Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Volunteer Opportunity this Saturday, National Make a Difference Day !

Everglades National Park Hosts National Make a Difference Day !

HOMESTEAD, FL: On Saturday, October 25, 2014, Everglades National Park will host an event to encourage the public to enjoy the beautiful weather, observe wildlife, and help the park maintain one of its best backcountry trails.  Working at the Long Pine Key Nature Trail, volunteers will trim brush, clean up trash, making the area safer, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing for visitors.

Volunteers will meet at Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center Parking lot at 9:00 am.
The event will end approximately around 2 pm, but volunteers are not required to stay the entire time. Be prepared for hot and humid weather.  Participants are required to wear long-sleeved shirts, boots, and long pants to protect against exposure to sun, biting insects, poisonwood, and ivy. ! If volunteers are dressed inappropriately, they will not be able to participate.

We will provide all work materials.  Please bring a lunch, water, hat, and sunglasses. Participating volunteers will receive a free entry pass, enabling each volunteer to visit the Everglades again and share this unique National Park with their family and friends.

Directions: Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center: 40001 SR 9336, Homestead, FL 33034
Volunteers coming from the Miami area and northern destinations should take the Florida Turnpike (Route 821) south until it ends merging with U.S.1 at Florida City.  Turn right at the first traffic light onto Palm Drive (State Road 9336/SW 344th St.) and follow the signs to the park.  The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center will be on the right.
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 395 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

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?