Grant Amount: $63,330.00
Year Funded: 2012
Organization: Miami Science Museum
Fernando Bretos, Curator of Ecology and Field Conservation
Students from the Upward Bound Math and Science Education Program (UB) of Miami Science Museum (MSM) will become eco-ambassadors in their communities by taking part in The Reclamation Project (RP), a participatory eco-art based restoration program. The students will develop and implement their own projects involving habitat restoration, native plant propagation, exhibit creation, and film production.
Thank you StateFarm Youth Advisory Board for supporting our Eco-Ambassadors. Please visit our Eco-Ambassadors website for more information.
End of Year:
We are wrapping up our year with the Eco-Ambassadors by sharing this video about their experience and journey to the West Coast of Florida.
FIU Shade House:
In partnership with the Miami Science Museum and State Farm Youth Advisory board, the shade house at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus was repaired and returned to use as a living laboratory. The existing shade house was severely damaged to the point that it was no longer usable. Repairs consisted of subcontractors completely restoring the shade house, adding a working gated entrance, the addition of an irrigation system using reclaimed water and the purchase of supplies to be used in plant propagation. The new space has allowed for the propagation of red mangroves for use in the Reclamation Project and community restoration events. It also provides students from FIU as well as surrounding middle and high schools a place to experiment with and cultivate native plants.
These native plants are used to create butterfly garden installations on campus as well as at surrounding schools, providing a great opportunity for eco-ambassadors to share the message of the harm of exotic invasive species and the importance of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. This shade house has also provided the opportunity for students to develop experiments related to plant cultivation and ecosystem monitoring. In addition to being a living laboratory, the shade house has allowed FIU to enhance its partnership with Fairchild Tropical Garden and Miami-Dade County by providing extra space to cultivate plants needed to restore Environmentally Endangered Lands within Miami-Dade. The shade house allows students to get in touch with nature and use concrete science skills in a real world application.
End of Summer Update:
Phase three of the Eco-Ambassadors mission is almost complete. The students drew sketches of how the mangrove exhibit should look. They came up with some very interesting and creative ways of portraying the information they would like to share with their audience. The next step is to showcase their ideas in a physical prototype. Museum visitors will be able to view this mock up mangrove exhibit and share their feedback with the Miami Science Museum’s exhibit creators.
Late July Update:
In late July, we had a post-trip download with the Eco-Ambassadors. They shared the most memorable parts of their trip to Sanibel Island and the West coast of Florida, along with the information they learned about mangroves. The students met with the Miami Science Museum’s Vice President of Exhibitions and Programs, Sean Duran, and the Museum’s Vice President of Content Development and Programs, Jennifer Santer, to discuss their interpretations of what the mangrove exhibit should look and how it should function.
From July 17th-19th, 30 Eco-Ambassador students traveled to the West coast of Florida to execute phase 3 of their service learning projects: to build a professional science Museum exhibit about mangrove ecology. The Eco-Ambassadors had an ecological and a museological mission prior to their participation in the creation and prototyping of this exhibit, which will be featured at the existing museum and the new Miami Science Museum that will open in 2015. On the trip they visited: J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and The Galisano Children’s Museum of Naples. They traipsed through mangrove mud to understand the mangrove ecosystem more in depth, they biked through Sanibel, and scoured through exhibits with a keen eye to understand the mechanics behind creating them.
The last of five PSA's that the Eco-Ambassadors created: One Chance
The fourth of five PSA's that the Eco-Ambassadors created: Tom and the Pond
The third of five PSA's that the Eco-Ambassadors created: Every Fish Has a Wish
Behind the Scenes of the PSA's
This video provides a behind the scenes look at the Eco-Ambassadors creating their PSAs. Meet the students, hear what it took to make their amazing films, and listen to them reflect on the week.
The first of five PSA's that the Eco-Ambassadors created: Nature's Battle
Family, friends, and museum visitors gathered on Saturday, February 9th to celebrate the hard work of twenty-two Miami Science Museum Eco-Ambassadors who participated in a film workshop last month. Each of the participants was awarded a certificate and a DVD of the final products from the week.
The audience was then treated to a short behind the scenes documentary showing what the students did and learned throughout the workshop. The event culminated in a viewing of all five final PSA's that displayed the creativity, hard work, and talent of the participants.
The PSA's will be posted on this page soon!
Twenty-two Miami Science Museum Eco-Ambassadors have started their service learning projects in earnest this week. They are learning how to script, film and edit their own PSAs. The students are working in groups of five to bring out the highest level of creativity and teamwork. The themes they are covering range from natural resource exploitation to restoration to environmental economics. The Eco-Ambassadors will finish editing their films on Monday (January 7th) at which point they will be shown to peers and posted on the Miami Science Museum and YAB websites.
State Farm YAB eco-ambassadors reclaim R. Hardy Matheson Preserve for Nature!
On Saturday, December 8th, 60 Upward Bound Eco-Ambassadors joined a group of volunteers from Miami-Dade College in replanting almost 1,000 mangrove propagules at R. Hardy Matheson Preserve. The Preserve is undergoing a major management effort by Miami-Dade County to remove exotic plants, replant native habitats such as mangroves and create a mixed used protected area for recreational activities.
In all over 100 volunteers participated in planting mangrove seedlings that had been exhibited on a wall at Miami Science Museum since November 2011. Specifically, they planted young mangrove plants along the banks of the Snapper Creek, a historical waterway. Not only does Snapper Creek have historical significance, as evidenced by a 500 B.C. Tequesta Indian habitation mound but is one of the largest tracts of coastal native habitat in Miami-Dade County. The banks of the creek where the volunteers planted were until recently covered in large mounds of landfill which were dumped there as part of periodical dredging of the creek for recreational navigation. These mounds were until recently covered in invasive plants such as Australian pine and Brazilian pepper and devoid of native vegetation. Thanks to the efforts of these Eco-Ambassadors, this area will once again be covered in mangroves and associated plants which will provide food and shelter for native birds, mammals and reptiles such as the endangered American crocodile and the West Indian manatee.
This effort is being funded by a State Farm Youth Advisory Board grant to engage local teenagers in restoring local habitat, outdoor learning and telling their own stories about South Florida’s natural areas through film.
November Update #2:
On November 28th, Eco-Ambassadors from Miami Science Museum's Upward Bound math and science program created an eco-art installation at the Museum's Wildlife Center. They took down 1,100 red mangrove seedlings which will be replanted on December 8th and replaced them with new seedlings the students collected in September.
On November 28th, MSM Eco-Ambassadors and Miami Science Museum staff will replace the 1,100 mangrove seedlings on the wall at Miami Science Museum's Wildlife Center with new seedlings collected by Eco-Ambassador's at Crandon Park in October.
Together they will fill the plastic cups and plant mangrove seedlings to display on the wall for this iconic eco-art installation. This annual activity brings people together to celebrate our coastal resources and help restore mangrove wetlands one seedling at a time. The seedlings that are on the wall will be replanted on December 8th by the Eco-Ambassadors at R. Hardy Matheson Preserve, a Miami-Dade County Park.
November Update #1:
Fifteen Upward Bound IMPACT students visited Oleta River State Park on November 17th. Oleta River State Park is the largest urban park in the Florida State Park system. It is home to a river, Miami's last freeflowing river, that gives it its name.
The purpose of the visit to ORSP was for these eco-ambassadors to become familiar with a hardwood forest site that they will be replanting with native trees and shrubs in April 2013 as part of their service learning projects. As you can see in this image, the site is still covered in invasive Australian pine trees. These will be removed in time for the replanting of the hardwood forest. It was an enriching experience for the ambassadors to see the site in its most degraded state before they will transform it into a functional eco-system that will be home to native South Florida flora and fauna.
After visiting the restoration site, the Eco-Ambassadors took to the water to visit mature and healthy coastal mangrove wetlands within the confines of the state park. In two weeks time, the ambassadors will be replanting mangrove seedlings at a different protected area. It is important for the students to see coastal habitats in their most healthy and mature state.
Forty students from the Upward Bound IMPACT program had another exciting day this past Saturday, October 27th. The students, along with their mentors, spent the day at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay campus with several students from the school.
In the morning, the Upward Bound students learned about marine ecology and then watched a PBS Changing Seas film about bull sharks and alligators in the Everglades. One of the people who worked on the film who is also a graduate student at FIU conducted a question and answer session afterwards. He answered questions about his work in the Everglades and about college and graduate school life.
After a tour of the campus butterfly gardens, mangrove restoration site, and shade house, the students enjoyed lunch outside on the beautiful day. Their afternoon was spent seining in the bay where they caught numerous small fish along with a juvenile barracuda. The Upward Bound students thoroughly enjoyed their experience and continued journey of being an eco-ambassador.
This Saturday, October 27th, students from the Miami Science Museum Upward Bound program, IMPACT, will participate in a fun-filled day at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay Campus. They will have the opportunity to learn from graduate students in Marine Biology, take a tour of the campus' natural areas, and participate in hands on marine science activities in their continued quest to become eco-ambassadors as part of the State Farm Youth Advisory Board grant.
On September 22nd forty-five students from Miami Science Museum’s Math and Science Upward Bound Program, IMPACT experienced nature in a unique way. During a break in the constant rain, three mentors accompanied the students on a trek into the mangrove forest at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, where they collected red mangrove propagules. The students learned how to identify the propagules and then choose which ones to collect. They searched for green ones that had not yet started to grow and as a group, collected two full buckets.
The students were willing to trudge through water and mud in order to collect propagules, knowing that their efforts would result in a healthier Biscayne Bay. First the propagules will be exhibited as part of the Museum’s 1,100 mangrove eco-art installation. Once germinated the students will replant these seedlings in the spring along Biscayne Bay.
As they headed back towards the beach for a barbecue, the students reflected on what they had achieved. After an enjoyable time in the outdoors, they are better informed about coastal issues and can now call themselves eco-ambassadors.