Hello Everyone! My name is Victoria Jackson, and I was born and raised in Miami Florida. I am junior in the Honors College at Florida International University studying English-Education. Outside of school I love travelling, reading and dancing. I am looking forward to exploring the place I have called home, seeing and experiencing the different wonders Miami has to offer and creating memories with the rest of my classmates.
I completed my service hours at two locations. The first location was at the Deering Estate where I went as a part of Professor Bailly’s class to have a cleanup at Chicken key and in the Mangroves. The Deering Estate offers various volunteer opportunities like ground upkeep, coastal cleanups and for different special events (“Volunteering Opportunities”). The second location was The Art Bakehouse Complex. The Art Bakehouse provides different volunteer opportunities like working and collaborating with different artists. I volunteered here as a part of Professor Bailly’s class as well.
It was very difficult to find volunteering opportunities that matched up with my schedule and that I was able to attend because of the Pandemic. It was so amazing that as a class we were able to have different opportunities to participate in different volunteer activities. I love engaging and taking part in projects that benefit the environment and bring more awareness to the conservation efforts.
– Chicken Key:
On October 14th, 2020, our Miami in Miami class at the FIU Honors College canoed to Chicken Key to gather waste. I really felt connected to this project because it was such a new and worthwhile experience for me. I really enjoyed my first canoe ride while looking at the beautiful scenery and doing the cleanup felt very gratifying. It felt good to do my part for the betterment of the environment.
–The Bakehouse Art Complex:
On October 28th, 2020, our Miami in Miami class at the FIU Honors visited the Bakehouse Art Complex to work with Lauren Shapiro on her project. The whole activity resonated with me and I felt really connected to it because of the message and the vision of the project.
On December 2nd, 2020, our Miami in Miami class at the FIU Honors canoed into the mangroves to collect trash. I felt connected to this activity because it was like our first trip to the Deering Estate. The canoe ride was just as amazing as last time. It was challenging but fun to weave through the mangroves to collect the trash.
WHERE & WHAT?
The class began on October 14th, 2020 at 10:00 pm. While we adorned our life jackets and picked out our paddles we were put into pairs and then we each picked a canoe. One by one we set off with empty bags in the middle of the canoe to Chicken Key. My partner Lukas and I eventually reached the island where we tied up our canoe and walked on to shore. After regrouping we set off to start collecting the debris.
We collected a variety of items like shoes, wrappers, bottles, glass, pieces of plastic and string. We had different breaks in between for lunch and for water breaks so that we were able to stay hydrated. At the end of our cleanup trip, we jumped in the water and it was such an amazing way to end the day. With our canoes filled with trash, we slowly made our way back to the Deering Estate. When everyone was back on land, we saw that we filled over 6 canoes with garbage.
-The Bakehouse Art Complex:
On October 28, 2020 I arrived a little earlier than the rest of the afternoon class and I started with the activity. Once a majority of the morning class left, the afternoon class gathered around local artist Lauren Shapiro to explain her vision for the project, and that was the structure was a representation of our dying coral reefs. Once we got our instructions, we broke off into two groups. One group was molding the clay against the stencil and then placing it in a bin while the other group worked on placing the completed clay shells on to the structure. We alternated between both jobs freely while getting tips and having conversations with the other artists. By the end we were able to complete a whole side of the structure and make good progress on all of the other sides.
December 2nd, 2020 allowed us to have another cleanup day that was similar to the first. We met up at Deering Estate just like the previous time but instead of going to Chicken Key we were heading to the mangroves. Just like the previous time we partnered up, this time I was with Louis who was from the previous class, got ready and set off. There was a lot more wind this time around which caused some of us to drift off or run into branches. After we finally got back into a group we drifted through different sections of the mangroves and admired the beautiful and calming view. Once we got to our destination, we tied up our canoes and went through a bit of a challenging period of getting out of the canoes and not falling into the deep water. Once we were all out, we started collecting the debris. We collected balls, bottles, large containers and large variety of other things. Once all the garbage was in the canoe, we slowly made our way back in the canoes. The wind was very strong, and everyone started drifting apart. Once everyone made their way back to the mainland, we emptied out our canoes and dumped all of it in the trash.
I could not be more grateful to have the opportunity to have experiences like this. Seeing the product after each volunteer service gave me such a gratifying feeling. It was great working as a collective to do what we can to better the environment. It sparked a newfound appreciation within me that I was able to take with me and use to start making more changes in my daily life.
“Volunteering Opportunities.” Deering Estate, 27 Aug. 2020, deeringestate.org/volunteer/.