Hello, I am Claudia Martinez. I am an Economics major at Florida International University. This is my second semester taking Professor John Bailly’s classes and I am so glad I chose to be in his class. Not only was I able to explore Miami while taking his class but I was also able to take part in community service projects that he organized. I love Miami and everything it has to offer whether you are a resident of a tourist and taking this class helps me study more of it. To say the least, his class surpassed all expectation.
I volunteered for both Deering Estate and Bill Baggs State Park both of which were coastal clean ups. Bill Baggs is a state park that tours the lighthouse and the beach of southern Key Biscayne as well as a place for leisure bike riding and wildlife viewing. The State park also serves as a museum with insightful exhibits about its history. On the other hand, Deering Estate is a national landmark part of the National Register of Historic Places where the estate owned by Charles Deering resides. The estate has preserved artifacts that once belonged to the Tequesta civilization and has also preserved the estate that once belonged by Charles Deering. It is surrounded by a concentration of mangroves which keep the surrounding land true to its origins. Even though some may associate negatively with the mangroves and the fact that they block the view to the coast, Deering Estate has maintained a balance between mangroves and places reserved for the sea view.
Bill Baggs State Park
This is my first-time visiting Bill Baggs State Park, so as a new comer I was glad that Professor Bailey organized a cleanup and made this opportunity accessible to its students, specially during the pandemic when finding community service opportunities is difficult to find. I was glad to take part in the in this service project where I was able to be a part of the effort in helping Florida’s coast become cleaner while also bringing awareness of the threat of pollution that animals are exposed to.
Since I had volunteered at Deering Estate on my first semester, I was aware that one clean up was not going to be enough for this state park. However, the difference about coming to Deering Estate was that I was going to do a coastal clean up at Deering Point right next to the park. Snow that I had experience doing community service at this site from the previous semester, I knew that I was going to do community service there again but it would be a coastal clean up at Deering Point that was next to it. I was fortunate to see that they were still providing community service opportunities on the weekends to a large amount of people and I took advantage of this as spots for community service quickly run out.
Where and What?
Bill Baggs State Park
On 21 February 2021, my classmates and I got into small groups to help clear stubborn sand from one of Bill Baggs entry paths to the beach while other groups cleared weeds from the ground. As we cleared the paths from stubborn sand, my classmates and I were surprised to learn that using a bulldozer was not an option as it could hit limestone which could have potentially damaged it.
Deering Estate/ Deering Point
Also, at Deering Pont I was able to watch how pollution had accumulated in large quantities by the mangrove’s concentration. These types of marine debris arrive to the mangrove concentrations that eventually harm local wildlife who might eat it thinking that this marine debris is edible food. Both occasions felt like a workout but nonetheless, I am glad that I was able to witness, help and be a part of the cleaning of exceptionally beautiful sites such as Deering Estate and Bill Baggs State Park.
The first community service opportunity took place on 21 February 2021 at Bill Baggs State Park. The second community service occurred on 21 March 2021 at Deering Point.
As I reflect on both community service opportunities, I am grateful to be part of a project that aids in cleaning Florida’s coast and takes part in a bigger project to protect marine wildlife. As a person who loves to contribute positively to her community, I was so grateful to be part of these two projects where other volunteers and I became aware of the great quantities of pollution that accumulated and posed a threat to animals and plants. In the same manner, I love working in groups where I can help others accomplish new goals that also bring them the satisfaction of helping their communities. once While working on these projects, other volunteers and I became aware that volunteering for coastal cleanups was an ongoing effort that was not going to suffice just doing I once but that it was going to be a constant project that we must work on to maintain it clean and safe for local animals.
While being part of both coastal cleanups, I wanted to clean up as much of marine debris and stubborn sand as possible. Although I wanted to put a great amount of self-effort into the community service, I was more than glad to allow others do their part in the coastal clean ups and help them if they needed an extra hand. Through teamwork, we were able to pick up objects such as Styrofoam, shoes, bottles, masks, a paddle, and everything in between. Besides this, it was strongly recommended to stay hydrated and wear protective sunscreen and bring snacks during the excursion which helped maintain a source of energy.
After being part of many projects, whose efforts go to bringing awareness and cleaning beautiful habitats, I will continue to do what I can to do clean ups and help others stay informed about the beauty of these unique habitats and how they can help save them. I believe that if anyone can engage in such projects that aim to bring awareness and clean these unique habitats, they will not only do it once, but they would want to do their best in maintaining these unique habitats clean and safe for wildlife.