretive exhibits.