Thursday, April 25, 2013

Take a Break and Experience Something New

Tour of the Nike Missile Barn
Everglades National Park invites you to enjoy, explore, learn, and give back during the last weekend of National Park Week. April 20-28, 2013.

Everglades National Park will mark the annual celebration with special events on Saturday, April 27, and on Sunday, April 28.  From restoration work at the historic Nike Missile Site on Saturday to exotic plant removal and trail trimming at Chekika on Sunday, park volunteers can make an impact.
Removing weeds from the Nike Site

To commemorate Volunteers-in-Parks Day on Saturday, April 27, work will be done at the Nike Missile Site, one of the Nation’s best preserved sites from the Cold War Era, which was built in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Due to the rapid growth of vegetation, regular maintenance is required to prevent damage to the infrastructure. Volunteers will remove brush and weeds from the fence line, launch site, and berms surrounding the missile barns. Attending volunteers will also enjoy taking part in a guided tour of the Nike Missile Site.
To close out National Park Week 2013 and celebrate Arbor Day, the Chekika District will host an event for the third year in a row on Sunday, April 28.  In the Everglades, common house plants and ornamental landscaping shrubs become invasive weeds. To protect our native habitat from exotic species of plants, volunteers will pull up by hand Syngonium and use loppers to cut back Brazilian Pepper.

Disposing of exotic plants

Take a break and experience something new, enjoy some fresh air, get some exercise, and make a difference. National Park Week’s Volunteer Day and Arbor Day is a great time to get up, get out, and explore a park.

Future Events

May 3 – Retrieve Marsh Rabbit Traps, Flamingo, RSVP required
May 18 – Armed Forces Day, Work at the Nike Missile Site
May 19 – International Day for Biological Diversity, Work at Shark Valley
June 1 – National Trails Day, Work on main park road Trails

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Alternative Spring Break Volunteers - Helping Hands by the Numbers!

Trash Collection at Cape Sable
Over the course of the 2013 Spring Break time frame, 17 Alternative Spring Break (ASB) volunteer groups came to Everglades National Park (EVER) ready to make a difference in our beautiful National Park! The groups averaged 10-15 students who each volunteered about 5 hours per day.  In order to accommodate the 200+ student volunteers, EVER collaborated with Biscayne National Park (BISC) and Big Cypress National Preserve (BICY).           
Redefining the pavement edge

ASBs are hardworking, dedicated students who want to have meaningful experiences, and give back to the greater good of humanity.  They travel from Wyoming and Pennsylvania, Canada and Florida, and include aspiring herpetologists to English majors, business students to engineers, and outdoor enthusiasts to city dwellers. Their typical work week involved volunteering Monday-Tuesday at EVER, Wednesday was a day off to explore the park and surrounding communities, then volunteer at either BISC or BICY on Thursday-Friday.  This provided a diversity of experiences in different Parks and volunteer projects.  It was a great success.  

Removing brush along the fence at the Nike Site

ASBs diligently worked to clear most of the vegetation growth from the Nike Missile Base, remove exotic plants from Shark Valley, Chekika and the Hole-in-the-Donut restoration area, trimmed brush on trails, roadsides, and around facilities in all districts, and even camped out on Cape Sable and collected more than 20 bags of trash!
Pulling exotic Brazilian Pepper

Even though Spring Break is a high season for Alternative Break volunteers, Everglades National Park also receives Alternative Fall and Winter Break students, too. Are you a college student or know someone that is? Please recommend that they research the possibility of joining an Alternative Break volunteer group and come to the Everglades!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Everglades National Park’s Volunteer-In-Park’s Program wins the George and Helen Hartzog Award!

In 1970, George B. Hartzog, Jr., who was then the director of the National Park Service, established the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program. The program started with a few hundred volunteers. Today, more than 220,000 VIPs donate their time, skills, and talents to the National Park Service every year.
Eleven years ago, through generous donations from George and Helen Hartzog, the George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service were started to recognize the time, talent, innovation, and hard work contributed to national parks through the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) Program. Each year awards are presented in five categories: Individual, Youth Program, Volunteer Group, Park Volunteer Program, and Enduring Service. 
I am excited to share with you that Everglades National Park is the 2012 recipient of the George and Helen Hartzog Award in the category of Park Volunteer Program.   
In the last 5 years, Everglades National Park’s volunteer program has seen a 150% increase in volunteers and nearly a 50% growth in contributed hours due to strategic planning and focused collaboration.  Exceptional accomplishments that allowed the volunteer program to achieve this goal included updating the Park’s Volunteer Handbook, creating a bilingual (English & Spanish) park specific volunteer site bulletin, the creation of Poisonwood Pages and a successful collaboration between Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and Biscayne National Park to host 28 Alternative Spring Break groups in a two month period.

Everglades National Park's volunteer program coordinator Kevin Bowles Mohr recently flew to Washington DC to attend the award ceremony. Kevin was lucky enough to meet several important people in the National Park Service including Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service.
I would like to congratulate Kevin Bowles Mohr for his dedication and hard work in growing our VIP program; and thank you to everyone else who made this accomplishment possible- staff, supervisors and volunteers!
Superintendent Dan B. Kimball