Thursday, June 27, 2013

Miss Queen of the Coast Volunteers

Amanda Hatcher
At the end of April, the volunteer office received a volunteer request from Amanda Hatcher.  As she pursues her dream of becoming Miss Florida and Miss America, she decided to experience the Everglades through volunteerism.

"I am so honored to have had the opportunity to be an Everglades volunteer while representing the Miss America Organization as Miss Queen of the Coast 2013,” explains Ms. Hatcher. “I will never forget sailing out on White Water Bay with Hydrologist, Steven Tennis, studying the properties of water and its maintenance. We took samples, flow measurements, and monitored the quality and quantity of both surface and ground water.”

Working with Steve Tennis

Accompanying Mr. Tennis and Ms. Hatcher were park archeologist Paul O’Dell and the April Artist-in-Residence volunteer, Alice Raymond.  Mr. O’Dell provided information on archeological sites and the background of his position.  Ms. Raymond shared the philosophy of the artist-in-residence program, which completed Ms. Hatcher’s well rounded experience about Everglades National Park.

Next to a Brown Pelican
"I have always heard great things about the Everglades but never fully understood its true beauty until I had the chance to experience it for myself,” said Ms. Hatcher. “My involvement at the Park has forever changed my outlook and inspired me to spend more time preserving such beauty for generations to come.”

Since volunteering, Ms. Hatcher had the opportunity to discuss her experiences at the park during the 2013-2014 Miss Florida Orientation. She also wants to  discuss her volunteering experience with the Miss Florida judges and possibly on stage at the Miss Florida Pageant.

Miss Queen of the Coast
 “As a local titleholder and ultimately Miss Florida and Miss America, I will continue to promote and expand my involvement with Everglades National Park as an advocate and spokesperson. If you have not already visited the Everglades I would absolutely recommend it for anyone. It is truly a life changing experience."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Arbor Day in Everglades

Handful of Syngonium
For the last three years, Everglades National Park has hosted a volunteer event in recognition of Arbor Day, which occurs at the end of April.  Each year, the event has taken place in the Chekika District, which is open seasonally from December 1st to April 30th. 
Bagging Syngonium for the trash.

Due to the tropical environment of south Florida, common house plants like Syngonium and ornamental landscaping shrubs like Brazilian Pepper have become invasive weeds in the Everglades.  These weeds outgrow and compete with the natural vegetation for sunlight, water, and space. Instead of planting trees, volunteers pulled up by hand Syngonium and used loppers to cut back Brazilian Pepper.

Lopping Brazilian Pepper

If you would like to join a volunteer event, review the Current Opportunities. 

Begin exploring Chekika with this self-guided walking tour Read More »

For more information about hours of operation and directions, click on the picture below.

Mother/Daughter team

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Swamp Apes

Removing downed limbs
Not related to the Skunk Ape, the Swamp Apes are men and women who volunteer primarily to clear hurricane debris from the old Homestead Canal (aka the Bear Lake Canoe Trail [BLCT]).  The canal was dredged in the 1920s to establish road and canal links from Flamingo to Cape Sable. Investors had big plans for the area, but business did not take off so the road and canals fell into disrepair and were transitioned into canoe and hiking trails.  Over the past 15 years, the BLCT became impossible to navigate as a series of hurricanes tore up the adjacent trees.
Tom Rahill

Jim Brack, a retiree from Cutler Ridge and longtime volunteer at the park, noticed the blocked trail during a hike in 2008 and asked whether he could try to clear it. The park agreed, and Brack rounded up a group of volunteers who call themselves the Swamp Apes. The original group included Tom Rahill, the current leader of the Swamp Apes. They meet once a month, not pausing during the summer heat.
            "It's a really important trail to be cleared," explains Tony Terry, district Law Enforcement Ranger at Flamingo and supervisor of the Swamp Apes. "It allows people to get out into the back country without a two or three day trip."

Clearing vistas on the Anhinga Trail
Although they still have work to do, they already opened up the Bear Lake and Mud Lake Loop Canoe Trail in 2010. The BLCT is their primary focus, but the Swamp Apes volunteer to help trim trails and vistas in other areas of the park according to the park’s priority needs. For example, most recently they cleared vistas along the Anhinga Trail (AT). 

Outward Bound working with Swamp Apes

The Swamp Apes plan to keep going, clearing the old Homestead Canal where it continues on the other side of Bear Lake to the Cape Sables, and they're seeking volunteers. If interested, please contact the Volunteer Office at 305-242-7752
(Article includes contributions from David Fleshler via South Florida, June 2009)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June Artist-in-Residence & a Mural Project

June is the first month of hurricane season, but also the month to host our first performance Artist-in-Residence, Ana Mendez. Born in Miami, she is a professional dancer and danced for local choreographers as well as created work in collaboration with visual artists and musicians.  Her work has been presented by the Adrienne Arsht Center.

Ana Mendez with dancers in the Everglades
In 2008, Mendez co-founded a performance collective Psychic Youth, Inc. with artist Federico Nessi in which she began exploring ritual and ceremony in performance.  Her work has since evolved as a hybrid dance performance drawing from many rituals and traditions of Native American cultures, specifically in their use of the medicine wheel. 
Ana Mendez with dancers in Big Cypress

As a recreational hobby, Ana Mendez is a bird watcher and a frequent visitor to Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.  She is excited to explore her work further in its landscape.  She plans to present a performance at the close of her residency.

Mural Project, Gulf Coast

A unique Artist-in-Residence-in-Everglades opportunity will take place at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades National Park. We are currently accepting proposals for a mural to be painted inside an elevator shaft in the two-story visitor center.  The mural would be viewed from the elevator platform as it ascends and descends. Imagery should be inspired by the surrounding mangrove ecosystem, which is populated by fish like snook, redfish, and snapper.  Mangrove tree crabs and periwinkles crawl up the mangrove roots, and raccoons feed along the oyster beds.  In the trees and waters, wading birds such as egrets, herons, and ibis can be spotted.  Above the tree tops ospreys, vultures, and white pelicans soar over the estuary.  

The artist or team whose proposal is selected will be provided with housing or an RV pad on-site for up to one month, and the park will provide materials needed for the project. The mural can be started in October 2013.  The elevator shaft is 5.5 feet deep and 4.5 feet wide, and is 16 feet tall. The elevator shaft is not air-conditioned, but air does flow under the door way and down the shaft. Previous mural experience is preferred.

Interested artists may send the following materials on a CD to the address below by October 1.
·       A rendering of your design in JPEG format (no larger than 1500x1500 pixels)
·       Five JPEG images of previous work (no larger than 1500x1500 pixels)
·       A current resume, a 1/2 page project statement and a 1/2 page artist statement (PDF format)
·       A materials budget
For US Postal Service send to:
Andrew Webb
Looking into the elevator
Looking up the elevator shaft
P.O. Box 120
Everglades City, Fl 34114

For FedEx or UPS:
Andrew Webb
815 Oyster Bar Ln.
Everglades City, Fl 34114
For questions, contact Andrew Webb at