Thursday, August 29, 2013

Americorps Volunteers

Stephanie Carvajal is an AmeriCorps Member serving with Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade (RTMD). Her office hosted an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team comprised of 9 AmeriCorps members from June 10 to June 28th. “They are a hard working group of young adults,” says Ms. Carvajal.

During their stay in Miami, the NCCC team assisted RTMD on various projects. However, another stipulation of their service required the NCCC team to complete independent service hours outside of their regular service days. Executive Director Donna Fales thought it would be a great experience for the NCCC team to complete some of their service hours working in Everglades National Park. Fales explains, “The team members are not from South Florida and have therefore never been to the Everglades.”

On Sunday, June 30, 2013, the NCCC team, plus one local friend, worked with Ranger Kevin Bowles Mohr. The project was maintaining the popular Pineland trail and the parking area, 7 miles from the Visitor Center. They trimmed overhanging limbs and palm fronds, used shovels to remove clumps of dead leaves and accumulated dirt, and picked up any trash along the trail and around the parking lot. Prior to their Everglades service component, the NCCC team joined the 10:30am Anhinga Amble, a daily Ranger guided interpretive program. This is a typical service learning component associated with volunteer activities in the park. If you have a group and want to volunteer, please contact us today!

Pineland Trail
Trail Description: This trail loops through a forest of pines, palmettos, and wildflowers.

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes, though there are narrow and uneven places where roots have pushed the pavement up.

Bicycles Allowed: No

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shovel Nose Sharks

“Are there sharks in Shark River Slough?” For once, to a certain degree, Rangers can say, “Yes, the Shovel Nose Shark.” However, this isn’t the classic shark found in Jaws or the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. This is a shark that is more commonly found in the hands of volunteers, also known as a shovel.

President Truman once said, “Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky,” but he failed to foresee man’s manipulation of the land where now we have lofty peaks like Mt. Schinus as a result of Hole-in-the-Donut restoration, and military soil berms surrounding missile barns.  It’s those mountains, specifically the Nike berms, which are eroding onto the launch pads below. To maintain the integrity of the site, volunteers use shovel nose sharks to dig away the excess dirt and rocks, and replace it back onto the berms.

Truman also said, “Here are no . . . rushing streams.” Again, he perceived the natural world and not the manmade. Everglades National Park has one main black river with several tributaries. Although not free flowing like the River of Grass, the black river of concrete does allow traffic to flow freely.  Over time, the black river is merely an obstacle for the ever growing vegetation to consume.  Plants, and later on dirt, encroaches and accumulates on the banks and shorelines minimizing the navigable path of the black river and its tributaries.  Volunteers have come again with their shovel nose sharks to increase the capacity and usability of the roads, parking lots, and paved trails within the park.

Want to learn more and handle a shovel nose shark?  Contact the Volunteer Coordinator today!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August Equals Movies

August is the height of the summer season of heat, bugs, and rain. Enjoy the indoors with short films developed by our Artist-in-Residence-in-Everglades Program. 
To watch a video of our March AIRIE Fellows' creating their exhibit, follow the link below.
"Drawn from the Everglades is an undulating, large scale installation of twisted and gnarled paper that engulfs the spaces and surrounds the viewer, an immersive three-dimensional drawing based on their impressions of the Everglades. Wade Kavanaugh's and Stephen Nguyen's practice focuses on the collaborative process itself, resulting in abstractions of the entangled mangrove roots, waving sawgrass, and muscular storm clouds of the Everglades waterscape.
To see two videos from the June 2012 AIRIE Fellow, Deanna Morse, follow the two links.
 "Skin" - Tree texture as a metaphor for the human experience. Tree textures from the Everglades and Michigan, intercut with aging human skin. The cracks, wrinkles, knots and scares are an archive of their history.
"Kindred" - Connecting with nature at the Everglades up close. Sounds and images from the National Park.

Or read a book from our soon-to-be AIRIE Fellow in November, Bill Maxwell, Maximum Insight. A Florida native, Bill is a columnist for the Tampa Bay Times.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Special Volunteer Projects

Tire Removal

Every once in a while, there are special projects that are identified by the park and tackled by volunteers. Normally, they take several days to complete with many helping hands.  The project may be simple, but the work is arduous and time consuming.
In 2011, undeterred by heat and dense mosquito populations, four volunteer events transported ten tons of tires out of the Chekika area. All of the tires were transported to Miami-Dade County Solid Waste Management facilities to be recycled.

Parking Lot Stoppers

Another successful, yet exhausting project was the removal of 100 parking lot stoppers at the beach front area by the Flamingo Amphitheater. Due to the help of fifteen local volunteers, the view from the amphitheater and walk-in campsites is not disrupted by cement objects, but instead remembered for its beautiful scenery.

EcoPond Fence demolition

In 2012, the removal of a dilapidated fence around Eco Pond was completed. The fence was a safety hazard to the public, and obstructed wildlife viewing, especially birds. Girl Scouts, Alternative Break volunteers, and Outward Bound students all helped out with this endeavor.
In late 2013, plans are on the way to remove structures and equipment weighing ~14 tons from the Shark Valley backcountry. These outdated research platforms were once part of the Flume project – detecting the levels of phosphorous in the water.  Will you be a volunteer to help out?
Onsite View

Arial View of Flume Station

If you would like to volunteer for a service day, please contact the VIP office at 305-242-7752, or visit the Downloads tab for an application or the Current Opportunities for more information.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Eyes Wide Shut, Volunteer Artist

Eyes Wide Shut, 2010

August brings Susan Silas, her artistic photograpy with dead birds may disgust, but for her, it’s a must. It started with her work, Helmbrechts walk 1998-2003, exploring issues related to the reception of the Holocaust by the second generation. In 1998, she retraced the steps of a 1945 death march, walking 225 miles in Ger­many and what is now the Czech Repub­lic.

Eyes Wide Shut, 2010

“From the non-monumental memorializing of female victims in the work Helmbrechts walk, realized through my physical presence in the landscape, my work moved into a more metaphorical realm with the series of images and video works in found birds; 2000 - the present; works which explore the decay of dead birds.”

Susan Silas is a dual American and Hungarian national, born in New York City. Her works are cited in Unwanted Beauty; Aesthetic Pleasure in Holocaust Representa­tion, Landscapes of Holocaust Postmemory, Exquisite Corpse, The New York Times, and many other notable publications.

Self-Portrait Sessions, 2010

Lastly, Susan Silas investigates the passage of time of the middle-aged female face and body in her series, self-portrait sessions, by the ongoing plaster casting of her face since the mid-’90’s.

To read Susan Silas’ entire biography, please visit our website at