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John D. MacArthur Beach State Park aims to educate future generations via exploration

'There’s so much life out here, if people would just slow down and take a look,' Alexis Lautzker says
Posted at 3:44 PM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-03 15:07:20-04

NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla.  — One of South Florida’s gems is sure to be busy this holiday weekend. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is tucked along the northern-most tip of Singer Island. It’s the only state park in Palm Beach County, and its four ecosystems stand out, making the park one of the most diverse on the East Coast.

Boaters race by the western portion of the park every single day and are sure to speed by in droves this Labor Day weekend.

“There’s so much life out here, if people would just slow down and take a look,” said Alexis Lautzker, the owner of High Point Paddle Adventures. Lautzker runs eco-tours via paddleboard most days of the week.

Alexis Lautzker
Alexis Lautzker, owner of High Point Paddle Adventures.

“You can see stingrays, turtles, dolphin, manatee, baby lemon sharks, dolphin, even ibis and great blue heron,” Lautzker said.

The area is also one of the largest wading bird rookeries in all South Florida. Benji Studt is the director of Environmental Resources Management for Palm Beach County and believes the park serves up some of the best bird watching in the state.

“We’ve got three charismatic bird species here and this is their southern-most nesting population for these birds in a natural setting on the East Coast,” said Studt. “It’s amazing! A lot of people know this as the Intracoastal Waterway, but this natural body of water that’s part of John D. MacArthur, was a freshwater lake, until the inlets were dug many years ago and has become one of the most thriving estuaries on the East Coast of Florida.”

Benji Studt
Benji Studt, director of Environmental Resources Management for Palm Beach County and one of the producers of "Hidden Wild."

The estuary in John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is a no-motor zone and serves as the nursery to much of the fish that end up on our table in our local restaurants and homes.

The area recently served as a backdrop for a 30-minute documentary that focuses on raising up the next generation of nature-lovers.

“We needed to come up with good educational material, so we produced this documentary called “Hidden Wild.” Then we worked with local Palm Beach County science teachers, and created rich and interactive curriculum for 7th and 10th graders," said Studt. "So, instead of our local kids learning through the digital world about the plight of the polar bear, we can teach them what’s going on in our backyard. We’re teaching the next generation through exploration.”

You can download that interactive curriculum, here.

To view the 30-minute documentary, click here.