Hello, my name is Lukas Stump, I am an honors college student at Florida International University. I transferred from Miami Dade College, so this was my first semester at FIU. This semester I decided to take Miami in Miami as my honors course and I could not be more appreciative of it.
This semester I worked with my honors course to gain my community service hours. Two of our weekly meetups fulfilled my required 10 hours. The classes consisted of us canoeing to a key and picking up trash. We filled 12 canoes full of trash and were out there roughly 5 hours. After taking the trash back to the mainland we emptied it into a huge dumpster at the Deering Estate. In the second class, we went to the bakehouse art complex and rose awareness for our decaying reefs. We met up with some artists who were in collaboration with a scientist from the east coast whose goal was to save the coral reefs.
I chose to take part in these community service projects because I am very close to the ocean and feel what is happening to it is horrible. When I saw the amount of trash there was in one little key about one mile of shore, I became sick to my stomach. I grew up in Panama City, Panama, a small country in Central America that is kissed by two oceans, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean. My life growing up revolved around the water, I would surf, fish, swim, dive, and do many other aquatic activities in it with my family growing up. So, when I heard that I had the chance to do some good for the ocean, I felt obligated to repay it for all the things it has given me. I also thought about my future and how I would like to all things I did growing up with kids someday and their generations to come. It also seemed unfair how we treat the home of millions of different species that rely on the ocean. These animals do nothing to our homes and help us by feeding us, and all we do to repay them is to dump trash in their home, that is unfair. With the two projects I took part in, I was able to do something about it. Although it may have been small it was at least something. If people around the world would gather and just do a small part in trying to protect our oceans, we can turn this around. I could not believe how blind I was to the matter but thanks to this class I was able to realize it is a serious issue.
I was fortunate enough to find these community service opportunities thanks to my class Miami in Miami. Our professor John Bailly found these activities and put them as our class meet-ups. Due to the Corona Virus (Covid-19) it was difficult to find community service opportunities elsewhere. I was very grateful for every opportunity I had to give back to the community. This class inspired me to help when I can and proved to me that anything that helps the community or the earth counts, it is the little things we do that pile up to make a difference.
Where and What?
Deering Estate Chicken Key Clean up: For my first community service activity, I went with my fellow peers to the Deering Estate and canoed to Chicken Key. When we first arrived, we swam on the shore of the key and had a good time. Shortly after it was time to get to work, our TA Nicole Patrick handed us sandbags and we began to collect. The class divided into groups and some of us walked the shores and others worked the land. I was part of the group that walked the land looking for trash and debris. The amount of trash we collected was insane and what was found was gross. The trash varied from tiny plastic bottle caps to huge ten-gallon water reserve barrels, we even found nets and crab cages that can tangle sea life and drown them. After hours of collecting trash, we were able to fill thirteen canoes with trash. On the way back to the mainland (Deering Estate marina), the wind and sea shifted on us, it felt as if we were being punished for helping it. As our excursion ended, I stayed behind with some students to throw away all the trash we had collected, there was more than I originally thought.
Bakehouse Art Complex: As my second community service activity I went to the Bakehouse Art Complex in Allapattah, Miami. I was able to be apart of an amazing art project whose goal was to raise awareness and money to fight the decay of our reefs. Two artists collaborated with a scientist from the east coast and together they are trying to send a message. When we first arrived, the artists described what the purpose of the project was, and then we got to work. We were tasked with molding clay into reef shapes. After almost an hour of molding and filling up buckets, they gave us our new task. We were tasked with pasting the molds of clay to large structures and make sure they stuck on. The structures were meant to dry and crack so that they look like the decaying reefs in our oceans. As our day came to an end, we were able to finish a structure for the artists and help them make their deadline.
At the end of the day, I am truly grateful for being able to contribute to society and help with important causes that need immediate attention. The trash cleanup and the art project were only two things I did this semester for community service and now that I have gotten a taste of how fulfilling it is, next semester I will be doing more. The trash clean up helped me realize how serious of a problem humans have with disposing of their trash. We, humans, are destroying our oceans and killing sea life all around the world. The art project showed me how important our reefs are and that they are diminishing more and more every day. These two community service opportunities were both wonderful and because of them I want to do more and convince others to help our planet no matter the cause.