Thursday, October 2, 2014

Junior League of Miami at Everglades!

Junior League in the Swamp!
by Corrine Guerra
During a recent Pitch-In project, several Junior League Miami provisional members went down to the Everglades National Park to help volunteer with the park clean up.  Despite the title, we actually learned that the Everglades is not a swamp, but a flowing riverbed.
The morning started out extremely stormy, and we had doubts of ever getting down there, but a little thunder won’t stop a good volunteer!  We met Park Volunteer Coordinator Kevin Mohr in the visitor center parking lot and caravanned down towards Flamingo, the very last stop in the National Park.  After a forty-five minute drive, we pulled off at the side of the road, and were given a pair of hedge trimmers, gloves and very fashionable mosquito nets to put over our heads. Our laughing quickly stopped as we realized how important these were - those bugs showed no mercy!
After trimming down some of the overgrown trees to clear a path, we all got back in the van and continued down to Flamingo.  We walked together with our gear and fashionable mosquito hair nets to clear the heavy tropical underbrush on Bear Lake trail – careful to not step on any alligators or snakes!  As we worked, Kevin educated us about various plants and vines.
We saw wild orchids, giant airplants in bloom, and even a few Manchineel Trees.  Manchineel is a tree that emits a poisonous sap, and it is what killed Ponce de Leon!  At the end of the day, we had not only helped clean up the park, but we learned so much.  This experience reconnected us with nature, which so many of us forget about with the hustle and bustle of every day city life.  This project was a wonder experience full of great memories and all of us volunteers would gladly go back!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Last Blog by VIP Coordinator Kevin

Some Park Service personnel tend to transfer from one park to another throughout their career. I will continue to be a Volunteer Coordinator, but as a collateral duty in my new position as the Chief of Interpretation at Washita Battlefield National Historic Site.Thank you for taking the time to learn about volunteers and Everglades National Park.
Kevin giving a tour after volunteers finished working.
Kevin providing a safety message to a group.
Kevin with a visitor after giving an interpretive orientation to the park.

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.