Florida EcoAdventures Trip

July 10-16th 2017

In this very special Eco travel experience, participants will discover the wild world of Florida ecology with experts through manatee, sea turtle, and alligator adventures! 

Swim with Manatees- Tampa/Homossassa Springs

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Start your experience in the Gulf coast. Discover amazing birds/wild life while kayaking through canals and mangroves on the first day. Prepare yourself to venture out with the gentle giants and take a boat ride to swim with manatees.   Make a one day stop at Busch Gardens in Tampa. See wild animals then act like them!

Gator’s Galore!!- Lakeland/Orlando

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Then head on over to Central Florida and wade into the world of crocodilians, literally!  Under the direction of renowned experts, students will get unprecedented hands-on experience with wild American alligators in freshwater marsh habitat.  Bring some old clothes because in this course you will get down and dirty with one of North Americas’ largest predators!!  Whether it is Slogging through a sawgrass marsh, speeding along on an airboat, or muscling through the marsh on a giant swamp buggy, students will get to experience all these sensations in pursuit of our scaly quarry!  Everything from capture techniques, safely subduing large animals, locating animals, setting traps, snaring, eyeshining, and it is nesting season! Students will accompany experts in a quest to remove eggs from nests to put in incubators.  All aspects of gator capture, transport, and data collection, will be covered, in a safe and supervised experience, carried out by no other than National Geographic’s  and EcoAdventures’ owner Dr. Brady Barr. 

Sea turtles /St. Augustine

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Head East toward the oldest city in the USA- St Augustine!  Make a stop at Blue Springs State Park to see resident manatees, gators, gopher tortoises and more! Then spend the afternoon at St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park for an insider’s view with a behind the scenes tour on animal husbandry and training.  Then hit the town… “Olde Town” that is,  for a nice dinner out.  Walk through the historic cobble stone streets and buildings.  See the sights and shops.   Wake up and switch hats as you visit University of Florida’s Whitney’s Lab Sea Turtle Hospital and learn about animal rescues. Relax on the beach for a while until we go on a moonlight tour with a guide to look for sea turtles nesting… or hatching!


Important information

We Provide:

  • STUDENT GROUPS: Supervision at all times with 2 of our expert EcoAdventure’s naturalists/biologists in addition to local researchers, vets, wildlife experts/biologists, and naturalists, etc
  • Transportation in a 12-15 passenger van, boat tours, kayaks
  • All Lodging with all meals included except at airport- please bring extra money for snacks/drinks
  • Parent/child meeting to discuss details prior to signing up
  • Half day training and informational session for participants that includes: Introduction to marine biology, life history of manatee sea turtles/their biology, expectations, trip information etc.
  • Unforgettable and perhaps- life changing experiences!


All Participants Must:

  • Be mature, independent individuals 13 years or older (or approved by EA)
  • Be prepared to live in close contact with others, some dorm-style, others hotel rooms.
  • Have some experience staying away from home for extended periods of time
  • Be able to tolerate hikes, outdoor environments/weather, tolerate insects, etc
  • Be able to adjust to a early mornings/late nights busy travel schedule and LONG day of physical activities
  • Be able to follow directions carefully and quickly
  • Have a passion for animals, courage to try to swim/touch/investigate animals in wild habitats
  • Must know how to swim and be in good physical condition
  • Must be able to hike and slog through remote areas/no bathrooms, etc
  • Must come to the parent/child informational session and sign a participation waiver form/ have insurance/purchase additional travel insurance
  • Must sign a participation, medical form and waiver

Price:  $1500 per person without airfare

*Does not include airfare to Tampa and return flight from Jacksonville or mandatory additional travel insurance about $40-70

Led by marine biologist and Ecoadventures’ owner Mei Len Sanchez-Barr and second instructor depending on how many participants.  Each location, we will connect with experts:  Alligators: Dr Brady Barr, Lee Lightsey, Sea Turtles/Gators: Jennifer Brueggen and John Brueggen (St. Augustine Alligator Farm Director)  This experience is like no other. Talk about the dream team!  

Lakeland: Lightsey’s  Private cabins

St. Augustine:  Holiday Inn/Quality Inn like hotel TBA

Are you ready to experience the extraordinary?? SPACE IS LIMITED

Parent/participant Meeting Jan 28th   12:30–1:00pm  at EcoAdventures

$500 deposit to hold your spot due in Feb 1st     410-987-1300  EcoadventuresMD@gmail.c0m



Location:                                           Lodging                                                  Activities                                 Meals Included

7/10 Day 1:  Travel day:  Arrive Tampa airport. Homosassa Springs https://www.birdsunderwater.com/#/     Kayaking L, D
7/11 Day 2:  Homosassa Springs same Manatee Boat ride B,L,D
7/12 Day 3:  Travel day:Tampa Busch Gardens Lightsey’s private cabins in Lakeland Night eye shining tour B,L,D
7/13 Day 4:Lightsey’s Gator Facility same Airboat/slogging/workshop/swamp buggy/night egg collecting B,L,D family style
7/14 Day 5: Travel: Blue Springs State Park Hotel TBA -St. Augustine Hikes, manatee sightings, PM: St. Augustine Gator Farm tour/ sea turtle moonlight night walk B, L, D
7/15 Day 6:  Whitney’s Lab Sea Turtle Hospital same Whitney’s Lab Sea Turtle Hospital, beach/old town for dinner B, L, D
7/16 Day 7:  St. Augustine  travel day to JAX airport depart AM:Beach/shopping  PM: depart to MD B, L

Instructor Biographies

Mei Len Sanchez-Barr

Executive Director

Marine Biologist

Mei Len’s varied career is a testament to her lifelong passion for the conservation of the environment and its inhabitants. Her commitment to endangered and threatened species such as the Florida manatee, sea turtles, and alligators, has earned her accolades from the mayor of Miami, Florida. She has over 20 years experience in Conservation Education at various institutions such as The National Aquarium in Baltimore, National Audubon Society, and Miami Seaquarium. As an advocate for young minority women in science, she was also featured in Baltimore Times highlighting her interesting career and achievements while celebrating women’s history month March 2002. She was also chosen to appear in the Latina Magazine June issue 2006, as the featured inspirational Hispanic woman in marine biology careers. Mei Len is currently the Aquarium and Zoo Associations (AZA) Crocodilian Advisory Group- Education Liaison and member of the Crocodilian Specialist Group. She first started the company with eco travel, taking students to FL Keys for marine biology field excursions going kayaking, hiking, seining, snorkeling etc.  Mei Len is well traveled and has extensive experience in the field within different habitats in places such as Florida, Costa Rica, and Africa.  Mei Len is a graduate of the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Marine Science and has performed graduate work at George Mason University in Conservation Education. She and her husband, Dr. Brady Barr, and 2 children live in Severna Park, MD.

Bachelors of Science (Biology & Marine Science), University of Miami.


Brady Barr, Ph.D.

Public Relations & Animal Expert

Dr. Brady Barr is a reptile specialist and television personality. In over 15 years, he has traveled to more than 80 countries for National Geographic Television to host over 100 wildlife documentaries – more than anyone in National Geographic’s history. In the process, he has worked with just about every animal imaginable – from crocodiles, alligators, and snakes to bears, sharks, lions, hippos, and more. Among his many notable achievements, Brady was the first person to ever capture and study all 23 species of crocodilians in the wild. Hes driven by a desire to get to know crocodiles and other species in their natural habitat so that we might best know how to save them in the wild (about one third of all crocodilians are endangered). The author of multiple children’s books about reptiles, Brady is also the star of the educational XBOX game Dangerous Encounters, a collaboration with Microsoft. On the research front, Brady has participated in studies with leading scientists throughout the world including his ongoing research, supported by the National Geographic Society, into conservation of the American crocodile in Costa Rica, and his dietary study of alligators in the Florida Everglades.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, Brady received a Bachelor of Science in science education from Indiana University in 1987 and launched his teaching career at North Central High School in Indianapolis, teaching subjects like zoology, biology, and earth and life sciences. With a highly interactive classroom style, Brady encouraged his students to touch, see, and feel the animals firsthand. He went on to receive a Master of Science (1994) and a Ph.D. (1997) in Biology from the University of Miami.

Among his many media appearances, Brady has appeared in the FOX Network Special Super Croc and logged multiple appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Oprah,The Today Show, The View, and CNN. Hes a frequent contributor to National Geographic Kids Magazine, an ambassador for Nat Geo’s Young Explorers Program in Asia, and an Educator/leader at the National Geographic Explorers Club for Kids. His recent speaking engagements include keynote speaker at the National Science Teachers Association, Annual Convention World Congress of Zoologists, Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, and numerous schools, zoos, aquariums, & museums and fundraising events across the country.
Brady is married to Mei Len Sanchez-Barr, a marine biologist and educator who runs Eco-educational programs for kids. They have two children.

Currently a member of the Endangered Species Coalition of the Council of State Governments and the International Crocodilian Specialist Group, Brady also serves as a scientific expert for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Bachelors of Science, Indiana University in 1987
Masters of Science (1994), University of Miami
Ph.D. (1997), University of Miami


Jen Brueggen-Biologist

Jen Brueggen is a biologist with specialized knowledge about crocodilians, sharks, and many other animals. She was a zookeeper for many years at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and the St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Jen graduated from the University of South Florida with a BS degree in Environmental Science and Policy. Currently, she works for the St John’s County during Sea Turtle season and volunteers her time at the Whitney Sea Turtle Hospital in Marineland. At home, she cares for a small hobby farm consisting of chickens, ducks, guineas, and turkeys. Jen spends much of her time traveling around the United States and internationally, as well as trains for races ranging from 5kms to 26.2 miles. Jen is married to the John Brueggen, the Director of the St Augustine Alligator Farm and has two dogs, who are spoiled rotten. 


Possible instructor depending on how many children: Kelsey Heyman

EcoAdventures Enrichment- Specialist and Lead instructor