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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Camp Bayou, Ruskin, FL, USA

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Camp Bayou, Ruskin, FL, USA
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Registered: December 2008
City/Town/Province: Tampa
Posts: 1
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I’m Janet and I completed my environmental stewardship project at Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center in Ruskin, FL as part of my Girl Scout Gold Award (highest award in Girl Scouts). My project was to promote Florida Eco-Friendly Landscaping Techniques with an emphasis on water conservation and the use of native plants. My event “Linking to the Land… Going for the Gold” took place on September 27, 2008 since my event was in conjunction with National Public Lands Day (NPLD). I have always been an advocate for NPLD, a national volunteer effort to improve and enhance public lands so that they maintain (remain) pure and natural for future generations. There were activities for every age. We had camp beautification, family and youth oriented activities, and a Florida Eco-Friendly Landscaping Clinic. We gave away native plants and goodie bags containing literature and trinkets to further their education and provide assistance in creating their own Florida Eco-Friendly Landscape.
The camp beautification efforts consisted of: pulling invasive plants, performing trail maintenance, trash removal, gardening and mulching of various areas at the camp. By pulling invasive plants you are allowing natural growth of native plants and native animal species. There was emphasis on mulching the butterfly garden because of a variety of butterflies that inhabited that garden. Mulching has many benefits including, buffers soil temperature, reduces water needs, reduces weed growth, inhibits disease, and eases maintenance and makes beds neat and uniform. Over time mulching can improve soil aeration, structure and drainage. Trash removal reduces clutter and possible harm to animals. Trail maintenance allows easy access to trails and more efficient use of the plant’s energy.
There were a variety of family and youth oriented activities centered on the theme of my project. They could design Earth Day cards concerning No Child Left Inside Act that is a national initiative to incorporate environmental education into schools. They could also create their own landscape design on recycled paper to showcase the importance of “right plant right place” (Landscape technique). They could create plant terrariums by re-using water bottles and decorate a pine cone (bird feeder). These two activities were run by two Wildrose Lawncare employees who I knew when employed with Wildrose Lawncare over the summer. Videos were available for viewing about the harmful effects of invasive plants and linking girls to the land initiative between GSUSA and NPLD. Coloring pages and water conservation bracelets emphasized the need for conservation. We had a native plant identification game educating families about various native plants particularly those in the camp’s butterfly garden. My event had activities not previously used at past NPLD events at Camp Bayou. This event is a good initiative to start a legacy for future years at Camp Bayou for National Public Lands Day.

I teamed up with landscaping business owner, Bruce Adams of Adams Lawn & Gardens, to create a Florida Eco-Friendly Landscaping clinic to educate the public on the principles and benefits of Florida Eco-Friendly landscaping and the use of native plants. A defining moment the day of my event was when I was presenting material in this educational clinic. Sharing my knowledge and passion for the environment with others that I’ve acquired through research and practice was important to me.
The long term solution is accepting the Florida Eco-Friendly Landscaping techniques and showing to people how affordable, beneficial, beautiful, and easy for them to adopt these principles. By doing this people might develop the same passion that I have for Florida Eco-Friendly Landscaping and for our environment.
Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award is a coveted award since not many Girl Scouts obtain it. I have been inspired to earn this award since 1st grade when I first joined Girl Scouts 12 years ago due to the impact this award would have on my community. I have been blessed to see other Girl Scouts succeed in earning theirs. I’ve enjoyed outdoor activities for as long as I can remember and believe in giving back to the land and keeping it beautiful. I have accomplished this by participating in coastal and park cleanups in the past decade. I have been engaged with agriculture since 6th grade when I started taking classes. As a member of FFA in middle school and high school I’ve raised and cared for animals and grew plants to show at our county fair. I’ve seen an increase of responsibility including that as Plant Nursery Manager for my school’s land lab. I have shared my passion with many, especially my fellow girl scouts by designing, organizing, and instructing a “Go Green” theme encampment. I found many that participated in this experience share my passion to reduce-reuse-recycle. The same enthusiasm occurred with my event “Linking to the Land… Going for the Gold” where the techniques were adopted in their landscape.
I have attended many eco-related events and became a member of the USF Botanical Garden and Suncoast Native Plant Society, where I further expand my knowledge of native plants and water conservation. While in high school I sought out a part-time job related to the environment and worked for Wildrose Lawncare during the summer of 2008 where I was able to learn about common native plants and their role in landscaping. I found that many homeowners viewed native plants as weeds and unattractive and feel the need to educate others on the many diverse native plants that are beautiful and can attract wildlife in their natural habitat. They could also save money by conserving water and less use of chemicals. My future goals include majoring in Environmental Science in college and exploring careers relating to the environment.

I continue to look for opportunities to share with others, particularly the youth of today, that they have the power to change the world and to work towards what they are most passionate about. The Apprentice Ecologist Initiative has a similar goal as well to engage young people across the world to get involved with environmental efforts and to make the world a better place for everyone to enjoy. We need to take advantage of opportunities to educate others on the actions they can take as individuals to promote making the world a better place. If your heart’s in it, you’ll keep going. The choices you make will affect you 2 years from now and 22 years from now. Draw on your strengths to learn how you can make a difference. I’ve been inspired by many and most recently by Michael Phelps’ efforts in the 2008 Summer Olympics. I’ve been inspired to never give up until I reach my goal. Thank you for the consideration of an educational scholarship where I can further my education in Environmental Science. I have demonstrated the passion to help our environment and will continue to do so in the future.
Date: December 31, 2008 Views: 11309 File size: 32.6kb, 455.4kb : 960 x 1280
Hours Volunteered: 350
Volunteers: 35
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 12 to 65
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 50
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 10
Native Trees Planted: 1
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