The Wekiva Bear Brigade will focus on empowering 4th graders with ways to make positive environmental change in their communities. The understanding Black Bear curriculum provides inquiry based and hands on learning opportunities for 4th graders in district area school communities where bear nuisance issues are most prevalent. The goal is to teach children how to become responsible environmental stewards for the Wekiva River, its environs, and the role they have in protecting the natural world in which they live. Easy tips and strategies for learning to coexist with wildlife that inhabit the Wekiva River System will be taught. The program will be launched in the 2015/2016 school year. More than eight hundred Orlando area elementary students from six different schools will participate in the Bear Brigade. The long term goal is to educate every fourth grader each year about wildlife, habitat, water conservation and other issues concerning the Wekiva Wild and Scenic River. Created by the FGCU Wings of Hope Environmental Education Program, the Bear Brigade will model after the FGCU Florida Panther Posse which currently educates more than four thousand Collier County elementary students about the Florida Panther and its natural environment. In the fall, students (in class) will rotate through stations with their science journal, where FGCU and UCF educators will provide lessons about the natural history of the Florida black bear, wildlife tracks, black bear cubs, black bear research, habitat loss and impacts, coexisting with black bears and water conservation. In spring, the students will play and learn in the field with ranger and educator led hikes to the public lands within the Wekiva Wild and Scenic River System. The kids while hiking will identify and research what bears eat in the wild, denning sites, track patterns, as well as enjoy a visit to the springs. They will participate in water quality testing in the Wekiva River and document their results.