Partnership for Environmental Education

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a Unique and Innovative Educational Program

What makes JERFSA unique is that it was the first Environmental Science high school magnet program in Florida, as well as one of the first such programs in the United States. Its existence inspired other schools around Florida and other states to build their own Environmental Science programs. It was and still is an innovative program of study 

JERFSA, which is a school within a school, was the first high school program in the nation to win several awards from the BLM. It is truly a groundbreaking program, both figuratively and literally.

Among the many strengths of JERFSA is the freedom given by the school administration to do things that are not traditional high school activities or projects. 


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An Exceptional Education

The Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy at Jupiter Community High School is a four-year Magnet school program designed to meet the needs of students who wish to pursue an academic curriculum with emphasis on environmental studies. The program focus on:
·         Ecological principles and processes
·         Environmental awareness
·         Field studies and research
·         Critical thinking skills
·         Problem solving skills
·         Leadership skills
·         Interdisciplinary learning
The Academy accepts 50-60 new freshman students each year. The average total number of students in the program yearly is 200.

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The Environmental Program

All JERFSA students are deeply involved in field study and research. Programs include wildlife preserve restoration, local clean-up projects, mentoring of elementary school children on the importance of preserving our precious resources, and a variety of programs that directly impact Northern Palm Beach County.

Our Amazing Program

  • Ninth graders are introduced to field study at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, work with waste management issues at Solid Waste Authority, participate in Tropical Hammock Eco Study at MacArthur Beach State Park, and study Florida reefs at Key Largo Marine  Lab, among other field trips.

  • Tenth grade students  participate in an Everglades Intensive, the JERFSA Outdoor Experience, and the K-O-E (Kissimmee-Ockeechobee-Everglades) Restoration Studies. Once a month students also participate in extensive Enviroservice Projects. They are split into small groups and work with people from a local agency that are involved with the environment.

  • Eleventh graders participate in Leadership Training, study the Ecology of Bats, the Ecology of Honeybees and Exotic Invasive and Controls. They also have Watershed Explorations at Grassy Waters Nature Center, the Florida Caverns Intensive at Florida Caverns State Park, and field studies at Cypress Creek Natural Area in Jupiter Farms.

  • Twelve graders Study Air Quality Management, Wilderness Survival Training, Fire Ecology and the Loxahatchee River District Wastewater Plant. They also  study Wildlife Forensics at the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and participate in the Loxahatchee River Canoe Adventure at Riverbend Park.

Enviroservice Projects and Community Service

  • The Enviroservice Projects are performed during school hours by 10th grade students and do not count towards the JERFSA requirement of 200 community service hours for graduation from the program. Enviroservice Projects can include working with Palm Beach County"s Department of Environmental Research Management (ERM), students work on clean-up or planting native plants and trees. Working with the Loxahatchee River Environmental Control District they perform scientific research. The research includes juvenile fish studies in the Intracoastal Waterway and water quality testing in the Loxahatchee River. 

  • The community Service hours performed by the JERFSA students that  directly benefits the environment includes wildlife surveys, placement of bird and bat boxes, clean-ups. Students are also involved in plant restoration projects removal of invasive species and Eagle Watch program.

An Award Winning Program

  • 1994 to the present include numerous Palm Beach County and State "Envirothon" championships.

  • 1996 the State Department of Education's Office of Environmental Education. named JERFSA a "Program of Excellence".

  • 1998 certificate for "Outstanding Volunteer Service" from Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources.

  • 2003 the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior awarded JERFSA the "National Volunteer Award" and the "BLM Director's 4C Award".

  • 2005 the "Achievement Award" from the National  Association of Counties to ERM for Their Volunteer Public Service class partnership activities.

  • 2007 "National Hands on Land Award" from the National Environmental Education Association.

  • 2009 Education Award from the Treasure Coast Chapter of the Florida Association of Environmental Professionals.

  • 2011 "Pine Jog Environmental Educator of the Year" and "Environmental Education Program of the Year".

  • 2009-2015 "Green School of Excellence" awards from Florida Atlantic University and Pine Jog Environmental Center.

JERFSA and the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area

The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (JILONA) was federally designated by Congress in May 2008 to “protect, conserve, and enhance the unique and nationally important historic, natural, cultural, scientific, educational, scenic, and recreational values of the Federal land surrounding the Lighthouse for the benefit of present generations and future generations for the people in the United States.” 

The JILONA site is the first Outstanding Natural Area (ONA) in the nation east of the Pacific Coast.

The JILONA is cooperatively managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and local partners: Palm Beach County, Town of Jupiter, Village of Tequesta, Loxahatchee River Historical Society, U.S. Coast Guard and Jupiter High School's Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy

The administrators, teachers and students of JERFSA were instrumental in helping turn this beautiful piece of land into the federally designated Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (JILONA). Also JERFSA was one of only nine winners nationwide selected for exceptional service to the BLM in 2013, and JERFSA was the only youth organization that won the coveted award that year. 

When JERFSA was selected as the "Outstanding Youth Volunteer" award winner in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "Making a Difference" National Volunteer Awards competition in 2014, it was accompanied by a letter that read in part:

Students from Jupiter High School's Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy (JERFSA) have contributed more than 10,000 hours of volunteer service over the past 10 years at the BLM's Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area. 

SInce 2004, JERFSA students have assisted in massive exotic plant removals, general tract clean-ups, the reintroduction of native plant species, an ongoing tidal wetlands construction project, tortoise burrow monitoring, and planting of over 10,000 mangrove seedlings. Recently, the ONA was designated as a formal outdoor classroom for the Academy. Students have since established long-term monitoring plots in prescribed burn areas and in the new wetlands, where they use custom-designed nets to sample fish species that use the area. Many restoration projects have been completed and BLM management goals reached since these high school students began to volunteer at Jupiter Inlet; without them, the ONA would not be the place it is today. The Academy is making a difference in the lives of local high school students and they, in turn, are making a difference in their community.