Strand to Slough Expedition: Exploring the Critical Connections of Southwest Florida

Background

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation champions a collaborative campaign to permanently connect, protect and restore the Florida Wildlife Corridor – a statewide network of connected public and private lands and waters that supports wildlife and people. The organization uses rich storytelling, rooted in science, to heighten the visibility of the Corridor and inspire protection of the irreplaceable gaps – lands without permanent conservation protections – in the Corridor. To help tell these stories, the Corridor Foundation produces award-winning documentary films featuring groups of people (trekkers) who undertake expeditions (multi-day hiking, biking, and paddling journeys) to explore at-risk connections in the Corridor and the need for protection of the local lands and waterways.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor encompasses nearly 18 million acres – 11 million acres are already protected, and 7 million acres of remaining irreplaceable gaps that do not have conservation protections. Development throughout Florida is rapidly increasing, with an average of 1,000 people moving here each day. There are 900,000 acres of unprotected, high-priority vulnerable areas left in the Corridor – 500,000 of those acres are projected to be lost by 2030.

View our previous expeditions and films

When, Where, and Why

November 15-22, 2024

This expedition is all about “Corridor-Connected Communities”

The Strand to Slough Expedition will feature trekkers with a deep desire for connection to the lands, wildlife, and waterways of southwest Florida. We will explore the Florida Wildlife Corridor from the coastal wetlands to cattle country, starting in Picayune Strand State Forest and traveling north through Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the Okaloacoochee Slough, and ending near the Caloosahatchee River. The core of the Expedition will involve a multi-day journey of hiking, biking, and paddling through private and public lands vital to conserving Corridor connectivity. The Expedition will feature family heritage, community and spiritual connections to the land, and local engagement with the Corridor. The trek will also highlight agricultural lands critical to maintaining Corridor connections. This Expedition will explore high-priority areas crucial to keeping this southwestern edge connected to the rest of the statewide Florida Wildlife Corridor geography.

Family heritage, community connection, and spiritual significance tie many Floridians to the lands of southwest Florida. These connections are meaningful, and the unrelenting pace of development in the region has created an urgent need for the conservation of these irreplaceable spaces. Our trekkers will help inspire connection to and protections for these vital Corridor gaps and highlight why keeping this section of the Corridor connected goes beyond the importance to just local wildlife. That said, what happens in this southwest Corridor will dictate viability of Florida panther establishment north of the Caloosahatchee River. Wildlife of regional note are black bears, panthers, swallow-tailed kites, wood storks, gopher tortoises, ghost orchids, and more. We also aim to highlight the economic value of working agricultural and ranch lands in this region of the Corridor and how local communities are directly connected to those working lands and the greater landscape.

Trekkers will be led through the terrain by local experts, landowners, and experienced trekkers from past Expeditions. All meals, lodging, and transportation are included – there is no cost to the trekkers who participate in this Expedition. The Expedition will be filmed and photographed to document and develop a short film about the experience. Our Expeditions result in award-winning films that amplify our critical mission to Floridians and audiences worldwide.

Logistical Information

Expedition timeline: The physical expedition will start on November 16, 2024, and go through November 22. Trekkers will also be expected to attend an orientation day on November 15 and a pre-expedition event that same night in Naples.

Gear: You are welcome and encouraged to use your own gear, but there may also be sponsored gear provided to you that we would ask you to use during the expedition. There will be no cost to you for this gear. Any gear needed for your participation in the expedition will be provided to you.

Transportation, housing, and food: All transportation needs, housing requirements, and food will be provided for you during the expedition. All dietary requirements and restrictions will be documented and honored upon request.

Cost: There will be no cost to the trekkers associated with their participation in the expedition experience from November 15-22, 2024.

Trekker Requirements

  • Must be at least 18 years old and a resident of Lee, Collier, Glades, or Hendry Counties (proof of residency will be required).
  • Must be available to participate in the entire expedition experience from November 15-22, 2024.
  • Must work well with others in a group setting and be able to maintain a spirit of collaboration, kindness, open-mindedness, inclusivity, curiosity, and teamwork through long hours and in potentially adverse or uncomfortable outdoor situations.
  • Must be comfortable and have proven experience with high levels of physical exertion, including off-trail/overland travel, in potentially adverse outdoor conditions (heat, rain, wind, biting and stinging insects) for extended periods of time.
  • Must show proven experience and competence with hiking, biking, and paddling (canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards).
  • Must consent to being filmed and photographed.
  • Commit to attending select screenings of the resulting expedition film in 2025 and possibly 2026 and be comfortable talking about the expedition experience with audiences and the media.
  • Consent to undergo a basic background check (including social media and web presence, etc.)

Ideal Trekker

The ideal trekker for this experience would fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Multigenerational – A Floridian with longstanding ties to southwest Florida, whether that be through family heritage in land ownership, stewardship, or deeply rooted community ties going back multiple generations.
  • New Floridian – Someone who has recently moved to Florida (in the past 5 years), who is interested in learning more about and connecting to the natural and cultural resources and heritage of the land, water, wildlife, and people of southwest Florida.
  • Livelihood Corridor Connection – A Floridian whose livelihood/occupation is directly connected to the Corridor. Examples include people working in the agricultural sector, ecotourism, aquaculture, sportsman guides, environmental educators, or community leaders. These occupations could be active, or the person can be retired.
  • Spiritual Practice – A Floridian whose spirituality is connected to the significance of caring for the land. This connection can come from any background of spirituality – there is no one religion, practice, or spiritual journey we are looking for, rather the authentic ability to share a personal sense of connection to the lands, waterways, and wildlife of southwest Florida.

Application Guidance

Please answer all the following questions in the form on our website:

Tell Us About Yourself

  • What does it mean to you to be a Floridian?
  • Please elaborate on how you fit in to one or more of the categories outlined for Ideal Trekkers (Multigenerational Floridian, New Floridian, Livelihood Corridor Connection, or Spiritual Practice).
  • Tell us about an experience you had connecting to the land, water and/or wildlife of southwest Florida.
  • Tell us if/how you feel connected to working lands in southwest Florida (ranching, agriculture, timber, etc.)
  • What does it mean to you to be part of a community?
  • Would you be able and willing to attend the film premier and other key screenings and events related to the expedition and resulting film in 2025 and possibly 2026? Are you comfortable with public speaking?

Video Introduction

  • Considering the Ideal Trekker and Application Guidance questions, please create a 1–2-minute MP4 video (no larger than 256 MB) introducing yourself, why you would be an excellent trekker to join this expedition, and what does connecting to the Florida Wildlife Corridor mean to you?
Apply Today!

Trekker Selection

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation has a committee to review each application. Trekkers will be chosen based on the quality of their answers in this application, their video introduction, and their availability during the expedition and film rollout timeline. Upon completing the selection process for the trekkers, the Corridor Foundation will notify the chosen applicants and all other applicants not selected by the end of August. The Corridor Foundation’s review of applications is confidential, so it cannot respond to any questions and/or requests for information as to why a person was not selected.

Application Questions and Submissions

Any application questions can be submitted to the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, info@floridawildlifecorridor.org. Applications will automatically be submitted upon the completion of the application form on our website. Please do not send any additional emails submitting the application. All questions regarding the application must be submitted no later than July 19.

A completed application shall include:

  • All pertinent contact information.
  • Written answers to the questions in the Application Guidance “Tell Us About Yourself” section.
  • A 1–2-minute video introducing yourself while answering the Video Introduction questions. Maximum video size is 256 MB. Must be submitted in MP4 format.
  • Links to your website and all social media, including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and LinkedIn (if applicable).

Questions Deadline: July 19
Application Deadline: July 26

Apply Today!