Florida Program Final Report 2020

This year, 6 students from Sagano High School traveled to Florida in January. After returning to Japan, they began to formulate their ideas for a presentation on what they experienced, what they learned, and what ideas they wished they could see used here in Japan and in Kyoto. Here is a description of the full Florida exchange program for 2020.
From January 4th – 16th, 6 second-year students from Sagano High School participated in an intensive study trip to Jupiter, Florida in the United States of America. 
Before leaving, the students met with the principal where he asked them to learn as much as possible and asked them to investigate many research questions.

January 4th and 5th
On January 4th the students were picked up by their homestay families at the airport. It was a happy greeting and everyone was excited to start the study program. On the 5th the students enjoyed a free day with their homestay families. 

January 6th
On Monday the students went to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens where they gave presentations to the staff and docents about Japanese holidays and taught them about Japanese culture. Then they went on a tour of the Japanese gardens and enjoyed learning about how American people appreciate Japanese culture. 

January 7th
The next day they went to Jupiter High School where they first had a tour of the campus and met all of the teachers they would be working with for the next two weeks. They had lunch with the principal and teachers. Finally they enjoyed a lecture from Ms. Jennifer Smith, an Environmental Specialist who works for Ecological Associates, Inc. The students learned how scientists at companies help to protect wildlife while also helping communities and companies to do business. 

Ms. Smith from Ecological Associates

January 8th and 9th
On the 8th the students met scientists from the Department of Natural Resources and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Palm Beach County and Florida. The scientists told them all about their work and how everything connects back to natural resources and protecting the environment.
In the afternoon the students went to classes at Jupiter High School’s Jupiter Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy where they taught the students about Japan’s natural environment and about Japanese holidays.
On the 9th the students attended classes at Jupiter High School with partner students. They attended classes for the day and saw how the American school system works. They had a fun time being like real American high school students!

January 10th-12th
On Friday the students traveled to Everglades National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve Site, to study the native Florida ecosystems and how they are being affected by humans. 
On the 11th and 12th the students enjoyed their time with their homestay families, visiting various places and living every-day American life.

January 13th 
Monday morning the students arrived in time for classes. The students had a lecture from the Mounts Botanical Gardens staff and learned about how to manage water resources, how important conservation is for a sustainable future, and how to identify wildlife using a dichotomous key. 
In the afternoon the students visited Busch Wildlife Hospital in Jupiter and learned about why invasive species cannot be released back into the wild and how animals who are harmed can be helped there at the hospital.

January 14th
On Tuesday the students went to the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to learn about native animal species, water quality testing, usual ecosystem conditions, and how to remove invasive species.

January 15th-16th
On the final day of the program, the students had a lecture about exotic species that were causing damage to the Everglades ecosystem. Then, in the afternoon, they participated in fieldwork with the Jupiter High School students, working on a butterfly garden and collecting invertebrates from the Jupiter High wetland.
In the evening, they had their final event, a dinner with all of the teachers and homestay families from Jupiter High School. It was a bittersweet evening, as they knew they had to leave in the morning. 
On the morning of the 16th, bright and early, the students departed by plane, travelling back to Kyoto.
Thank you so much to the teachers and staff of Jupiter High School, all of the wonderful lecturers, and also to the homestay families. The students had a meaningful and educational time that will never be forgotten, thank you so much!

Meeting with Kyoto University
After the students returned to Japan, they started to prepare for a trip to Kyoto University to share the results of their trip and to propose new ideas for the future of Japan and Kyoto. Unfortunately the coronavirus prevented their trip and they had to wait several months, but finally, in August they could meet with the Laboratory of Regional Planning in the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies at Kyoto University (LRP-GES).

For over an hour the students presented their ideas and received clarifying questions and advice from the professors and graduate students who are members of the LRP-GES lab. It was an amazing experience and we are very grateful to the LRP-GES and to Kyoto University for meeting with us!

Our students are featured on the LRP-GES blog as well: http://lrp.ges.kyoto-u.ac.jp/index.php/2020/08/06/sagano-high-school-students-global-presentation/

Thanks to everyone involved with the Sagano High School Florida Program, 2020 was a successful year!