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:
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: