Sunday, January 6, 2019

Photography, children and protecting the environment in Palm Beach County.

Please Note: An upcoming event on Thursday, January 24th at the Findlay Galleries on Worth Ave. in the Town of Palm Beach.

Later in this blog post is news published in The Lake Worth Herald about an expedition last Fall into the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge west of Boynton Beach for environmental education by science experts from the Everglades Foundation and an “[E]ducator to discuss photography and camera usage from the Norton Museum of Art and in-class discussion and instruction from Sacred Heart School teachers.”

The result from this project will be on display at the Findlay Galleries, the top 24 photographs taken by the students at Sacred Heart.

For more information about, “The Everglades: Through the Eyes of Children Photo Project” contact Milka Santos at the Sacred Heart elementary school: call 561-582-2242; email:

And on this topic of children and the environment, what follows is a blog post from last November about Mr. Rick Clegg, a true visionary: Realizing the potential of our natural spaces and Nature-Deficit Disorder (NDD).

NDD is explained later in this blog post. But be forewarned. NDD is controversial.

The powers-that-be in the fields of psychology and education refuse to accept the premise that the outdoors can treat behavior problems in children related to overuse of technology, smartphones and the lure of social media. However, Richard Louv in his 2005 treatise titled, “Last Child in the Woods” disagrees. Read more about Louv and NDD below.

In short, draw your own conclusions.

And one more thing. . .

Before we proceed this is crucially important. At the end of this blog post is a map showing the location of the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter and the Arthur R. Marshall (ARM) Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge further to the south.

Although these two wildlife areas in Palm Beach County have “Loxahatchee” in their name they are both very different natural spaces and located in very different places in Palm Beach County.

These two public parks are often confused by the public:

  • The Loxahatchee River is located in northern PBC and is part of the County Park system. It is located to the south of Martin County and is east of Lake Okeechobee.
  • The ARM Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge is a national park located west of Boynton Beach in Central PBC and southeast of Lake Okeechobee.

Just by coincidence, later in this blog post are excerpts from an article in this week’s Lake Worth Herald about students from the Sacred Heart School who went on an exploration of the ARM. Sacred Heart is located in the City of Lake Worth. To learn about their curriculum click on this link.

And also by coincidence. . .

Datelined Nov. 20th, 2018, is this news from journalist Hannah Morse at The Palm Beach Post about the Loxahatchee River in the Town of Jupiter. Mr. Rick Clegg is cited by Morse:

The Loxahatchee River, teeming with alligators, otters and birds, offers a new exploration option for Jupiter Outdoor Center customers.

“We’re very excited,” said owner Rick Clegg. “We feel we have the two best locations in all of Palm Beach County for paddling.”

Aside from rentals, Jupiter Outdoor Center also offers kids outdoor adventure camp [emphasis added] and guided tours at Riverbend.

Now to the news in the Lake Worth Herald headlined, “Sacred Heart Students Explore Wildlife Refuge”. Two excerpts:

LAKE WORTH — Fifty-two students in the fourth and seventh grades at Sacred Heart School had a chance to explore the Everglades and its unique environment, through the lens of a camera. On November 7, the students were taken to the Arthur R. Marshall National Wildlife Refuge in western Palm Beach County, [emphasis added] with photography mentors, teachers and parent chaperones for a hands-on nature experience.

Each student was provided with a digital camera and on-site additional photography equipment. Afterwards, students roughly edited their photos to have one printed to take home and then they submitted their photo cards for judging by professional photographers.

This annual Sacred Heart School program, The Everglades: Through the Eyes of Children Photo Project is a community effort working with The Everglades Foundation, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and the Norton Museum of Art.

and. . .

The Project begins earlier in the Fall, with environmental education provided by science experts from the Everglades Foundation, an educator to discuss photography and camera usage from the Norton Museum of Art and in-class discussion and instruction from Sacred Heart School teachers.

The Photo Project program culminates with a private, gallery reception and photo exhibition at Findlay Galleries, Palm Beach, January 24, 2019.

James Borynack, chairman and CEO of Findlay Galleries is hosting the event for Sacred Heart School and will display the top 24 photographs and recognize the first, second and third place winners.

For more information about, “The Everglades: Through the Eyes of Children Photo Project” contact Milka Santos at Sacred Heart: call 561-582-2242; email:

Now back to Mr. Rick Clegg, Nature-Deficit Disorder, educating children about the natural environment and. . .

Promoting ecotourism, boosting visits by families, young adults and children to our County and national parks.

Question: Could making PBC the world leader in the treatment of Nature-Deficit Disorder be the answer?

Please note. A disclaimer:

NDD is not recognized in DSM-5 and has been criticized by malcontents high up in tall buildings as a misdiagnosis that NDD is a “problematic contemporary environmental discourse that can obscure and mistreat the problem.”

NDD was first coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 classic “Last Child in the Woods” meaning that children as reported in Wikipedia, “[A]re spending less time outdoors resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems” such as careening on skateboards into parked cars and walking around in circles texting.

However, Louv claims that causes for the phenomenon (NDD) include “parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the lure of electronic devices.” Bolstering Louv’s claims is research demonstrating the contrast between the declining number of park visits in America and increased use of electronic media by children.

Draw your own conclusions about NDD but err on the side of promoting and encouraging more visits to public parks.

Please pause here.

Yes. The ‘disclaimer’ above is a little tongue-in-cheek with a slight dab of satire.


Could Mr. Clegg be on to something? This same businessman cites an actual published book titled, Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, a 2005 best-seller by Richard Louv. Could our public parks in PBC be used as a draw nationwide for treatment of NDD in children and young adults and increasing ecotourism as well?

Continue reading and you decide.

Getting more visitors and tourists to visit our County and national parks in PBC has been a problem for a very long time. The Loxahatchee Sierra Club is one group that has been out in the lead trying to solve this problem at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge located in suburban Boynton Beach.

Now back to the Loxahatchee River in
northern Palm Beach County.

Here is news from business journalist Alexandra Clough datelined August 28th and headlined, “Jupiter businessman Rick Clegg pursues his passion for the outdoors”:

Clegg, the owner of Jupiter Outdoor Center . . . will tap into Palm Beach County’s growing eco-tourism industry by offering guided tours, including bird-watching tours at Riverbend Park.

“Our mission is to create a convenient, safe and fun way for people to experience nature,” Clegg said. “We’ll be giving people more of a reason to come into the park.”

Clegg is partnering with the River Center, which provides the expertise on the river and its many inhabitants. Educating people about the river isn’t just for adults. Clegg runs day camps for children, too.

and another quote from Clough’s news. . .

     “I [Clegg] see north Palm Beach County, and especially Jupiter, becoming a known eco-tourism destination that attracts visitors from around the world and continues to provide those that live here an ‘out-of-this-world’ natural experience.”

[Briefly consider this: Couldn’t the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge in suburban Boynton Beach also become a “known eco-tourism destination that attracts visitors from around the world”?]

When asked by the reporter (Clough) what one of his favorite books is Clegg recommended the best seller The Last Child in the Woods, subtitled Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.

More information about the Loxahatchee River.

Below is a press release and video from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) about the restoration of two historic dams along the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter for the ecosystem of this federally designated “wild and scenic river” for public recreation, e.g., access for kayaking, fishing, ecotourism and possibly helping children with NDD.

The Loxahatchee flows through Riverbend Park in Jupiter (in Palm Beach County) and north into Jonathan Dickinson State Park between Hobe Sound and Tequesta. Both of these parks are wonderful assets with Jonathan Dickinson being the largest state park in Southeast Florida and Riverbend Park having such a long history here in PBC.

Near Riverbend Park, also on the Loxahatchee River, is the popular historical site of Battlefield Park:

Since acquiring the land, the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department’s goal has been to preserve the natural, archaeological, and cultural significance of these properties and to provide access and education to the public. . . . The parks [Riverbend and Battlefield] are also officially recognized as sites of two Second Seminole War battles and were home to pioneers and farmsteaders after those battles.

Press release datelined May 2018,
“SFWMD Completes Restoration of Historic
Loxahatchee River Dams”:

Jupiter, FL — [T]he South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) Water Resources Analysis Coalition [WRAC] received a detailed presentation about the recently completed restoration of two historic dams on the Loxahatchee River in northern Palm Beach County.
     The dams, first built in the 1930s by local families, control and regulate upstream flow stages of the Northwest Fork of the river, the state's first designated “wild and scenic” river. The dams also maintain the hydrology of the riverine floodplain ecosystem. Modeling has shown that without the two dams in place, the upstream water levels would be about 1.5 feet lower, draining the freshwater swamp and encouraging saltwater intrusion.
     “One of SFWMD’s primary missions is the protection of natural systems and these dam renovations are crucial to ensuring the future of the Loxahatchee River," said Governing Board Vice Chair Melanie Peterson, a Palm Beach County resident and former member of the Loxahatchee River Management Coordinating Council. “These dams are not only living parts of Palm Beach County's history, but they are essential to protecting the cypress swamp floodplain that makes the Loxahatchee so unique.”

The video from SFWMD:

For reference: Note the Loxahatchee River Watershed Project in the map below (top right) and the “Mecca Parcel” to the west.

Click on image to enlarge:

The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is southeast of Lake Okeechobee (see WCA 1 on map). FYI: The Loxahatchee Sierra Club and SFWMD have been coordinating together to control the spread of Lygodium. To learn more click on this link.

Hope you found this information helpful today.

And as to the question, “Who relies on Lake Okeechobee?”

The answer is millions of people and every community in South Florida, businesses and the environment all rely each and every day on the “Liquid Heart of Florida”: