In 1897, famed explorer and scientist Hugh Willoughby made history as the first non-Native American to traverse the Florida Everglades from coast to coast. Traveling by canoe, the adventurer crossed through 130 miles of exotic wilderness, all the while studying the subtropical flora and fauna of Florida’s most beloved natural ecosystem. Now, 125 years later, a new expedition is set to follow in this legendary adventurer’s wake.
The 2022 Willoughby Expedition will follow the same path of the 19th century voyage, beginning on Oct. 27 from the Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park and arriving in downtown Miami via the Miami River in early November. Along the way, the five-member team will be taking water samples to test for chemical changes and pollutants resulting from the human impact on the Everglades’ ecosystem.
“By calling attention to Hugh Willoughby’s historic trip and recreating it, we will conduct cutting-edge science that evidences modern human impact on one of the most important watersheds on the planet,” said Harvey Oyer, historian, author, adventurer, attorney and West Palm Beach resident.
Educators at the Cox Science Center and Aquarium are encouraging students with a passion for science to take a small role in the upcoming expedition by submitting videos detailing either a conservation project they are working on that aligns with the expedition’s goals or mentioning an outdoor adventure or conservation project they worked on in the past. Two winners from each school level will receive a cash prize and the opportunity to meet the expedition team in person at a future event hosted by the Cox Science Center. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, Oct. 19.