During his term of service, Ryder worked with the Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension to help facilitate their Learning in Florida’s Environment program (LIFE). LIFE gives elementary and middle school students the opportunity to explore Florida’s unique ecology. It was Sarasota County Schools’ first year with the program, and Ryder had a hands-on role in authoring teaching materials, developing the curriculum and having fun with students eager to explore Florida’s state parks.
“We brought them to Myakka River State Park to show [students] a freshwater ecosystem, Oscar Scherer State Park to show them an uplands environment and to Lemon Bay Park to show them a coastal environment,” Ryder said.
At each one of these locations, the students participate in three different labs that help them develop the practical skills to succeed in science class.
The Sarasota County LIFE program was recognized by Florida Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals. The program won the 2018 award for Outstanding 4-H/Youth Development program.
“I was fortunate enough to represent Florida State Parks in our partnership with the UF/IFAS extension offices and to present this program to the other extension agents in the state,” Ryder said.