Nicole Patrick: Miami as Text 2019-2020

Photo by Kenneth Camacho (CC by 4.0)

Hello, everyone! My name is Nicole Patrick. In three words, I would describe myself as organized, kind, and determined. I am a senior at Florida International University and its Honors College studying Hospitality & Tourism Management with a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in the subject. During my time at FIU, I have been able to take part in many opportunities, such as being a student leader in Panther Camp, Honors College, and Campus Tours, volunteering and coordinating a spring break service trip to Puerto Rico with Alternative Breaks, studying abroad with Hospitality at Sea, and gaining professional experience with the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. My passions in life include volunteering and traveling, specifically eco-tourism, sustainability, and culture-immersive experiences. I aspire to make the world a better place by giving my time, energy, and dedication to the environment and the people that live in it. More information about me and my journey in this class can be found on my Instagram page.

Haven completed the FIU Honors College seminar Art Society Conflict taught by Professor JW Bailly in 2018-2019, I fell in love with his immersive teaching style. I am currently enrolled in Miami In Miami taught by Professor JW Bailly for 2019-2020. As part of the course, I completed two Ineffable Miami projects: North Miami Beach and Allapattah. Additionally, I served the community in the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters through organizing cleanups of Chicken Key. Below are my Miami as Texts.

FIU Honors College students riding the Miami Metrorail on Metrorail Day.
Photo by Lily Fonte (CC by 4.0)

Metro as Text

“Side Effects”

by Nicole Patrick of FIU at Miami-Dade Metrorail, 15 September 2019

Driving is one of my least favorite activities. It requires 100% concentration. You must calculate how long it will take you to arrive. It has unpreventable side effects like getting nudged between two semi-trucks, receiving the occasional bird finger because someone was not having a good day, slamming on your brakes because someone thinks it’s okay to go five miles below the speed limit in the left lane, and the worst side effect of all: being in a stand-still not once, but twice a day. Once in the morning and again in the evening. No matter where I decide to go in Miami, I will run into at least one of the above things.

Riding public transportation is one of my favorite activities. It does not require 100% concentration. You do need to calculate how long it will take you to arrive. It has unpreventable side effects like getting to take a nap while you wait to arrive, initiating the occasional conversation with the passenger next to you, sitting in an air-conditioned metro car, and the best side effect of all: getting to relax because you are not driving.

Miami-Dade County’s public transit system is called the Miami Metrorail. It has a total of two routes: one that starts in Hialeah and one that starts in the Miami International Airport. Both routes end in Dadeland South. Having ridden metro systems before in places like New York City, Barcelona, and Madrid, I have seen my fair share of systems and have seen both positives and negatives in each one. For the Miami Metrorail, it was definitely one of the cleanest and simple.

Somethings that I did notice; however, were the speed of the system and the lack of passengers throughout the day. The amount of time spent at each stop varied. As in one stop, the car waited for about three minutes another waited one minute. I also had to wait almost 10 minutes at one stop for the car to arrive. In most metro systems, that is unacceptable. In those systems, the trains are constantly running and will stop for about one minute at each station.

Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau states that Miami-Dade County has over 2.7 million residents. In a city this large, you would expect for the Miami Metrorail to be full, but that was not the case. It turns out that according to Miami Matters, from 2013-2017, only 5.2% of workers commuted by public transportation in Miami-Dade County. I believe this is because of the lack of accessibility to the Miami Metrorail to the entire county. Sadly, the system only runs on the eastern side of the county at the moment, which makes it nearly impossible for all residents of the county to utilize it on a frequent basis. With environmental concerns being of high importance in today’s society, I believe that the county should begin looking towards ways of improving the Miami Metrorail to decrease its carbon footprint and increase sustainability. As commuters, we must look at the side effects of both driving and riding public transportation.

Which side effect would you prefer?

Nicole Patrick sitting in front of the painted marble fireplace in The Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.
Photo by Nathalie Sandin (CC by 4.0)

Vizcaya as Text

“Vizcaya: A Miami Staple”

by Nicole Patrick of FIU at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, 29 September 2019

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, exemplifies Miami. Each time I have visited, I am amazed by the Mediterranean style villa that was built for James Deering. Vizcaya magnifies the lavish Miami life-style we are known for. Sadly, that is not the truth for most Miamians with the median income of the city being $51,362. Given our expensive reputation, many individuals are known to give the façade wealth. Surprisingly, Vizcaya displays this unfortunate side of Miami through its marble pieces. There are a number of marble walls that are not marble, but are hand painted to look like marble. Since marble was too expensive at the time it was built in 1922, it was cheaper to give the perception of marble without the cost of the material.

Aside from the fake marble, Vizcaya and its gardens are filled with recurring objects and figures that link Miami to other cultures. Some of the “hidden Mickeys” are the ships, seahorses, dragons, and faces of bearded men. The ships and seahorses tie to the ocean. The dragons correlate to the story of the dragon-slayer Sant Jordi from Catalonia, which where James Deering had spent his time prior to building Vizcaya. The carved faces of men with beards can be found near the river entrance which reference to the many Roman river deities. You can find numerous styles of differing cultures in the estate, such as Baroque, Renaissance, and Mediterranean. Vizcaya represents the diversity of Miami with incorporating themes from all over the world, such as Christian paintings created by a Jewish artist and a replica of a Roman sculpture: The Thorn. Many would describe Miami as a melting pot: the point in which differentiating cultures blend.

Vizcaya’s irony is how, with incorporating other identities and being as extravagant as possible, it perfectly represents Miami with all of positives and negatives.

Nicole Patrick pictured in the Culter Bay Fossil Site at The Deering Estate.
Photo by John Bailly (CC by 4.0)

Deering as Text

“A Step into History”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at The Deering Estate, 20 October 2019

Stepping into The Deering Estate is like stepping back in time. Once the group, led by the estate’s director Jennifer Tisthammer, passed the gate, we viewed a world foreign to urban Miami: nature. The lush ecosystem is filled with trees, plants, spiders, mosquitos, and butterflies all living in harmony. It is hard to believe there is a mountain in Miami, but The Deering Estate has it.

We hiked through mud, trees, and plants while dodging spiderwebs to make our way 24 feet above sea level in the Cutler Fossil Site. The remains of various animals, such as dire wolves, mammoths, saber tooth tigers, and giant sloths, remind us that we are just a small fragment in the long history of life on Earth. Specifically, you realize that there is more to Miami than the sun, beaches, cafecitos, and ventanitas. It has been a place of life for thousands of years.

Tequesta and paleo natives called Miami their home. They had established the Miami we know today. However, these people are nearly forgotten because of the limited information we know from them. There were families, tribes, groups of humans living here, but we do not know their names. We do not completely know their story. We do not know what they had looked like. These people have almost been forgotten by society.

However, The Deering Estate reminds us that we must not forget our past. Instead, we must step into our past to understand our future.

Nicole Patrick canoeing to Chicken Key.
Photo by Juliana Pereira (CC by 4.0)

Chicken Key as Text

“One Class One Cleanup”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Chicken Key, 3 November 2019

A big passion of mine is the environment and the maintenance of a safe place in which all living things can prosper. I have been involved in a number of cleanups in South Florida and Puerto Rico. Each one ceases to amaze me. This past week, I had the opportunity to help somewhere that only a small number of individuals have. With my classmates led by our Professor John Bailly, I cleaned up Chicken Key. Chicken Key is a small island off the coast of Miami Dade County in Biscayne Bay. As a class, we teamed up in pairs and paddled our way one mile from The Deering Estate to Chicken Key. As we got closer, the image of ropes, containers, and flipflops started to form. My partner, Juliana Pereira, worked together with Jose Ernesto to fill up an entire canoe. We made the effort to go into parts of the island that others avoided. I looked angered at our canoe overflowing with trash because we did this. Maybe not us specifically, but as a human race, we did this. And we continuously utilize single-use products. We purchase flip flops that we often loose. We have become so obsessed with materials that we often forget to walk outside.

On Wednesday, October 24, 2019, our class was able to fill nine canoes of trash. Unfortunately, we were not able to collect everything. Each day, more trash piles on Chicken Key and all coastlines.

As a society, we have to come together, stop focusing on ourselves, and begin looking at the world around us. As my one class did, so can others. 

Nicole Patrick dining at Giache Crepes.
Photo by Alexandra Rodriguez (CC by 4.0)

Wynwood as Text

“The Rise, Fall and Rise of a Neighborhood”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Wynwood, 10 November 2019

What drives social change? Well, to me it is the people who dare to question topics rarely discussed. It is those that act upon their words rather than speak. I have found that many times these individuals are artists. Many choose to stir away from the status quo, which only makes them more popular. Miami’s Wynwood has become the epicenter of contemporary art. Prior to its fame, Wynwood had gone through a rollercoaster of prosperity.

It was established in 1917 and was an area filled with manufacturing plants and factories, such as Coca Cola and the American Bakeries Companies. Also, factories began moving north, migrants starting moving in. In the mid-1950s, Wynwood was referred to as “Little San Juan” after the capital of Puerto Rico because the population was mainly Puerto Rican. As a Puerto Rican, it makes me proud to know that my people made an impact and had a place to call home in Miami. However, as the neighborhood began declining, it became considered as a lower middle-class neighborhood and it was no longer a place that families wanted to stay in. As rent rates in other areas, such as Coconut Grove, began pushing out artists, they had to find other areas to work.

This brought the South Florida Art Center out of Coconut Grove and into Wynwood. From there, the neighborhood has done a complete 360°. As I mentioned before, artists start social change. The artists’ movement to Wynwood completely changed the dynamic. Soon collectors began entering the area, such as Martin Margulies and Carlos and Rosa De La Cruz. These collectors look for pieces of cultural consequence. Something that causes you to ask questions and converse with others.

Personally, my biggest takeaway from Wynwood Day is to do what you feel is right, not necessarily follow the status quo, do not just talk about it. Do it. As the artists and migrants do. Soon the rest will follow.

Buena Vista Trolley located inside of the HistoryMiami Museum in downtown Miami.
Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

HistoryMiami as Text

“Miami’s Story”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at HistoryMiami Museum, 24 November 2019

Located in the center of downtown Miami right next to the Miami-Dade Public Main Library, lies the HistoryMiami Museum. If you are not looking for it, it is most likely you will miss it in the mix of the large skyscrapers of downtown. Despite its difficulty to find, HistoryMiami’s contents inside are something to note. The museum goes in chronological order of Miami’s history—highlighting the start of life in the area with Paleo-natives and the diverse flora and fauna that is difficult to visualize in the South Florida ecosystem.

HistoryMiami’s mission is to “…safeguard and share Miami stories to foster learning, inspire a sense of place, and cultivate an engaged community” (About the Museum). It most definitely accomplishes through displaying and sharing stories that are not necessarily in classroom textbooks, such as forgotten names of history like Black military leader Francisco Menendez and Coconut Grove photographer Ralph Munroe. As our informative and gracious guide Maria Moreno—HistoryMiami Educator—noted on our tour, she and the museum believe that it is important to know both the positive and negative aspects of our history. One of the negative pieces is that there was an extreme and long history of segregation and discrimination that existed in South Florida. As visitors sit inside the Buena Vista trolley car, they are amazed by the technology and convenience that existed in the past; however, as they look up, they are stunned by the original sign stating, “State Law White Passengers Seat from Front.” At this moment when visitors realize that the segregation that existed in the South during the 1900s was also occurring in Miami. Emotion begins to fill the trolley as visitors imagine the discrimination that occurred in the very seats they currently sit in. Moreno then began telling stories of black and Hispanic Miamians during that time. Towards the end of the museum, there is a sense of triumph and sacrifice that is felt as visitors listen to the stories of immigrants who have risked their lives to reach Miami and change their lives forever.

HistoryMiami leaves its visitors wanting more. As the museum continues to evolve its featured collections, I hope that they expand to give justice to all the important parts of Miami history in which it briefly mentions and does not have the physical space to display.

“Singularity” by Faig Ahmed
Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Miami Art as Text

“A Miami Shift”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach, 4 December 2019

During one week, Miami changes from sun, sand, and shopping to art, ambiance, and awareness. Thousands of people flock to Miami every early December to attend Miami Art Week. During this time, there are hundreds of events that revolve around art. One of the notorious, well-known fairs is the UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach. This year, the fair had a focus on the environment, identity, tradition, modernization, and globalization. The works in the fair included all forms of mediums from all over the world.

The beauty of art is that it can bring awareness to a certain issue without telling but showing. Art conveys the emotion of the time, the issue, and the problem. The work of Faig Ahmed takes the traditional work of handmade woolen carpet and alters it. Ahmed, originally from Azerbaijan, examines how the world is changing and the transformation of perspective. As a society, we are continuously moving on to new trends. Ahmed’s work causes others to pause from whatever activity is taking place and focus their attention on the piece. Many times, we do not give a second thought to woven carpets that are typically found in our elders’ homes. It is a time of reflection, which is the point that changes the Miami perspective.

Miami Art Week causes a shift through conversation, so go out enjoy the culture, speak to others, and learn the stories.

Nicole Patrick slough slogging inside Everglades National Park.
Photo by Vivian Acosta (CC by 4.0)

Everglades as Text

“Inside the River of Grass”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Everglades National Park, 22 January 2020

On a cold January morning, FIU Honors College students set out to the Southwest edge of Miami-Dade County. We were about to do something we have never done before: slough slogging. If you are wondering what that is, it is hiking through the differing depths of the Everglades’ River of Grass. As we drove inside the 1.5 million acre-large Everglades National Park, it was as if we were being transported to another world. There were no buildings, lights, or cell-service. We were truly in the wilderness of the 305.

Once we arrived at the slough slogging area, Park Ranger Dylann Turffs handed us our sticks and guided us as we took our first steps into the chilly water. Park Ranger Turffs explained how vital the Everglades is to South Florida’s ecosystem. Everglades National Park was founded “in 1947 to conserve the natural landscape and prevent further degradation of its land, plants, and animals” (“History & Culture”). Throughout the years, the Everglades has been used for different purposes. Native Americans had lived and thrived off its landscape. Settlers and farmers used it for agriculture and draining. Today, many groups and the National Park Service work to conserve, preserve, and restore the Everglades. As a class, we discussed mankind’s role in nature while trying to find how far is too far. As Park Ranger Turffs enlightened to us, this question is something that is debated about, and there is no definitive answer yet.

The more I walked in the River of Grass, the less fear I had. I began to branch away from the class, finding new pathways. Words can not do justice to how one feels inside the double dome of the Everglades. It is as if you are in an underwater forest. You can stand there and listen to the silence. Only hearing the birds as they fly overhead and seeing the spotted garfish as they swim by your feet. At a moment when we were about to end our slough slogging adventure, a gust of wind came in and all of the cypress trees began to sway as if saying goodbye to us. Slough slogging is a South Florida treasure that South Floridians need to experience. This experience teaches visitors to appreciate the little things like a breeze or a woodpecker.

View from rooftop of Courtyard by Marriott South Beach Hotel.
Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

South Beach as Text

“A 105-Year-Old Town”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at South Beach, 8 March 2020

When one imagines Miami, they picture South Beach. The area of South Beach is on the south side of the island of Miami Beach. It is known for its notable Art Deco architecture, proximity to the beach, and nightlife. The South Beach we know today is far from the unsettled farmland it was before 1870. In that year, the Lum brothers purchased 160 acres of Miami Beach to grow coconuts; however, this did not happen and in 1894, the land was given to a man called John Collins. He then purchased more land and discovered freshwater in the area.

At that time, visitors were coming to Miami Beach through ferry. Collins had the idea to build a bridge to connect the island of Miami Beach to the rest of Miami. In 1913, the construction began and soon later, as, with many projects, construction stopped due to a lack of money. That is when Carl G. Fisher gave $50,000 to complete the “Collins Bridge” and got 200 acres of beach land. Using his fortune, Fisher developed grand hotels and oceanfront estates on his property. During this developing time, none of the early beach developers sold to Blacks. Additionally, there was social discrimination against the Jewish population. Hotels and apartments had large signs that stated “Gentiles Only” to keep Jews out. Jews were only allowed in the southern area, which was developed by the Lummus brothers. In the 1920s, the land boom made Miami Beach into a place of the rich and elite. The hotels were always sold out. It did not last though, the hurricane of 1926 and the stock market crash in 1929 halted the Miami Beach boom.

On the other hand, this pause did create a benefit: “Restrictions on Jews began easing as developers became increasingly desperate for sales…” (The 100-Year Story). However, the same was not for Blacks. All hotel workers had to carry an I.D. card, but Blacks had a curfew that stated that they could not be outside in white neighborhoods after dark.

The market crash did not affect Miami Beach for long. In the 1930s, hotels and apartments began popping up and the signature Art Deco style forever changed Miami Beach. At this time, Miami Beach was very popular with the Jewish community. Many chose to stay and retire there, which is something Fisher could not have imagined.

In the 1960s, the island became a retirement community for “snowbirds” to live the rest of their lives on the beach. With prices going up, retirees no longer could afford the cost of Miami Beach and began moving inland, which caused the island to become almost a ghost town.

Then in the late 1980s, Miami Beach rose again. This is due to many factors like the population show “Miami Vice” and the “cocaine cowboys” that ran the city. It turned into the tourist attraction it is today with hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs lining the streets. Miami Beach continues to transform as time goes by. After 105 years, it has lived many lifetimes. From being a very segregated town to becoming the center of LGBTQA+ inclusivity in the county, no one could have imagined the Miami Beach of today.

Works Cited
“South Beach History.” Web. <>.
Viglucci, Andres. “The 100-year story of Miami Beach.” Miami Herald. 21 Mar 2015. Web. <>.

Miami in Miami group photo after volunteering at Lotus House.
Photo by Katy Roth (CC by 4.0)

Lotus as Text

“The Organization Miami Needs”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Lotus House, 11 March 2020

In November 2019, while visiting the Margulies Collection in Wynwood, Martin Margulies introduced Miami In Miami to the Lotus House. Mr. Margulies explained to us that he founded the Lotus House and that the entrance fee to the Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE goes towards the Lotus House as well. As stated on its website, “Lotus House is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless women, youth and children. We provide sanctuary, support, education, tools and resources that empower them to heal, learn, grow and blossom into who they are truly meant to be.”

Fast forward to March 2020, our class spent our last in-person class volunteering at the Lotus House. Our day was filled with tasks, like cleaning, organizing, sanitizing, and serving meals. Due to the growing pandemic of COVID-19, the shelter is taking all precautions in ensuring the safety and health of its all the guests and employees. My particular role was to disinfect the children’s playroom and the dining room. I worked with my classmate, Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda, to efficiently and effectively sanitize the toys and structures inside the room. As we cleaned the books, the titles reminded us of our favorite books from when we were younger. I was amazed by the facilities and programs, such as the Thrift Chic Boutique that gives guests working retail experience in the thrift shop. Lotus House provides a safe, positive, and encouraging environment to help these women and children.

My classmates and I were glad to assist the Lotus House team. We spoke and worked with many of the leaders who work for the shelter. Something that stood out to me was that these women were previously guests at the Lotus House. Each one of them has their own story of triumph and perseverance. Thanks to the Lotus House, they are role models and leaders that impact the guests because they were once in that position.

The Lotus House is the organization that Miami needs. It can house 680 women and children annually. I am proud to have given my time to Lotus House because it is making the change and difference in numerous women’s and children’s lives in Miami.

Customer line to enter Costco in Pembroke Pines, FL.
Photo by Diana Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Quarantine as Text

“A Quarantined Moment in History”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU in Quarantine, 18 March 2020

It is currently my fourth day being in quarantine at my home. It began on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. On that day, the FIU community was notified that all study abroad programs for Summer 2020 have been canceled. This decision affected me as I was scheduled to attend the Hospitality at Sea Europe program in late April, which takes place on a two-week cruise. The following day, FIU to remote learning until at least April 4th, this has recently changed to the end of the Spring 2020 semester. Also, all FIU employees are encouraged to work from home starting Monday, March 16th. This decision also affects me as I hold two jobs at the university. This has been a huge transition for me since I am typically at FIU every day for class or work.

Here we are, four days into quarantine due to COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. The virus has spread almost worldwide since January when it surfaced in China. Since then, it has taken the world by storm and the media has nonstop coverage on it. This has caused a panic in society. To me, this situation reminds me of the Netflix film Bird Box. There is utter chaos in the people as they run from an invisible entity that controls people’s minds. I have only gone outside to walk my dog and buy groceries in Costco.

In public, you can see the paranoia in the customers’ faces. Many of them are wearing gloves and face masks to protect themselves. It honestly felt like Darwin’s natural selection as men and women entered the store to find their fruits, cleaning products, or toilet paper. You can see how people are panic buying due to the fear of the unknown.

I believe this chaos is occurring due to the media and the unsanitary habits of society. As I mentioned earlier, the media is constantly covering the story of the coronavirus. So much that it has caused a panic in everyday people. A thought that surprises me is that businesses and public accommodations have been making announcements that they are disinfecting their entire facilities. Something that shocks me is that they have not been doing this. Pandemic or no pandemic, all facilities must be cleaned for public safety. Unfortunately, it is a common stereotype in society to have a negative connotation associated with custodians and janitors. However, this is one of the most vital positions in any business. Without a sanitary environment, patrons will not want to visit.

Although I can not tell when this pandemic will end, I hope that when it does, this causes a shift in safety standards in terms of sanitation in businesses and public accommodations. We are living in a moment in history.

Manatee inside the Boat Basin at the Deering Estate.
Photo by JW Bailly (CC by 4.0)

Deering Estate as Text

“The Line of Palm Trees”

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Virtual Deering Estate, 21 March 2020

During my time in Professor John W Bailly’s classes, I have visited the Deering Estate a countless number of times from touring the inside of the Stone House and hiking through the pine rock lands to exploring the Tequesta burial ground and cleaning Chicken Key. The Deering Estate provides a unique experience each time you visit.

I remember the first time I entered the estate. I was in awe. I felt as if I was transported to somewhere else. The Deering Estate is filled with diversity.

One of my favorite locations on the property is the boat basin. It is found on the eastern side of the estate where the land meets Biscayne Bay. The unique shape of the basin was completed through exploding dynamite inside the limestone ground in 1918. Many times, one can find marine life swimming inside, like manatees, fish, and rays. Sitting on the edge by Biscayne Bay and the lined palm trees, I feel a sense of peace and gratitude.

Another factor of the boat basin that brings me joy is this is where we depart and return for the Chicken Key cleanups. Every time I come to this spot; it reminds me of the number of times we have gone to Chicken Key to collect marine debris. On our canoe ride back, we have numerous bags of random items that wash up on the shores of the island. I am very thankful to the Deering Estate for allowing us to come back each time to clean up Chicken Key.

The Deering Estate provides a unique experience to all, whether a Miami native or not. There is history, nature, architecture, and environmentalism. I will be a lifelong visitor, canoeing back to the “lighthouse” of lined palm trees and the home of manatees by the boat basin.

Nicole Patrick: Miami Service 2019

Photos by Vivian Acosta, John Bailly, and Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)
Video by Nicole Patrick

By Nicole Patrick of FIU at Chicken Key, 10 November 2019

In order to understand a community, one must serve it. As one of the most rewarding parts of this class, we serve our community through volunteering. Miami In Miami, as a class, volunteered at the Deering Estate’s Chicken Key, which is an uninhabited island located inside of Biscayne Bay.

Through the power of social media, I was able to recreate our class’ experience for other students. Solely through word of mouth, I was able create a group of 22 FIU students and alumni to volunteer in the Chicken Key Cleanup. With my professor John W Bailly, I had participated in the cleanup two times, so I knew what to expect. In order to have a successful time, I created a schedule and structure for the entire day:

Chicken Key Faciliation sheet by Nicole Patrick.

In anticipation of the cleanup, I sent messages to members via our WhatsApp group chat explaining what we will be doing, what time we will be meeting and finishing, and what items to bring. This way, all the volunteers were aware of what we were doing.

On November 10, 2019, the current was very strong, so I encouraged the volunteers to partner with someone who balanced their canoeing experience. For example, someone who had no experience with someone who had a lot of experience. This way, they could work together in canoeing about one mile to Chicken Key.

It was pretty nerve-wracking to be hosting my first ever cleanup, but something that I learned it that sometimes your position is to lead. It was hard for me to see everyone working so hard while I made sure everyone was alright and posted on The Deering Estate’s Instagram page and story. This may seem very minuscule, but it was very different for me. Typically with cleanups, I attempt to feel accomplished by picking as much debris as possible. However, as Bailly had put it, my role brought everyone together. Without me taking the initiative, the cleanup would not have been possible.

I am very humbled and grateful for my leading experience and all of the volunteers that came. Together, we filled eight canoes with debris that we collected off of Chicken Key. During our reflection, each volunteer had taken something out of this experience from communicating directions while canoeing to paying attention to the details in collecting micro plastics. I am very excited to take what I had learned from November 10, 2019 and use it on my next cleanup, which will be on December 21, 2019.

Below, you can find the posts I had done on Deering Estate Instagram:


Nicole Patrick: North Miami Beach 2019

Student Bio

Photo by Kenneth Camacho (CC by 4.0)

Hello, everyone! My name is Nicole Patrick. In three words, I would describe myself as organized, kind, and determined. I am a senior at Florida International University and its Honors College studying Hospitality & Tourism Management with a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in the subject. Born and raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida, FIU has brought me to Miami and taught me the positives and negatives of South Florida. With taking Miami In Miami with Professor John W Bailly, I have learned to see a location from what it is and to not be afraid to also criticize it. For my Ineffable Miami project, I chose to focus on the city of North Miami Beach because I constantly commute through the city to enter FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus. Learn more about North Miami Beach below.


North Miami Beach (NMB), not to be confused with Miami Beach or North Miami, is located on the Northeast side of Miami-Dade County. It is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Miami Gardens, Ojus, Aventura, Miami Gardens, Sunny Isles Beach, Golden Glades, and North Miami. Given its name North Miami Beach, one would believe it is located on the beach; however, that is not the case. NMB only has 0.3 miles of waterfront and it is the intercoastal waterway, not the Atlantic Ocean. It is mostly made up of land, which is almost five miles worth (“North Miami Beach, Florida,” 2019).

The layout of the city is unique as seen in the map below. As you can see, Interstate 95 (I-95) serves as the northwestern border and the train tracks serve as the eastern border of the city limits.

Snapshot of NMB GIS Map. North Miami Beach, FL: public domain

With typical South Florida weather, NMB’s temperatures range from the low 60s and high 70s in November through March to the mid-70s and low 90s in April through October. Its rainy season occurs between May and October with common flooding due to its elevation of 10 feet above sea level (NOAA).

The city is a very extreme urban environment. As in, the city has nine main roads with many smaller residential roads relatively close to them. It is tremendously developed, as in almost every space plot of land available has some sort of usage.

NMB’s natural landscape is quite the opposite of what it is today. It has limestone soil, amid lowlands, marshes and a wide variety of plant species including mangroves. NMB has been declared a Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation for the past 31 years. There are many neighborhood parks in the area as well.

Trees on 163rd Street. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)


10,000 years ago, South Florida was inhabited by Tequesta Natives. There is no published evidence of them living in North Miami Beach such as fossils; however, they are said to have lived in the region.

According to the city’s website, the area of North Miami Beach was established by Captain William H. Fulford. During the Spanish-American War, Captain Fulford, a member of the Coast Guard, patrolled the peninsula of Florida. In 1881, he explored an area that was surprisingly calm in comparison to the strong Atlantic Ocean. During this time, the federal enact the Homestead Act to attract settlers out west by offering 160 acres of free land. As a result, Captain Fulford gained 160 acres of part of what is North Miami Beach today (“Our History”).

As settlers came into the area, some farmed while others realized the rocky soil was perfect for mining. Rock mining began in the early 1900s and it was found that the rock quality was ideal for road building. The mining continued and created multiple lakes in the area (“Our History”).

Underlayers of North Miami Beach rocky soil from Greynolds Park, which originally was a quarry. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

In 1912, the design of the area drastically changed. Lafe Allen, a former newspaper owner, purchased Captain Fulford’s original 160 acres plus 400 acres to create his “perfect city.” At this time the city became known as Fulford By-the-Sea. The plans included “80-foot-wide residential streets and 100 and 125-foot wide business thoroughfare” (“Our History”). There was a land boom in the 1920s where people from all over the United States came to invest. The real driver of this Florida Land Boom was Merle Tebbets, who brought people by the busloads to give his land sales pitch.

With this continuous growth, more features were brought to the city, such as the Fulford-Miami Speedway. It was to be the winter auto racing capital of the world with the world’s fastest “board track” of wood. Unfortunately, due to the weather of South Florida, the speedway held only one racing event, which sold out. The Fulford-Miami Speedway was completely demolished by the hurricane of 1926 (“Our History”).

Speedway after 1926 hurricane. Our History: public domain

“The hurricane essentially ended the South Florida real estate boom, and it did not flourish again until after World War II” (“Our History”). During hard times is when the power of the people can be seen. At that time local neighborhoods and towns came together to become the City of Fulford in 1927.

In 1931, the city limits changed and acquired 3 miles of beachfront property. This new addition caused the name to change from Fulford to North Miami Beach. This change was a strategic decision to increase the number of visitors and residents from the Miami Beach area. In the 1950s and 1960s, the completion of State Road 826 and the first regional mall in Florida made NMB more accessible and brought in many people (“Our History”). The Governor of Florida Claude Kirk even created a video entitled North Miami Beach: Gateway to Interama to attract more visitors and Americans to North Miami Beach (1967). Interama was an imaginative idealistic city in the early twentieth century that brought together the Americas (“Interama: Miami and the Pan-American Dream,” 2009). However, Interama was never built, but the video portrays NMB as the Interama with all the amenities that a modern city would need while having a tropical climate year-round.

Advertisement postcard for the Atomic Construction Co. at North Miami Beach. State Archives of Florida: public domain

Throughout the 1980s to 2000s there was an emphasis on beautification and development. In September 2000, the city began its neighborhood construction improvements on streets, sidewalks, lighting, and landscaping. Now, it goes by the motto “Where People Care” (“Our History”).

With all of this talk about growth, here are the statistics. In 1938, the US Census denoted that 2,129 citizens of NMB. In 1955, it grew to 10,000. Today, the city is just over 45,000 (“Our History”).

With the city continuously trying to grow and be the best since its start in 1912, no one could have predicted the actual amount of growth and the implications of it.


Although Miami-Dade County does not have a Chinatown or a Little Italy, many describe North Miami Beach as being the epicenter for multicultivation.

Jamaican Folk Revue performing at art opening on Jamaican Independence Day – North Miami Beach, Florida. State Achieves of Florida: public domain

The population today is estimated to be 45,887 with 51.7% being female and 48.3% being male. Its population density is 8,602.2 people per square mile (“QuickFacts North Miami Beach city, Florida,” 2018). The median age of the population is 38.5 years old.

This map defines people per square mile. Beige means less than 100 people per square mile, Yellow means 100-999 people per square mile, Orange means 1,000-9,999 people per square mile, Red-Orange means 10,000-99,999 people per square mile, Red means over 100,000 people per square mile. “Surging Seas: Risk Zone Map.” Climate Central: public domain

The median household income is $40,316, which is less than the median annual income of the United States ($60,336). The average male salary is $58,931 while the average female salary is $44,078. 19.7% of the population (8,610 people) live below the poverty line. The largest demographic living in poverty are Females between the ages of 45 and 54, Females between the ages of 25 and 34, and Males between the ages of 35 and 44 (“North Miami Beach, FL,” 2017).

79.3% of the North Miami Beach population are citizens. The most common race is Black alone, which is 16,900 people. The second most common is Hispanic or Latino which are 16,700 people. The third most common racial group is White alone, which is 8,300 (“North Miami Beach, FL,” 2017). There are 1,420 Asian alone residents, 397 residents of two or more races, 313 residents of some other race alone, 0 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander alone residents, and 0 Native American & Alaska Native alone residents (“North Miami Beach, FL,” 2017).

One North Miami Beach local is Jensy Matute Guifarro, 21. She moved to NMB in 2017 from West Palm Beach to attend Florida International University. She explained to me that North Miami Beach “…is very homey and it truly feels like a community. A lot of the shops…nearby [that] have very friendly staff especially when it comes to stores that are not from big corporate companies. I love being able to drive through and find a park on every corner and also be…close to the beach.”

Jensy Matute Guifarro at Oleta River State Park. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)


Fulford-By-the-Sea Monument

Photo of Fulford-By-the-Sea Monument. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Constructed in 1925 as part of the Fulford-By-the-Sea construction. It was intended to be five fountains at points of the city; however, the hurricane of 1926 and the end of the Florida Land Boom stopped the progress in the project. As a result, only one fountain was built and it serves as a symbol for NMB, which can be found on its flag (“Fulford-by-the-Sea Monument,” 2016).

City of North Miami Beach Emblem: public domain

St. Bernard De Clairvaux & The Ancient Spanish Monastery

The Monastery of St. Bernard De Clairvaux was constructed in 1133 AD and completed in the North of Spain. In 1925, William Randolph Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings. From there, the structures were dismantled, carefully packaged, and placed on a ship for the United States.

Photo of Ancient Spanish Monastery pamphlet at The Ancient Spanish Monastery. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

The cost of this ordeal became so great that Randolph Hearst could not reconstruct the building and the crates remained in a warehouse in New York for 26 years (“History.” The Ancient Spanish Monastery). Upon Randolph Hearst’s death, the stones were purchased by two entrepreneurs and the monastery was reconstructed stone by stone. The task was called the “biggest jigsaw puzzle in history” by Time magazine in 1953. It took 19 months and $20 million to recreate the monastery.

Ancient Spanish Monastery. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Today, it houses the Church of St. Bernard de Clairvaux and a labyrinth. It is also a popular photography location with an entrance fee of $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students and children (“History.” The Ancient Spanish Monastery).

Ancient Spanish Monastery labyrinth entrance. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Greynolds Park Observation Mound

One of the most notable features at Greynolds Park is the “Observation Mound.” Standing at 46 feet above sea-level, it was once the highest land point in Miami-Dade County. To many visitors’ surprise, the mound did not occur naturally as it is mostly a large pile of abandoned rock crushing machinery, railroad ties, and limestone.

Observation Mound at Greynolds Park. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

The recognizable feature of the mound is the platform on the top with spiraling walkways and staircases that to the summit where climbers can see far and wide the landscape of the park (“Greynolds Park History”).

View from the Observation Mound at Greynolds Park. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)


Oleta River State Park

Florida’s largest urban park is over 1,000 acres. It was involved in the original discovery of this area with Captain Fulford. Big Snake Creek (now Oleta River) was part of the route used by Federal troops in the Second Seminole War to travel south from Loxahatchee in 1881. The river links the Everglades with Biscayne Bay (“History.” Florida State Parks).

Entrance to Oleta River State Park. Photo by Jensy Matute Guifarro (CC by 4.0)

Today’s park has various amenities and activities for visitors, such as bicycling, camping, primitive group, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, paddling, picnicking, rollerblading, snorkeling, swimming, walking and running, weddings, and wildlife viewing (“Experiences & Amenities”).

Kayaking entrance inside Oleta River State Park. Photo by Jensy Matute Guifarro (CC by 4.0)

The park is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. until sundown. Admission is $6 per vehicle, $4 Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle, and $2 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass. It also offers cabin rentals for $55 per night (“Hours & Fees”).

View from Oleta River State Park. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Greynolds Park

Greynolds Park was originally a quarry owned by A. Q. Greynolds. In 1933, the Miami-Dade County Parks department realized it needed a park in the north end of the county. A deal was made with Mr. Greynolds. In exchange for donating 110 acres, the park would be named after him. Thus, Greynolds Park was created and is Miami-Dade County’s second oldest park, dedicated in 1936. It has received many additions like Boathouse, several unique picnic shelters, and a 40-acre 9-hole golf course (“Greynolds Park History”). In the 1960s, the park was popular with hippies participating in “Love-ins,” which were “public gatherings, held as a demonstration of mutual love or in protest against inhumane policies” (“love-in”). In 1983, the park was declared a historic site (“Greynolds Park History”).

Entrance to Greynolds Park. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Today, the trees and grounds make visitors feel as they are transported in another place in the world, not North Miami Beach.

Nicole Patrick climbing a tree at Greynolds Park. Photo by Jensy Matute Guifarro (CC by 4.0)

Entrance into the park is free; however, parking is not. Visitors can either Pay by Phone or pay at the meter.

Metered parking at Greynolds Park. Photo by Jensy Matute Guifarro (CC by 4.0)

Hazel Fazzino Park

North Miami Beach has many local neighborhood parks. One of the newest ones is Hazel Fazzino Park. It completed construction in March 2019 and features a Children’s Playground, ADA Exercise Center, and Shelter (“Hazel Fazzino Park [Phase 3],” 2018).

View of the Hazel Fazzino Park. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)


Most of the population has an average commute of 30.5 minutes and commutes by Driving Alone (75%). The average household owns two cars. NMB is near SR-826, I-95, and Tri-Rail Commuter Rail. 8.39% of the population carpools and 9.99% use public transit (“North Miami Beach, FL,” 2017).

Public Transportation

NMB Lines

NMB Lines are trolleys that run throughout the city of North Miami Beach.

North Miami Beach Line trolley. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

The trolleys offer three routes, providing valuable, six days per week access to more desired destinations. The vehicles feature multiple surveillance cameras for rider safety, onboard Wi-Fi, as well as real-time arrival updates through their “NMB Transit app.” Also, NMB Lines are completely free (“NMB Line”).

NMB Line routes. NMB Line”: public domain

Miami-Dade Transit (MDT)

Metrobus in North Miami Beach. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

NMB has 16% of all Miami-Dade Transit Bus routes; however, there are no Metrorail nor Metromover in Northeast Miami-Dade (“Getting Around NMB”). This lack of Metro stations creates more reliance on the Metrobus and vehicles, which causes a lot of traffic and congestion on the main roads of NMB.

Metrobus stop at Florida International University Biscayne Bay Campus. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)


Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin

This may seem odd to some, but finding a vegetarian restaurant that has good options is quite difficult for vegetarians. I am not a vegetarian, but I do know a few of them who struggle finding options. The restaurant has been called one of the top health-food restaurants in Miami. Its prices are a bit on the high side. For example, it costs $14.95 for the “All-American Cheese Burger” which is a seitan seasoned burger with tomato, lettuce, cheese, ketchup, mayo, pickles & onions (“Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin”).

Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Ginza Japanese Buffet

It offers authentic Japanese sushi. It is an all-you-can-eat buffet for a single price. I thought it was delicious. I would recommend dining for lunch during the week for the best value. The restaurant also offers discounts on specific days (“Ginza Japanese Buffet”).

Lunch at Ginza Japanese Buffet. Photo by Jensy Matute Guifarro (CC by 4.0)

Blue Marlin Fish House

The restaurant was established in 1938 as a commercial fishing operation then it converted into a smokehouse until the 1980s. In 2007, it reopened and offers fresh seafood and American-style meals (“Historic Blue Marlin Fish House”).

Historic Blue Marlin Fish House. Miami New Times: public domain


According to North Miami Beach’s Chamber of Commerce, its most common businesses are education, nonprofit, and business services.

Humane Society of Greater Miami North

The Humane Society of Greater Miami has only two locations. One of them being in North Miami Beach. Established in 1936, today “more than 400 homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens each day” (“Who We Are”). The services offered are adoptions, clinic, intake, and grooming salon (“Location & Hours”). Due to there only being two Humane Societies in Miami-Dade County, the number of animals taken care of is immense. Many times, clients must wait for their number to be called to be assisted.

The Humane Society of Greater Miami. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

South Florida Kosher Market

This market is a local business that strictly focuses on kosher food. In an interview with the owner, Yitzie Spalter explains that his store has been open in the same location for the last 39 years, and it was the first kosher grocery store in South Florida. Their motto is: where quality service and savings go hand in hand (South Florida Kosher Market – North Miami Beach, FL, United States, 2017). They offer grocery delivery in various areas: Hallandale/Hollywood, Kendall, Miami Beach, NMB/Aventura, and UPS delivery in Florida (“Delivery Times & Areas”).

Front view of the South Florida Kosher Market. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Mall at 163rd Street

Completed in 1956, the Mall at 163rd Street was the first regional mall in Florida (“Our History”). At the time, the mall was full of shoppers and open-air. It became enclosed in 1982. However, now it has become a reminder of the Interama North Miami Beach was made to be. Stores in the mall are closed. The few stores that drive business are Ross, Marshalls, and the beauty supply store. It shows how the population changed preferences and the shopping center did not update with the times (“The Mall at 163rd Street,” 2018).

The Mall at 163rd Street. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)


Before researching North Miami Beach, I had a negative connotation of the city due to the constant traffic. However, through speaking to residents and visiting parks and businesses, I have been surprised. The city is somewhat of the Interama it set out to be. The population is very multicultural and the businesses are conveniently close to residential areas. Something that I do notice with the design of the city is that it was not expected to grow as much as it has done. For example, the roadways are mostly one, two, and three lanes. With most of the city traveling through vehicles, it causes the traffic to back up. Also, many of the plazas and businesses are located directly next to the main road, meaning there is no way for the road to be expanded.

Entrance into North Miami Beach from SR-826. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Also, something else I noticed was the cost to experience public parks, such as Oleta River State Park and Greynolds Park. Oleta had an entrance fee per vehicle and Greynolds had metered parking. This cost limits access to the parks. It also makes it difficult for citizens to constantly use them.

In review, North Miami Beach is a bustling urban city that offers closely-located businesses and parks that give residents convenience. In speaking with North Miami Beach resident Matute Guifarro, she recommended that the city host more events for residents to learn about their city because she did not know the city’s history until I explained it to her. She believes that educating residents will bring this 45,000 people community together. For example, the following mural is outside a local liquor store. It has Selena, Michael Jackson, Celia Cruz, and Bob Marley. Unfortunately, I was not able to find out any information on the mural. In my perspective, I believe it represents the diverse cultural epicenter that is North Miami Beach.

Wall mural outside Absolute Liquors by @lade_one. Photo by Nicole Patrick (CC by 4.0)

Works Cited

Advertisement postcard for the Atomic Construction Co. at North Miami Beach. 195-?. Black & white postcard. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 13 Dec. 2019. <>.

 “Delivery Times & Areas.” South Florida Kosher. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Experiences & Amenities.” Florida State Parks. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Fulford-by-the-Sea Monument.” Wikipedia. 24 Nov 2016 2016. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Getting Around NMB.” City of North Miami Beach. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Ginza Japanese Buffet.” Ginza Japanese Buffet. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Greynolds Park History.” Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Hazel Fazzino Park (Phase 3).” City of North Miami Beach. 4 Nov 2018. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Historic Blue Marlin Fish House.” Oleta River Outdoor Center. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“History.” The Ancient Spanish Monastery. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“History.” Florida State Parks. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Hours & Fees.” Florida State Parks. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Interama: Miami and the Pan-American Dream.”HistoryMiami Museum. 25 Jan 2009 2009. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Location & Hours.” Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“love-in.” Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“NMB Line.” City of North Miami Beach. Web. 2019 <>.

NOAA. “North Miami Beach, FL Weather Averages.” Web. 14 Dec 2019 <…10513.10513..10908…0.3..……0….1..gws-wiz…….0i71.1k8QiY7_0lA&ved=0ahUKEwjU9JqGgrjmAhUDYKwKHUreAAUQ4dUDCAs&uact=5>.

“North Miami Beach, FL.” Data USA. 2017. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

North Miami Beach, FL. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“North Miami Beach, Florida.” Wikipedia. 1 Oct 2019 2019. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <,_Florida>.

North Miami Beach: Gateway to InteramaAnonymous Prod. Parisher Don, and North Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. Perf. Kirk Jr., Claude Roy. The City of North Miami Beach., 1967. 14:55; color; sound; V-76 CA065; S. 828.

“Our History.” City NMB. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“QuickFacts North Miami Beach city, Florida.” United States Census Bureau. 2018. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

Sommers, Laurie Kay. Jamaican Folk Revue performing at art opening on Jamaican Independence Day – North Miami Beach, Florida. 1985. Color slide. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 13 Dec. 2019. <>.

South Florida Kosher Market – North Miami Beach, FL, United States. Dir. SmartShoot Global. Perf. Spalter, Yitzie. 2017.

“Surging Seas: Risk Zone Map.” Climate Central. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“The Mall at 163rd Street.” Wikipedia. 8 October 2018 2018. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

 “Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin.” Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin. Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

“Who We Are.” Web. 14 Dec 2019 <>.

Nicole Patrick: Miami Service Project 2020

Student Bio

Nicole Patrick at the Deering Estate. Photo by Vivian Acosta (CC by 4.0)

Hello, everyone! My name is Nicole Patrick. In three words, I would describe myself as organized, kind, and determined. I am a senior at Florida International University and its Honors College studying Hospitality & Tourism Management with a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in the subject. During my time at FIU, I have been able to take part in many opportunities, such as being a student leader in Panther Camp, Honors College, and Campus Tours, volunteering and coordinating a spring break service trip to Puerto Rico with Alternative Breaks, studying abroad with Hospitality at Sea, and gaining professional experience with the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.


For my service project, I worked with the Deering Estate. The Deering Estate is a cultural asset and a historic site located in Miami. One of the biggest focuses of the estate is conservation. With the help of my Professor John W Bailly and Conservation & Research Specialist Vanessa Trujillo, I organized my second cleanup of Chicken Key, which is an island in Biscayne Bay one mile off the shore of the Deering Estate.


My passions in life include volunteering and traveling, specifically eco-tourism, sustainability, and culture-immersive experiences. I aspire to make the world a better place by giving my time, energy, and dedication to the environment and the people that live in it. As a Hospitality & Tourism Management major, I see myself organizing more volunteer experiences in the future at a local level also a touristic level.

I have experience in scheduling, volunteering, and working in teams. In March 2019, I led a group of seven students from FIU in a service trip to Puerto Rico. We spent our spring break volunteering in various ways on the island like refurbishing an abandoned school, picking up marine debris off the beach, and spending an afternoon helping kids with their English at a Boys & Girls Club. The experience was nothing I could imagine or predict. It was just incredible.

A quote a recently heard is, “Think global, but act local.” By hosting these cleanups, I have given others the opportunity to make an impact on their local community. For this reason, I continue to do the cleanups. Nothing compares to the feeling of sharing this experience with others.


How this volunteering opportunity came out is much different than typical volunteering opportunities. Currently, I am taking my second course with Professor John W Bailly. As part of his classes, the class spends a day cleaning up the marine debris off of Chicken Key. I have had the opportunity to participate in this cleanup twice as his student. When I had participated this past fall semester, I posted about my experience on social media, specifically Instagram. A number of my followers were actually interested in taking part in the cleanup, so I told Professor Bailly. He encouraged me to create a group of students to cleanup Chicken Key.

I organized my first cleanup on November 10, 2019 and my second on January 4, 2020.

Where & What

In preparation for the cleanup, I was in communication with Vanessa Trujillo, Conservation & Research Specialist at the Deering Estate, Professor Bailly, and the leads for the cleanup. I shared with them the structure and schedule of the cleanup. For the participants of the cleanup, they were all in the WhatsApp group chat. I use the chat to keep track of the number of people I expect to come.

January 4, 2020 Chicken Key Cleanup Detailed Schedule by Nicole Patrick.

The original date for the second cleanup was December 21, 2019; however, the weather would not permit for us to have a successful experience. As a result, I made the decision to post-pone the date of the cleanup to January 4, 2020. I kept all involved informed, so we did not have any issues.

I created a sign-in sheet for the cleanup because I did not use one the first time and it caused some issues with canoe-pairings and volunteer hours. Using the sign-in sheet, I was able to create canoe-pairings based on canoeing confidence. I also was able to have information on whether or not everyone needed volunteer hours and their contact information all in one place.

January 4, 2020 Chicken Key Cleanup Sign-In Sheet by Nicole Patrick

A week before the cleanup, I began sending reminders to everyone involved that the cleanup was one week away and to start getting prepared. I informed them on the schedule, the attire, and location of the cleanup, so we all knew what to expect. As we got closer, I continued to send updates and information.

January 4, 2020 Chicken Key Cleanup Participant Schedule by Nicole Patrick
Messages sent to the January 4, 2020 Chicken Key Cleanup group by Nicole Patrick

The day of the cleanup went very well. We were able to implement the sandbags and we filled 42 of them with trash from Chicken Key. The original structure changed a bit because number of volunteers was less than expected. Nevertheless, the cleanup was very successful and my leads Lily Fonte, Nathalie Sandin, Natalie Brunelle, and Corey Ryan had done a phenomenal job assisting me.

Photos by Nicole Patrick, Lily Fonte, and Jennifer Tisthammer (CC by 4.0)
Video by Nicole Patrick


The cleanup occurred on Saturday, January 4, 2020.


With each cleanup, I learn something new whether a new technique or a more efficient way to organize the cleanups. For January 4th, I decided to incorporate two new aspects: sandbags and leads.

After researching other cleanups in the area, I noticed that one cleanup group did not use trash bags for their cleanups. Instead, they used sandbags. I thought that this is such an efficient idea because it reduces the amount of waste as they do not use trash bags. It also gives the opportunity to proper disposal of the debris collected. We used the sandbags and they worked! We were able to collect the trash without having to use trash bags. We did not sort what we collected because we were pretty exhausted from the canoe ride back. To sort the trash, I think I will need to enlist the help of a second group of volunteers to solely organize it. That way, I do not exhaust volunteers who start the day. This will be something I will incorporate in future cleanups.

From my previous cleanup, I realized that I can not be in all places at once, so for January 4th, I asked help of others who have previously done the cleanup. This way, they understand and know how the cleanup works and what Chicken Key looks like. It was very helpful to have them because they were able to help others and the pressure was not all on me. I will continue having leads for my future cleanups.

I am currently working with the Deering Estate in planning my next cleanup, which is exciting. The FIU Honors College even shared the cleanup on their Instagram page, so I have even more people interested in joining!

@fiuhonors Instagram posts on the Chicken Key Cleanups

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