A Gladesman is a person who is very passionate about and has fallen in love with the environment of the Everglades.

I have raised my children the way I was raised, to respect the land and also be a part of the environment. The traditional culture of the Gladesman and sportsman is all about the desire to protect the environment while enjoying all different aspects of the outdoors and just being in the environment. The Gladesman likes to see the beauty of God’s creation and be a part of the environment. A Gladesman takes care of it and respects it. If there is any heaven on earth, it’s there in the natural environment that the Gladesman loves to spend their time in.

I don’t hunt as much now. I’m more interested in filming and photographing nature. Years ago, I wanted to film everything that lives in the Everglades and I have fulfilled that mission: deer, hogs, bear, panther, bobcats, alligators. It took me 12 years to complete my mission to film a panther in the wild – I’ve seen nine panthers in my lifetime. I saw my first panther when I was 11 years old as a Boy Scout.

My eyes have seen things no other generation will see. I’m really the last generation to see what my father and grandfather saw.

Our resources should be managed and respected but we also must have adequate access so future generations can fall in love with our natural environment and protect it forever. They need to be able to have hands-on experience with nature. We don’t want people to be limited to seeing this great wonderland from behind a glass wall, as sort of a ‘see but don’t touch theme park.’ Folks need to be out in it and learn to respect and preserve it for their future generations.

I’m a big believer in traditional culture.

If I had been born ten years later, I would not have seen the Indians, and the more natural flow of the Everglades, and all its natural beauty. My eyes have seen what my parents, grandparents and Great grandparents all saw. I am so incredibly fortunate.

For more information please visit www.AlligatorRonBergeron.com

— Ron Bergeron