Explore local habitats virtually with Archbold’s ‘My Florida Explorers’

Author: Katie Carpenter

As summer approaches and temperatures rise, Floridians begin to retreat indoors to beat the heat, though that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to enjoy the natural world. Archbold Biological Station’s ‘My Florida Explorers’ program allows people to virtually explore local habitats from the comfort of their home. “This program features 360° interactive tours of thirteen habitats found locally here in central Florida,” explains Dustin Angell, Archbold’s Director of Education and the creator of ‘My Florida Explorers’. “This new application of 360° technology creates a truly immerse experience, which can be valuable to those who can’t easily venture outside or just want to avoid the sweltering heat of summer.” Best of all, the tours are available online for free!

With a click of a button, participants are transported to one of central Florida’s unique habitats. Each expansive scene offers a panoramic view, giving the virtual visitor the ability to observe the habitat from all directions. Scanning the scene, participants will notice blinking buttons, which when clicked, open tabs with photos and information about the habitat. Each tour is rich with these interactive elements – educational videos, habitat descriptions, fun facts about the flora & fauna, summaries of research projects, and more.

In addition to the beautiful natural views, each scene features photographic portraits of local scientists and land managers taken by Angell as part of his Florida Stewards project. Each portrait features a science professional with their occupational tools at their respective field site. In addition, the portraits are also interactive – featuring inspiring stories of scientific discovery, details of novel research projects, and insights from the scientists themselves.


“My Florida Explorers was created for elementary students to practice observational skills and learn about science careers,” Angell explains. “But these immersive tours appeal to all ages. They were crafted to be both educational and fun, which makes them a great resource for parents, teachers, and lifelong learners.”

These tours were created with accessibility in mind - offering participants a way to experience and learn about nature without the need to travel. Additionally, the scenes are designed to be user-friendly, ensuring those with limited technological skills can navigate and enjoy them.

To access ‘My Florida Explorers’, please visit Archbold’s Education page at A quick scroll down the page will take you to the landing page, which lists the thirteen featured habitats. There is an accompanying worksheet for classroom use – please see the Teacher’s Guide on the same webpage to learn more.

My Florida Explorer is part of Archbold’s strategy of using virtual technology to bring ecological science to diverse audiences. This includes experimenting with 360° video cameras, virtual reality, and collaborating on education projects with field stations across the country ( “We do not want to replace in-person nature experiences, and couldn’t if we tried,” says Angell, “but these technologies offer additional ways for us to communicate our ecological research. Plus, they are fun, too.”