Victoria Jackson: Miami Service Project 2021

Photo Taken Of Victoria Jackson in 2020. Photo by Nigel Courtney/CC BY 4.0

Student Bio:

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.

WHO?

I completed my service hours at three different locations. The first location was at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park where I went as a part of Professor Bailly’s class to have a cleanup on the beach. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park offers a range of debris cleanups and land maintenance opportunities for volunteers to participate in. The second location was at Crandon Park where I was a participant of the Youth Service Earth Fest. The park is not only home to this organization but hosts a variety of different groups who can aid in cleanups, gardening, and upkeep. The Youth Service Earth Fest works with volunteers to complete beach cleanups, plantings, and beautifications (“Youth Service Earth Fest”). The third location was at Feeding South Florida. Feeding South Florida provides different opportunities such as food inspection and food sorting for volunteers to participate in to help provide those in need with meals.

WHY?

Due to the pandemic, it was challenging to find volunteering activities that were still open and following the guidelines that the CDC put into place. A large majority of these have been outdoor cleanups and planting, and some have been through organizations that are still ongoing. I was able to participate in one through my class at the Honors College and two others after learning more about them online. I was happy that I was able to come across these different volunteer activities and that I was able to make a difference in the environment and people’s lives.

HOW?

Bill Baggs State Park:

On February 17th, 2021, our Miami in Miami class at the FIU Honors College helped the park workers in cleaning up the landscape near the beach after our class. I felt connected to this project because I was glad to do my part in helping this amazing park. It was the first time I was really visiting and learning about the history of the park, so that inspired me even more to do what I can to help the environment.

Youth Service Earth Fest:

On April 18th, 2021, I participated at Crandon Park to help with planting pollinator plants after learning about it online. I felt connected to this activity because gardening has always been an interest of mine and something I wanted to learn more about. Since it is Earth month, they are holding different events throughout the month and I knew that I had to take part.

Feeding South Volunteer:

On April 20th, 2021, I participated at Feeding South Florida to help sort food to be shipped to those in need. This activity really resonated with me because during a time where everything feels so out of control and so many people are suffering, I felt that I could control this aspect and really make a difference in peoples’ lives.

WHERE & WHAT?

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park:

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The class on February 17th, 2021 began at 10:00am. After connecting at our designated meeting point, we set forth on our tour of the lighthouse and the area around it while we were given our lecture. After lunch we got ready and carpooled to a different section of the park where we eventually broke off into groups. After each group was given their assignment, we all set of to complete our individual tasks.

Photo Taken Of Victoria Jackson and Brittney Sanchez in 2021. Photo By Komila Kholmatova/ CC BY 4.0

We first started by adjusting the sand on the sides of the path to its natural location using a garden fork. Because of large vehicles that needed to go down that path, the sand started pilling up on the side. We then collected a variety of trash and dead and scattered tree branches and twigs that were then placed in the garbage pile. This was followed by the class working together to scoop sand into a forklift that was then transferred to a different area in the beach. After we finished, we were able to enjoy the rest of the day at the beach which was a fantastic way to end the day.

Youth Service Earth Fest at Crandon Park:

Photos Taken And Edited By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

On April 18th, 2020 I arrived at Crandon Park to begin the Earth Fest activity. We were introduced to the team working with the program as well as the person who was providing the plants for us to garden. We then made our way to the circle area where the planting was taking place. There we learned more about the plants and why were planting them. The goal was to place pollinator plants in the garden to attract more of our native butterfly species. They even told us that one of the plants was used as starch by the Tequesta tribe who were a group of people who lived and inhibited the land before us.

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

The group proceeded to spread out and start their individual activities. The area was separated into four quadrants and we planted along the edge of each one. After we planted both the small and small-medium sized plants, we placed rocks along the edge of each quadrant bordering the plants in. After, we went between each of the plants placing mulch over the top of the soil so that moisture will be retained. After finishing the area, we were free to explore the rest of the park and even go on the beach.

Feeding South Florida:

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

I arrived at the Pembroke Park location of Feeding South Florida on April 20th, 2021 to volunteer for two shifts. I promptly checked in and waited in a small vicinity in the warehouse. I was then given an orientation on the different jobs and their description and then made my way to the part of their warehouse where we were working. The volunteers were split into two major groups, the food inspectors, who examined the food for any damage and made sure it was still healthy to consume, and food sorters, who separated and boxed the food into different categories. I was part of the food sorters and worked on separating and boxing the food that was eventually taped up and shipped out. By the end we were able to separate and sort enough food to equal around 6,100 meals. We then cleaned up and got the area ready for the next shift.

Photo Taken By Victoria Jackson/ CC BY 4.0

After a break period I began the second shift and took on the same role as I did the first time around. Even though the number of volunteers was smaller than the first group, we were still able to accomplish a great amount and sort enough food to equal 5,000 meals toward the end of the shift. We then sanitized our stations and were free to leave.

WHEN?

SUMMARY:

I am so appreciative that I was able to experience these different activities. Regardless of the limitations, I am glad that I was able to do my part. Seeing how much we were able to accomplish at the end of every opportunity was not only gratifying but extremely inspiring and pushed me to want to do even more for my community. I left each volunteer activity with a new perspective and newfound respect and admiration. I will continue to volunteer but also take more time educating other people as well and try to inspire them to volunteer and make changes in their life as well.

CITATIONS:

“Youth Service Earth Fest.” AllEvents.in, na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Famp%2Fs%2Fallevents.in%2Fmobile%2Famp-event.php%253fevent_id%3D200020921587048&data=04%7C01%7C%7Cfa2d7a494c26405b3a4a08d9052fb3f9%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637546524700028670%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=yTqvIeEp07Z8%2BcSwMeHy9uNjnVZEr2tVzlZuLwFBfD8%3D&reserved=0.

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