Saturday, May 12, 2018

Shark Valley Visitor Center
36000 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33194

The Mobile Volunteer Patrol (MVP) rides the Shark Valley Tram Trail on bicycles and is seeking committed volunteers to join its patrols!

The Mobile Volunteer Patrol (MVP) is a group of volunteers who ride bicycle patrols in the Shark Valley and Pine Island Districts of Everglades National Park. The MVP is supervised by rangers from the Park’s Division of Visitor and Resource Protection, which is charged with enforcing the law and protecting public safety.


Overall, the members of the MVP serve as the VRP Rangers’ eyes and ears on the Park’s trails. More specifically, the MVP has three main responsibilities:
  • To assist Park rangers in protecting visitors to the Park;
  • To assist Park rangers in protecting the resources (the animals, plants and landscape) of the Park; and,  
  • To enhance visitors’ enjoyment and appreciation of the park, by providing them with information and interpretative experiences.

The general duties of MVP members include:
  • To cycle the 15-mile Shark Valley Loop, wearing the MVP uniform of bright yellow bicycle jersey and black bicycle pants;
  • To carry a special MVP backpack containing first aid and bicycle repair gear, and to use that gear to assist visitors;
  • To carry water and sunscreen that can be provided to visitors who have exhausted their own supplies;
  • To carry an NPS radio, in order to be able to contact the Visitor’s Center and VRP rangers, as may be necessary.
  • To protect the Park’s visitors by advising them against dangerous behavior, and by reporting such behavior to VRP rangers, when visitors cannot be persuaded to stop;
  • To protect the Park’s resources from destructive behavior, such as harassing the wildlife or collecting plants, and by reporting such behavior to VRP rangers, when visitors cannot be persuaded to stop;
  • To enforce various federal, state and Park rules, like these examples:
1. Children under 16 years of age must wear helmets when riding bicycles;
2. Visitors are not permitted to walk or carry dogs on the Tram Trail; and,
3. Visitors are not permitted to fly drones over federal property, including the Park;
  • To assist rangers with interpretive programs, including the Everglades in the Morning, Full Moon and L-67 Canal Bike Rides; and,
  • At all times, to provide information to and answer questions for Park visitors.

Membership requirements

To become a member of the MVP and individual must:
  • Be able to cycle the Shark Valley Tram Trail at a moderate pace (under two and a half hours);
  • Provide his or her own bicycle and helmet;
  • Be committed to participating one or two weekends per month throughout the year; and,
  • Must successfully complete an MVP Training Day.

Current Membership

The Mobile Volunteer Patrol is currently made up of twenty-eight individuals who represent diverse educational, professional and personal backgrounds. The youngest are grad students at the University of Miami and the eldest are semi-retired professionals. At least ten members can speak Spanish and at least two some French.

Long-term Goals

The goal for the Patrol is to ultimately have enough members to patrol the Tram Trail twice daily, mornings and afternoons, seven days a week, throughout the winter season and eventually throughout the year. It has been estimated that it will take some seventy-five or eighty members to fill such a schedule.

General observations
  • Park visitors seem to appreciate encountering a knowledgeable person out and about, as they walk or cycle the Loop.
  • Visitors often ask excellent questions about the animals, plants and environment of the Everglades. They are grateful for answers and explanations.
  • Bikers and hikers are eager for tips about what to look for and where to look.
  • The presence of an experienced volunteer can provide encouragement and reassurance for visitors on the far portions of the Loop.
  • Although medical issues have been few and far between, there have individuals that required assistance.
As of Monday March 12, 2018, members of the MVP have ridden trails in the Shark Valley and Pine Island Districts 416 times on 184 patrols, cycling a total of 6,972.1 miles, contacting 11,512 visitors and contributing 1,361.5 hours of volunteer time.