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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

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Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
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alexarose2000



Registered: December 2017
City/Town/Province: Lake Worth
Posts: 1
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The Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve, which doubles as my city's main water source, is a unique and fragile ecosystem with a complex Floridian habitat. The natural balance of this environment, however, is in grave peril. The state highway commission seeks to expand a major highway through the Preserve. To combat the Preserve's potential destruction, I decided to spread awareness within my community and to actively participate in clean-up efforts.

Though I was committed to the cause, I knew I had to engage others to make a true, positive, long-lasting impact. I recruited students from my city youth council (which I chair), my school, and neighboring schools, to work together to save this unique environment. I planned and coordinated a volunteer beautification project, seeking to also teach my peers about the importance of the Preserve.


My recruitment efforts exceeded my expectations and I was excited to begin. A senior member of the Grassy Waters staff briefed our participants on the Preserve's overall importance both as an ecosystem and as a water source. I noticed that during this discussion a number of participants listened intently. Many, though, were completely disinterested, opting to talk to one another or to engage on their phones.

When we transitioned to the physical work, I noticed a significant behavioral shift. Many of those who seemed distanced earlier became actively involved in the upkeep of the Preserve. Phones vanished as people grabbed shovels and hedge clippers to chop away at intrusive, invasive plants. I marveled at this transition from disinterest to engagement.


Seeing my peers suddenly put away their phones revealed more to me than I could have imagined. I saw participants find a personal connection to a place I love. The challenging activity became more than physical: the minds of my peers were transformed. By eliminating the trappings of modern technology, we were instead timelessly immersed in the native Everglades marshes that characterize my state. My contemporaries made the conscious choice to engage in this environmental issue. As they left, they happily detailed the broad spectrum of ways they learned from my event: some learned from the introductory discussion; others learned most from the physical labor; some exclaimed that they were most excited simply to learn of the Preserve's existence and both its utilitarian and environmental roles. By helping open their minds to an issue I am passionate about, I learned to more greatly consider the mindset of those around me.

My view of the world itself has changed, as I now recognize that my generation can help solve pressing issues. There will always be state highway commissions seeking to encroach on the Preserve or on some other irreplaceable ecosystem. I now see that my peers are excellent examples of those who will shape the future of the Preserve, even beyond the current battles with the state highway commission. We are the generation who will tackle Florida's rising temperatures and rising water levels. Though these environmental, economic, and infrastructural conflicts may seem so complex, we can solve them by engaging and immersing young minds in the issues of the current era. From the success of this particular venture, I have continued my initiative by working with the City Parks and Recreation Department, as another way to keep ordinary citizens active in caring for their environment. Through this experience, I learned that those around me are just as passionate and willing to learn about this cause as I was the first time I strolled the Grassy Waters walking trails, and I have now learned to approach my peers with an open mind and an open heart.
Date: December 31, 2017 Views: 158 File size: 23.7kb, 683.2kb : 1024 x 768
Hours Volunteered: 60
Volunteers: 20
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 14 to 18
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