Tammy is a Junior at Florida International University majoring in International Business and is part of the Honors College. Tammy was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and just moved to Miami for Fall 2021. Tammy’s favorite hobby is playing tennis and she also loves to hang out with friends.
I volunteered at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Beach located at the end of Key Biscayne. This beach is considered to be one of the 10 best beaches in the United States. There are several beaches in Key Biscayne like Crandon Beach, Rickenbacker Causeway Beach, or Historic Virginia Key Beach. However, what makes Bill Baggs different from the other beaches is that you can find the famous lighthouse which is the oldest building in Miami-Dade County. People can visit the lighthouse by scheduling tours with the Park.
Before entering the beach, there is a path at the end of the route in were you walk through it to get to the beach and by each side of the path, there are palm trees and plants that need mulch to protect them from bare soil, prevent erosion, and protect the plants in general. Many volunteer opportunities that take place in Bill Baggs are cleanups on the beach, but there are not many volunteer opportunities to take care of the flora of the park.
This specific volunteer opportunity does not relate to my major. This volunteer opportunity was provided through the Honors College class named Miami in Miami. The class is guided by Professor John Bailly and the Teacher Assistant named Claudia Martinez. This time the class was also conducted by Ranger Shane Ziegler.
While doing this volunteer work does not relate to my major, International Business, it is similar to volunteer work that I have done in the past. For example, last semester I went to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Beach to clean the beach. This activity was not mandatory nor for a class. It was optional for students that wanted to volunteer in this activity through a club of FIU. We went at 9am and stayed cleaned the beach for 2 hours and then we left. As mentioned before there are many cleanups opportunities for this beach. Another volunteer opportunity I participated in was to do a cleanup on a small uninhabited island named chicken key. This volunteer work was also provided by my class Miami in Miami. We went to Deering State and from there we kayaked to Chicken Key which is a mile away. It was hard especially if you have never kayaked before in your life. We stayed in Chicken Key for 6 hours cleaning up the beach, even though Deering State organizes many cleanups throughout the year, it is not enough. We collected a great amount of trash and in the end, we took that trash back with us to Deering State. Even though none of these volunteer opportunities are related to my major it makes me feel satisfied and at peace with myself because I am helping the environment and places that are important here in Miami which is the city where I live.
In my opinion, this was a great experience and a good volunteer opportunity that our professor chose to do this semester. Last semester we did the Chicken Key cleanup and this semester we had the choice choose between the Chicken Key volunteer work or the Bill Baggs volunteer work which is the one that I chose because I want to give my perspective from a different volunteer opportunity that I realized this semester. The flora of the beaches is very important so they can be preserved in their best state. I connected with this opportunity because it was different from many volunteer opportunities that I have done in the past, I didn’t know that putting mulch around the palm trees and plants could be considered volunteer work.
Photographs taken and edited by Tammy Gomez // CC by 4.0
As the first picture above shows, my classmates and I worked together in order to do a better job, and this way we could finish the work faster and more effectively. This experience definitely brought all the students together. We had the opportunity to help the environment by doing volunteer work while also having fun, and this is one of the reasons why I chose the Miami in Miami class.
WHERE & WHAT
On April 6th we went to a beach in Key Biscayne called Bill Baggs. Bill Baggs is the last beach in Key Biscayne and has a gated entrance. We drove until the end where the lighthouse is located, then Ranger Ziegler explained to us what we had to do. First, we put mulch around the palm trees along the path that leads to the lighthouse, and then, we continued to put mulch on bushes while continuing the path to the right of the lighthouse. We took the mulch bags and put them along the path and once we were done, we opened the bags and used gloves for our hands, and garden rakes to distribute the mulch along the path as shown in the photo below.
Photographs taken and edited by Tammy Gomez // CC by 4.0
This volunteer opportunity was very specific and uncomplicated. The ranger explained to us what we had to do, so there was no way to be confused as the instructions were simple and straight to the point. Therefore, I think everyone did a very good job and there were not any problems while doing the work. I would recommend this volunteer opportunity for anyone who wants to do a different volunteer work at the beach rather than picking up trash. It makes you learn to work in group and you can bond with the other volunteers. Not to mention that you will not have to pay the entrance fee because you are a volunteer, and after you finish the volunteer work, you can stay at the beach for free until the sun sets.
“Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.” Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce, 23 May 2019, https://www.keybiscaynechamber.org/bill-baggs-cape-florida-state-park/.
“History.” Florida State Parks, https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/bill-baggs-cape-florida-state-park/history.