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?

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 www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm. The visitor center is after the park’s main entrance at 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Battle for the Everglades: Vets Versus Pythons by ABC News

(MIAMI) -- In the Florida Everglades now, it’s vets-versus-pythons, as survivors of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wrestle with a different kind of foe: lethal Burmese pythons.

While Everglades National Park does not permit hunting, it has authorized some 30 agents -- mostly private individuals -- to find and remove pythons, park spokesperson Linda Friar tells ABC News. The snakes, which are not native to the park, are rapidly gobbling up small mammals, thereby reducing the number of species present, say wildlife experts.

One agent, says Friar, is Tom Rahill, 57, a U.S. vet who six years ago founded Swamp Apes, an outfit dedicated to helping other vets get over their residual war trauma by spending time in the wild. Members of the group, he tells ABC News, volunteer to remove trash and invasive species from the park. 

Rahill tells ABC News that his group, since 2008, has captured 150 snakes. Its goal, he says, is to bag at least 200 next year.

This article was produced by ABC News
June 11, 2014 By ALAN FARNHAM via Good Morning America
To read the whole article, visit this link.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Artist-in-Residence-in-Everglades partners with Art Loft

Artists in Residence in the Everglades (AIRIE) is a program that offers artists the opportunity to live and work in Everglades National Park.

art loft is a weekly 30-minute art program that showcases local and national artists, openings, installations, performances, and art organizations that are positioning South Florida as an emerging leader in the world of art. art loft is designed to be a collaboration between WPBT2, local artists, producers and other PBS stations around the country.

For the artists...art loft is South Florida’s largest stage. The show propels their life’s work into every home with a television. It gives a voice and a home to the artists.

In July 2013, art loft had the chance to spend sometime with Harumi Abe, a Hollywood artist, during her AIRIE month in residence. Take a look into the AIRIE residency and Abe's experiences.

Click the link below to watch the video.


Published on Aug 15, 2013
Japanese visual artist Harumi is spending a month in the Everglades. She is using her experience to create pieces that remind her of home, as well as the places that fire up her creativity.

Abe's deeply personal work "134 Days and 21 Hours" is currently on display at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

To learn more about Harumi Abe, see blog 7/11/13 Hurricanes, Mosquitos, and an Artist, Oh My!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

“A” is for AIRIE, August, and Animator.

Karl Staven will join us this month from Philadelphia.

As an animator, I tend to look at time in a different fashion than many,” explains Staven. “Space and time are infinitely divisible or expandable with animation. Each second of screen time can take from 1 to 48 separate images to exist and seconds, minutes,

hours, days or more can elapse between the creation of one image to the next. Decades can be compressed into seconds and seconds can expand into hours.”

Staven intends to create a variety of animated photographic explorations of various environments available in Everglades National Park; possibilities include:

A. Photographing biological specimens to find patterns in shapes, colors and texture (for example, multiple pictures of many mangrove root patterns as they arc down into water or land can be lined up by size or shape to create an organic movement over time);

B. Exploring space from the level of a creature 6 inches high with the ability to have a small human embodying the point of view

C. A time lapse journey along major or minor trails with short visual explorations of interesting environments/fauna along the route

Learn more about Karl Staven at www.airie.org

Thursday, July 31, 2014

NPS Academy Intern, Dario Pedrajo

Dario Pedrajo is studying at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL, with a dual major in economics and environmental studies.  Growing up in Miami, Dario visited Everglades National Park (ENP) many times, but now he has a deeper understanding of this complex and fragile ecosystem through the National Park Academy and the Student Conservation Association partnership.

As an intern, Dario is involved in ENP’s day-to-day operations, and sees first-hand how the park is managed to protect the natural environment while encouraging public use. “I didn’t have much experience with public speaking before this, and was close to shock when forty people were waiting for one of my first interpretive talks,” remembers Dario.  After several occasions to practice and enhance his tour, Dario’s fear evaporates when he shares his knowledge of, and passion for, this amazing ecosystem.  “I may not be able to answer every question, but I am able to engage the interest of park visitors in how important their support is to the future of ENP and other natural areas.” 

When telling his South Florida friends where he works, Dario is dismayed when they do not show much enthusiasm to visit.  However, Dario knows it is somewhat uncomfortable with summer heat, humidity and bugs. “But summer in the Everglades is unique and awe-inspiring,” exclaims Dario. When not at the Visitor Center greeting guests, or answering phone calls at the Reception counter, Dario can be found on the trails trying to outpace a growing cloud of mosquitoes, or on his motorcycle trying to avoid collisions with swarms of dragonflies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Voluntourism, a partnership with a Hotel

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in partnership with Everglades National Park, essentially created the term voluntourism.

A letter to guests of Mandarin Oriental reads:

"Mandarin Oriental (MO), Miami is a member of the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, created by the United Nations Foundation and Expedia, Inc. to engage the travel industry to promote environmentally and economically sustainable business practices around UNESCO World heritage sites. Through our partnership, we are working closely with Everglades National Park (ENP) to learn about the challenges they face and to develop opportunities for the hotel to help through voluntourism programs. These interesting and fulfilling day trips include tree planting, recycling projects and weeding out exotic plants. We hope you take some time to learn more about this important World Heritage site during your visit with us. Please speak to the concierge if you would like to participate in our voluntourism program or to arrange a trip to the Everglades just to see this wonderful World Heritage site."

Below is an edited excerpt from an article in Points North Atlanta magazine, March 2011, as a result of the Everglades and Mandarin Oriental partnership. (pointsnorthatlanta.com

A Mission to Do Good in the Everglades and Feel Good in Miami.
Written by Heather KW Brown

“In my mind, I was bushwhacking through unchartered territory while alligators lurked in the thick soupy swamp around me. In reality, my biggest challenge was trying to keep oversized work gloves secure on my hands as I clipped overgrown palm fronds along a 1-mile asphalt trail. Precarious, it was not, but I had successfully immersed myself in Miami’s other “wild” side. It all started when I learned the Mandarin Oriental, Miami, located just an hour’s drive from the Everglades, had launched a voluntourism program, I couldn’t resist.

This is precisely how I found myself beside a knowledgeable park ranger and several other volunteers, all of us armed with shears and dutifully clearing a trail. We talked. We discovered new creatures. And when quiet settled in among our group, I’m inclined to think each of us was processing the experience. Truth is, I’m a beach girl whose love of nature previously didn’t include relinquishing a place in the sun or swapping a swimsuit for shears. That was just one of my pleasant surprises to come from my stay at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami.

Partnering with Everglades National Park, isn’t limited to the park itself. With my hands out, palms down, a masseuse pressed what she described as weighted tea bags made of naturally therapeutic ingredients up and down my back, legs and arms. And from this pampering came preservation: one live oak, bald cypress or gumbo limbo tree gets planted in the park for each guest who books the Herbal Thai Compress Ritual here at Miami’s only Five-Star spa.”
As a result of customers being pampered, on June 28, 2011, eight associates of MO spa braved thunderstorms and insects to volunteer, and successfully planted fifty-three trees.  A blog was subsequently posted about MO’s voluntourism on an online travel agency for the world's best hotels.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

NPS Academy Intern, Tricia Morgan

Tricia Morgan is interning at Everglades National Park for 12 weeks. From Richmond, Virginia, she will be a rising senior at Sweet Briar College to get a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. Ms. Morgan’s internship is a partnership with the Student Conservation Association and their National Park Service Academy program.

For the NPS Academy’s orientation week, Tricia went to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. This was her first time visiting a national park and Everglades National Park became the second park. Placed in the interpretation division, Tricia assists visitors in various ways. As part of her internship, Tricia leads interpretive programs along the Anhinga Trail at the Royal Palm Visitor Area.

“I help them plan their day, and educate them on and off the trail,” explains Tricia. “For most visitors, it’s their first time seeing the park for themselves and to be a part of their experience is an honor to me.”

Tricia has learned how important it is to make someone’s visit as pleasant and memorable as possible. Her absolute favorite part of the job is the kids that visit Everglades. They are excited to get out, go exploring, and become Junior Rangers. “It is an exciting experience to work here and to be the reason for someone’s smile is the cherry on top!”


Thursday, July 10, 2014

The EverGreen Partnership

Angelina Guerra is a volunteer intern at Everglades National Park via the Greening Youth Foundation for the summer of 2014. Currently in her fourth year at Florida International University in Miami, Ms. Guerra is majoring in Earth Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Studies. Ms. Guerra will graduate in December.

The Greening Youth Foundation’s (GYF) mission is to work with diverse, underserved and underrepresented young adults in an effort to develop and nurture enthusiastic and responsible environmental stewards.  GYF believes that youth and young adults from diverse backgrounds can greatly benefit from the career opportunities presented within federal land management sectors.  Accordingly, GYF and Everglades National Park developed a partnership to provide service and internship opportunities for young adults thereby creating pathways to conservation careers.            

To better understand the perspectives of how to use and manage the Everglades, Ms. Guerra visited one of the Airboat Companies that operate along the Tamiami Trail, near the entrance to the Shark Valley District of Everglades N.P. 
            Assigned to the Division of Interpretation, Ms. Guerra will be actively involved in providing guided interpretive tours on the Anhinga Trail, working behind the scenes on special interpretive projects, and greeting visitors in the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center.

“My experience at the Park so far has been awesome!” expresses Ms. Guerra.  “Everglades National Park is a truly beautiful and amazing place; I feel everyone should visit at least once in their life if they have the opportunity!” Come visit Everglades and Ms. Guerra and enjoy the splendors as she has, plus meet a future steward of our National Parks.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July Artists in Residence

For the month of July, we have two AIRIE artists, Daniel Dugas and Valerie LeBlanc. Dugas is a poet, videographer and musician. LeBlanc is a pluri-disciplinary artist. Her creations travel between poetry, performance, visual and written theory. Together, they work collaboratively on media projects, performances and writing.

“At the heart of our activities resides the desire to establish a rapport between what is experienced and what is imagined. We are interested in reaching out to involve people, in establishing links between artists and audiences. We see the Everglades National Park as an ideal setting to further explore this form of creative involvement.”

Specifically, LeBlanc and Dugas are interested in investigating the poetics of the Everglades as well as the history, changing territory of the natural world, and evidence of the presence of human activity there.

During their residency, LeBlanc and Dugas will develop Flow, a sound walk project. They plan to map out a series of walks, to gather field recordings and to create an aural archive of the environment. Upon completion, Flow will offer listeners poetic narratives to follow while walking through the park. A Google Guide Map will be designed and eventually made available to park visitors who will have the opportunity to experience the various sound walks through use of their phones.
Learn more about LeBlanc and Dugas at www.airie.org

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bonnie vs CLIDE

Meet Bonnie Ciolino: Museum Curator at Everglades National Park
Meet CLIDE: A Cumbersome, Large Item Damaged Extensively. (aka Map Storage cabinet)
The South Florida Collections Management Center was in a crisis.  Two of their map storage cabinets were malfunctioning and needed to be replaced.  When the new cabinets arrived, how was Bonnie going to replace the existing cabinets that are positioned 5 feet above the ground in tight quarters?  By the way, each cabinet measures 4’ x 4’ x 2’.  The answer, Bonnie needed volunteers.
Last August, 3 volunteers joined forces with Bonnie and the Volunteer Coordinator to remove the old cabinets and install new ones.  Working diligently, they moved storage boxes from atop the old cabinets, installed the tricky handles onto each drawer, and then wheeled the drawer less cabinets into position.  Although it sounds easy, there were complications.
On moving the first cabinet, a wheel broke on the dolly. Next, portions of the cabinets became unfastened and made transportation awkward. Lastly, minor adjustments had to be made in order for the drawers to fit properly.
In the end, two new cabinets were installed and Bonnie’s crisis was over.  Appropriate, safe storage was available to protect and preserve historical maps and other documents as part of Everglades National Park’s legacy. Additionally, the VIPs continued to work, but assembling and installing a credenza in the Interpretation offices.  This, however, was accomplished without any issues.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Alexander the Great

Paul Alexander has been dutifully volunteering for over 6 years. He is reliable, punctual, and never been a minute late for his shift in the Visitor Center.  Volunteering three times a week at four hours each, Paul provides a most valuable resource, his time. His time to interact and engage with visitors, and his time to allow employees to catch up on collateral duties, office work, and prepare for special events.  Paul is a dependable individual and truly helps out the Interpretation Division, not to mention a wealth of knowledge for all his visitor interactions.
Mr. Alexander’s background is what bestselling books are made of.  A veteran of the Vietnam War, Paul returned home and purchased and managed a gas station.  He has also been a Chief Law Enforcement Officer, a commercial deep sea diver, and owned, operated, and guided a fishing lodge in Idaho.  Most recently, he has perhaps contacted a person from every country in the Visitor Center.
As of May, Paul has decided to tackle other pursuits on his bucket list and resigned as a volunteer.  He has volunteered over 3,000 hours, the equivalent to 1.5 full time employees! Paul is a polite, humorous man, and many of us owe our Visitor Center Everglades spiel to his perfected script.  We will miss you.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

BioCorps Interns Capture Lizards, Count Fish and Survey Turtles in the Everglades

Two interns working in Everglades National Park (ENP) this year with support from the South Florida National Parks Trust (SFNPT) have been catching invasive lizards, counting fish and tracking sea turtles. The interns are considered volunteers, and work closely with many scientists in ENP.  The Volunteer Program, and ENP, are thankful for the support of the SFNPT.
Here's a report received May 14 from ENP Ranger Larry Perez about the two interns: "Marcella Cruz and Emma Hanslowe are both recent graduates in herpetology. They have spent the past four months working with the USGS Invasive Species Branch in Everglades National Park on a large-scale interdiction effort against the invasive Argentine tegu. And their contributions have been quite noteworthy: this has been a record season for tegu captures. As of last week 45 had been removed from the area! This week they are transitioning duties and will begin gathering creel (fish) survey data and conducting sea turtle surveys. Their assistance will allow the sea turtle work to proceed seven days a week through the summer. I cannot say enough about the wonderful work these two are doing and the quality of the contributions they're making to important programs in the park!"

Pictured: Marcella Cruz works with Bryan Falk of USGS to take blood samples from a captured Argentine tegu.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

June Artist in Residence, Brenna Dixon

For the month of June, we welcome Brenna Dixon, a Florida native, but currently living and working in Iowa.  Ms. Dixon is a writer and plans to use the residency to finish the collection of short stories -Sawgrass and the Broken Heart - that she drafted while earning her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University.

In her fiction writing, Dixon addresses the ideas of excess, loss, and monstrosity, as well as the nature of invasives in the Floridian environment. “I often look to craft elements of magical realism to tell a compelling story while engaging readers on the subject of Florida’s complex environmental issues,” she explains.

“My stories work to dispel the media-driven caricature of perfection in Florida’s environment and its inhabitants and express them, instead, as full-bodied and inseparable from one another,” says Dixon.  “The degradation, complications, health, and well being of Florida’s peoples and its environment are dependent upon one another.”

The residency will allow Dixon to reacquaint herself with the environment and represent it even more accurately in her work.  She will come home to the sawgrass, swamps, and salt flats that have shaped her writing.

Learn more about Brenna Dixon at www.airie.org

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Everglades, a LUSH environment.

Everglades National Park clings to the edge of Miami, a dramatically flat landscape that feels impossibly distant from the claustrophobic bustle of the city. As the sky opens up to reveal solitary egrets and lonely mangroves, we feel as if the miles had taken us back in time rather than down the road.

The four women I’m sharing a car with and I work for LUSH Handmade Cosmetics. As part of a commitment to ethical and sustainable business practices, LUSH produces a product called Charity Pot. Full of fairly traded organic cocoa butter and fragrant ylang ylang and geranium oil, all proceeds from the sale of Charity Pot benefit grassroots organizations around the world.

An important aspect of the Charity Pot program is partnering with local organizations to meet local needs. Nothing is more illustrative of Florida’s unique needs than a peek inside the Everglades. It is home to any number of iconic Florida plants and animals, a legitimately awe-inspiring experience of prehistoric beauty.

However, making that experience available to the students, scientists, artists and enthusiasts who visit requires a significant and ongoing effort. The caretaking of Everglades National Park is a never-ending job, full of back-breaking labor in an unforgiving environment. My colleagues and I chopped and dug and pulled and swept, swatted and knocked down various insect habitations and barely made a dent in the maintenance required to keep the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center safe and functioning for the thousands of people who come to encounter something unique to our home.

Ranger Kevin receiving a soothing LUSH spray
Service learning is about learning from the inside. It’s a pact where the National Park Service received some free - if woefully inexperienced - manual labor for a day, while what we received was so much more valuable. Rather than strolling through the park as spectators, we dug into it with a purpose, and in the process, learned a lot about the plants, animals and insects that populate our corner of the world.

South Florida is a hot, humid, bug-infested paradise. There’s a whole world outside the car window, one that we share with crocodiles and panthers and innumerable insects. The best way to be a part of that world – a world with a limitless horizon – is to dig in.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Accomplishments of Maurice Maze

Maurice installing an efficient fluorescent fixture

Maurice Maze is in his eleventh season of work at Everglades National Park. His contributions have benefitted employees and visitors in each district of the park by making improvements to communications systems, building lighting and general repair of electrical systems. Some of his major accomplishments over the years include;

        Repaired or replaced building lighting, emergency lights and installed new LED exit lights in the Coe visitor center, HQ, Bill Robertson and Dan Beard Centers and many other park buildings.
        Worked on the installation of energy efficient fluorescent fixtures in park buildings.
        Installed cellular amplifiers in Pine Island and Flamingo vehicles for better cell phone coverage in law enforcement vehicles.
        Troubleshot and repaired the LED traffic signal lights at the main entrance station.
        Maurice is always looking for better ways to accomplish the task and I use this next accomplishment as an example of his ingenuity.

Maurice solved a major communication problem for law enforcement staff. The rangers could not communicate back to dispatch from the portable radios at various locations in the park. The ranger could talk to dispatch with the mobile 50 watt Motorola radio installed in the vehicle, the problem was once he left the vehicle he could not talk back to dispatch with his portable 5 watt radio.

Maurice working on a light fixture at the Entrance Station

We requested Motorola to provide a solution which they responded with a proposal to add a digital vehicular repeater system at a cost of $1 0,000.00 each. Four vehicles would cost $40,000.00.

Maurice took it upon himself to research the Motorola manuals to engineer a system that would solve the problem at a much lower price. What he built was a system that used a second Motorola mobile radio as a receiver and connected this radio to the main Motorola mobile vehicle radio.

Now when the Ranger does a vehicle stop he calls dispatch while in the vehicle. Once they leave the vehicle he switches his portable radio to channel two which communicates to the second radio and retransmits the signal to dispatch. This solution has saved tens of thousands of dollars.