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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Tallahassee Museum, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

Tallahassee Museum, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
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Registered: December 2017
Posts: 1
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This past August, I completed my Girl Scout Gold project. For this project, I personally spent over 100 hours implementing and maintaining the green infrastructure system at the Tallahassee Museum.
Green infrastructure refers to water management that mimics the natural water cycle. Thus, my project included maintaining rain gardens and installing infiltration chimneys, along with many other tasks. I have always had a love for the natural world, but this passion of mine was strengthened after I took AP Environmental Science, and competed in the science competition "Envirothon" on the state level, where I earned the 2nd highest score in the wildlife division. With this increased passion, along with my goal of completing a Girl Scout Gold project, I contacted the Tallahassee Museum and spoke with their volunteer coordinator, who offered the idea of green infrastructure. I was immediately hooked.
Green infrastructure is an underappreciated science. It aides in flood control, and keeps water quality high. Its primary use is in managing storm water; by controlling where runoff flows, the spread of sediment, pesticides, and anything else water can move is handled in a way that limits harmful effects. For instance, when runoff carries pesticides into a lake, harmful algal blooms (HABs) can form. HABs cause a decrease in the water's oxygen levels, which in turn harms biodiversity, as plants, fish, and invertebrates suffer and usually perish.
The first step I took was deepening my knowledge of green infrastructure, which involved hours of research, and counseling with a green engineer who helped me get started. Then, I evaluated the museum during a dry spell, and during a rain storm, to see where water runoff flowed and pooled. After these steps, I finalized my plan for what elements of green infrastructure I would implement.
I installed two infiltration chimneys with the help of three other volunteers. Together, these two chimneys would collect water dripping from an onsite building, before it could flow down a hill and pool around a historic site at the museum. I also deepened the museum's existing rain gardens and inverted landscape islands, so that they would be able to hold more water, and thus, be more effective. Some of the work that needed to be done would need to be maintained as time passed, such as deepening the rain gardens (runoff carries sediment with it, which it then deposits) and ensuring that areas where water did flow had adequate ground cover, to limit the amount of sediment moved.
In order to ensure that the changes I implemented would be maintained, I organized a community workday where I taught museum staff and community volunteers about green infrastructure. I began the day with a didactic tour of the various green infrastructure elements, to help all participants become comfortable with the project's steps and purpose. Then, I explained that we would have mini groups of several people working at each separate element. I chose to divide the group to allow participants to become more immersed in the project, as everyone would have a task to complete, there would be no idle waiting. Also, by allowing them to self select their work space, participants were able to contribute to the project in the way they were most passionate or curious about. I circulated between areas, offering help, advice, and encouragement to all.
In addition, I designed an informative green infrastructure pamphlet for the museum to pass out to visitors. I hope that the pamphlet will not only inform visitors, but excite them, and encourage them to get involved with the museum's infrastructure system, and hopefully implement green infrastructure at their homes.
My project refined my perspective on leadership and on the environment. At my project's beginning, I viewed leaders as being an elite, nearly unreachable group. However, leading the work day and listening to volunteer suggestions taught me that even in while working in a group endeavor, we can each be leaders in some form. In addition, the vast amount of work accomplished on the work day compared to the work I would accomplish on my own reinforced the truth that to protect our environment, we must all be willing to work together, inspiring, teaching, and helping others.


Post-project Interview with NWP:

What are your educational, career, and life goals?

I am planning on double majoring in microbiology and psychology, and then matriculating to medical school. I hope to become someone who is always looking for ways to help the people and community around me, both inside and outside of my career.

What are the benefits of your Apprentice Ecologist project and how has it enriched your life?

My Apprentice Ecologist project improved the water quality at a local museum, and educated others regarding how they can do the same in their own community. Completing my project taught me how to become a more effective leader, and how teamwork is vital in making a lasting difference.

Why do you feel it is important to be an active steward of the environment now and in the future?

If we do not take care of the environment now, we will lose the gifts it gives us- from the air we breathe, to medicines and to the beauty of wildlife- the environment gives us so much. It is crucial that we protect the environment in order to preserve it through our own lives, and through the lives of those who will come after us. Active and continued stewardship is the only thing that will result in successfully protecting the environment from damage.
Date: December 31, 2017 Views: 5830 File size: 20.1kb, 4868.2kb : 4320 x 2432
Hours Volunteered: 250
Volunteers: 21
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 2 to 52
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 21
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