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!