Thursday, September 18, 2014


Every Fall is the beginning of new places, faces, and adventures at University and college campuses throughout the US. Being home to several  campuses in south Florida, it’s a given that the Everglades is one of those new places that academic institutions are trying to introduce their new faces, students, through service learning projects.

The University of Miami (UM) is one such school. They create a service learning event for students to explore the Everglades called Orientation Day. Last year, thirteen students, under the supervision of the Maintenance staff, worked on trimming brush around the campsites at Long Pine Key Campground in preparation for its opening later in the fall.

Two years ago, Orientation Day involved nearly 50 students working at the Nike Missile Base, removing the vines and shrubs along the fence line and around the buildings. In conjunction with Orientation Day, UM supports a volunteer fair to encourage other students to volunteer and explore in their National Parks.

UM is not alone in this endeavor. Florida International University (FIU) and Miami Dade Colleges (MDC) also offer orientation trips and volunteer fairs to involve their students in the environmental community. How about you and your organization, school, or company? Have you been oriented to your local National Parks? Set up a service learning trip or plan to participate on a Ranger guided tour today!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Keep on Rollin'

Have you heard of the phrase, “Fall Back, Spring Forward?” It comes from the adjustment of our clocks for Daylight savings time. In the case of Rollins College, it’s a time for fall break and spring forward into action!

Three years ago, Rollins college students volunteered at the Everglades to work at the Nike Missile Site. On the register of Historic places, the Nike Site preserves a remnant of the Cold War. Rollins College students were instrumental in helping Everglades preserve the Nike Site by removing the weeds in the cracks of the launch pads and the foundations of the buildings. Due to inclement weather, the service project was cut short, but they did receive a tour of the base.

Two years ago, Rollins’ students worked in Shark Valley removing syngonium from a place called the drill site and the observation tower. The drill site received its name from the time when the Humble Oil Company attempted to extract oil from the area prior to the park’s existence. Syngonium, also known as Arrowhead vine, is an exotic, tropical plant that out competes a native shrub by covering the canopy and blocking the sunlight.

Rollins College was scheduled to return last year, but had to change their plans due to the government shutdown.

Volunteers become stewards of their national parks through hard work and a commitment to return year after year. This fall, we expect Rollins College and many other student groups to support the management of the Everglades through service learning opportunities. Will you be a part of it?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Park Volunteer’s Photos Display Beauty

Everglades National Park volunteer Paula Baxter calls herself “another 70-year-old on an adventure.” For the past six years she has trekked through wilderness exploring the park’s beauty from the Anhinga Trail to Flamingo. She takes photos all along the way.

                Baxter’s photo exhibit, her second since 2011, was on display Dec. 1-31 at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center Gallery in Everglades National Park.  She shared her finds of nature in photos as “a glimpse into the lives of (the park’s) creatures and the ecosystems they inhabit. Each is a testament to the need to preserve and protect this unique environment.” Baxter called her second show More Gifts From the Everglades. There was a “Meet the Artist” reception for her at the gallery on Dec. 15. “I am an amateur photographer, self taught, but it’s hard not to get good pictures with such beauty surrounding you,” she said.

                The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center Gallery has a mission “to educate, enhance and enrich the visitor’s understanding and esperience of Everglades National Park through quality Everglades’ specific exhibit; foster a unique opportunity for the future generations of Park stewards to learn about the Everglades.” Monthly exhibits there feature the work of artists, including students, of all ages.

By Christina Mayo, Special to The Miami Herald, Sunday November 24, 2013

                Baxter also regularly volunteers at the visitor center, engaging visitors about things to do, where to go to see wildlife, and provide advice on photograhpy.  She also explores rarely visited areas of the park with park volunteers, Rick and Jean Seavey, who are on a mission to identify every lichen in Everglades National Park.  Read blog (New Lichen Publication Feb 20, 2014) to learn more about the Seaveys.

To plan a day trip to the gallery and park, go to The visitor center is after the park’s main entrance at 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Battle for the Everglades: Vets Versus Pythons by ABC News

(MIAMI) -- In the Florida Everglades now, it’s vets-versus-pythons, as survivors of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wrestle with a different kind of foe: lethal Burmese pythons.

While Everglades National Park does not permit hunting, it has authorized some 30 agents -- mostly private individuals -- to find and remove pythons, park spokesperson Linda Friar tells ABC News. The snakes, which are not native to the park, are rapidly gobbling up small mammals, thereby reducing the number of species present, say wildlife experts.

One agent, says Friar, is Tom Rahill, 57, a U.S. vet who six years ago founded Swamp Apes, an outfit dedicated to helping other vets get over their residual war trauma by spending time in the wild. Members of the group, he tells ABC News, volunteer to remove trash and invasive species from the park. 

Rahill tells ABC News that his group, since 2008, has captured 150 snakes. Its goal, he says, is to bag at least 200 next year.

This article was produced by ABC News
June 11, 2014 By ALAN FARNHAM via Good Morning America
To read the whole article, visit this link.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Artist-in-Residence-in-Everglades partners with Art Loft

Artists in Residence in the Everglades (AIRIE) is a program that offers artists the opportunity to live and work in Everglades National Park.

art loft is a weekly 30-minute art program that showcases local and national artists, openings, installations, performances, and art organizations that are positioning South Florida as an emerging leader in the world of art. art loft is designed to be a collaboration between WPBT2, local artists, producers and other PBS stations around the country.

For the loft is South Florida’s largest stage. The show propels their life’s work into every home with a television. It gives a voice and a home to the artists.

In July 2013, art loft had the chance to spend sometime with Harumi Abe, a Hollywood artist, during her AIRIE month in residence. Take a look into the AIRIE residency and Abe's experiences.

Click the link below to watch the video.

Published on Aug 15, 2013
Japanese visual artist Harumi is spending a month in the Everglades. She is using her experience to create pieces that remind her of home, as well as the places that fire up her creativity.

Abe's deeply personal work "134 Days and 21 Hours" is currently on display at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

To learn more about Harumi Abe, see blog 7/11/13 Hurricanes, Mosquitos, and an Artist, Oh My!