Miami Dade College Homepage > MDC in the News

Miami Dade College Launches Innovative Ranger Academy with Donation from the Florida Bay Stewardship Fund

Pipeline program will get people to work at local national parks and others across the country

Miami, September 8, 2011 - Miami Dade College is adding a new career path for students at its renowned School of Justice – a training program for National Park Service rangers – with support from the Florida Bay Stewardship Fund of the South Florida National Parks Trust and its partner the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). 

Members of the Florida Bay Stewardship Fund today presented a $35,000 check to Dr. Hector Garcia, director of the School of Justice, to establish a training academy for seasonal law enforcement rangers in South Florida. 

Graduates of the program will be eligible to work as seasonal law enforcement rangers in 395 national parks across the nation, including four national parks in South Florida – Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks and Big Cypress National Preserve. It is the only program of its kind south of South Carolina. 

“The ranger training academy at Miami Dade College North Campus will provide local residents with the opportunity to protect areas they know and love, like Florida Bay,” said John Adornato, chairman of the Florida Bay Stewardship Fund and Sun Coast regional director for NPCA in Hollywood, Florida. “This program will create new career opportunities for local students and provide the National Park Service with a diverse pool of qualified applicants who are familiar with South Florida’s national parks and their waters.” 

The South Florida National Parks Trust and NPCA established the Florida Bay Stewardship Fund in 2009 to provide a private source of funding to protect Florida Bay in Everglades National Park through education, enhanced law enforcement and science. 

Since its inception, the fund has sought to identify, recruit and train qualified rangers to patrol Florida Bay, a shallow marine lagoon where knowledge of the water is essential. 

Two South Florida students previously received scholarships from the fund to attend a training academy in North Carolina. Both students now work as rangers in Everglades National Park. The establishment of a training academy in Miami will open this opportunity to more students and expand the pool of applicants for South Florida’s national parks. 

“We are extremely pleased to partner with NPCA, the Trust and especially the parks on this innovative and needed program” Dr. Garcia said. “Partnerships such as these build community and protect our fragile environment at the same time.”

The first students are expected to begin classes in January or February 2012. Graduates of the 15-week program will receive a certificate of completion that will allow them to seek employment as seasonal rangers at national parks nationwide. Students must be 21 years of age and pass a medical exam, a physical fitness test and a background check. Tuition costs are estimated at $4,000 per student. The first graduation is anticipated in May 2012. 

Miami Dade College plans to market the program on the MDC television network, the college’s Web site, and through weekly information sessions for students. The college’s director of communications, Juan C. Mendieta, is a board member of the South Florida National Parks Trust and was involved in efforts to establish the training program.


“It’s not often I get to wear both hats. This is truly a win-win situation for all involved, combining the energies of several highly respected organizations,” said Mendieta. “Our hope is that this is the start of many good things for years to come and becomes a model of excellence and collaboration.”

About Miami Dade College 

Miami Dade College is the nation’s largest institution of higher education with an enrollment of more than 174,000 students. It is the nation’s top producer of Associate in Arts and Science degrees and awards more degrees to minorities than any other college or university in the country. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer more than 300 distinct degree programs including several baccalaureate degrees in education, public safety, supervision and management, nursing, physician assistant studies, film and  engineering, among others, and its academic and workforce training programs are models of excellence. MDC has served nearly 2,000,000 students since it opened its doors in 1960. 

About National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) 

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in the fight to safeguard our National Park System. NPCA, its more than 600,000 members and supporters, and partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for our children and grandchildren. For more information, visit: 

About South Florida National Parks Trust 

The South Florida National Parks Trust was established in 2002 to support South Florida’s four national parks – Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks and Big Cypress National Preserve – through fund-raising and community outreach.  Since its inception, the Trust has provided more than $3 million in funding to these four parks to support projects and programs in five critical areas: environmental education, resource protection, visitor services, volunteer activities and community outreach. For more information about the Trust, visit

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, or genetic information.
Contact the Office of Director, Equal Opportunity Programs, ADA and Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for assistance.