National Park Ranger Yvette Cano says she is living out her dream every day. That dream began when Cano was in the sixth grade and, along with a school classmate, spent a couple of days in the Everglades. Her adventure was a result of a field trip and campout that was organized through the school district.
Years later Cano is leading school kids through those exact same field trips. After a stint as a teacher with Miami-Dade Schools, Cano decided to make a career switch and get into the job she had always wanted: National Park Ranger. She is now in charge of scheduling field trips and coordinating curriculum at Shark Valley.
"My family was always into nature, they pushed that, so it was natural for me to want to be a ranger and now I am," said the beaming former school teacher.
There is a worry, though. The school district, due to budget cutbacks, no longer funds the field trips. Picking up the money slack is the National Park Service Trust and local contributions from groups such as the Peacock Foundations and a grant from Toyota. Those funds will run out in a year.
Cano and Park Service officials hope that additional funding can be found so the stream of thousands of kids that come to the Everglades yearly can continue.
For many of the youngsters it is their first trip to see the "River of Grass" and especially the gators and birds that are part of every trip. For those kids, it is exposure to a a potential career path, whether it be a ranger, a biologist, a veterinarian. Impressions at an early age are powerful, just ask Yvette Cano.