by Nicholas Pastrana 10/22/19 – 11/12/19
This semester for my Service Project I chose to volunteer at the Deering Estate. What I find interesting about the Deering Estate is that while there are a few artworks inside of the Stone House the main “art” attraction is the Deering Estate itself. The Deering Estate’s value lies in its architecture, wildlife, and history with the Tequesta and Paleo-Indians. After being mesmerized by the Deering Estate from a class visit, I was quick to reach out for volunteering opportunities to the lady who took us on the tour; Vanessa Trujillo. Ms. Trujillo is a conservation and research specialist for the Deering Estate, she put me in contact with Mr. David Lotker, the Recreation Leader to begin volunteering.
A few weeks later, I went to the Deering Estate to volunteer. I worked with a couple of other volunteers from Miami Dade College pulling vines to maintain the landscape. Usually my father must fight with me tooth and nail to do this at home. At the Deering Estate this work was easy for me to comprehend because essentially, I was preserving the art of the Deering Estate. Specifically, I worked on maintaining an area of the landscape home to Coontie and Lantanas plants. Where the Atala butterflies lay their eggs and their caterpillars eat in preparation for their upcoming season. The first day I volunteered there were maybe a couple of caterpillars on the plants, but I felt rewarded when I came back about ten days later and was greeted by dozens of the little guys.
Additionally, at the Deering Estate I volunteered helping my professor Mr. Bailly move art pieces at his residency there for a photo-shoot in preparation for an exhibition. I also pulled vines out of and cleaned pockets of dirt in the limestone of the exterior of the Stone House. Maintaining the Stone House was also fascinating because it’s crazy to imagine the Spanish Villa being here at the time where the land was still inhabited mostly by bohemian tribes. I see huge historical value for it as well as the Richmond Cottage it’s connected to. In part for being the last place a person could stop from Miami to Key West and in part for the architectural marvels they were for their time.
I’m very appreciative of the work Deering Estate does to educate youth by offering summer camps and hosting school field trips. They also preserve the “real” Miami, the mangroves, plants, and wildlife that otherwise commercial businesses would’ve eaten up as they’ve done to the rest of Miami. I’m glad I got the opportunity to help preserve the natural Miami. It really made me reflect on human’s disregard for nature for our own satisfaction. Comparing Miami now to how it was during the 1800’s makes me feel gross. The Deering Estate really opened my eyes to how destructive humans can be.
The Deering Estate – 16701 SW 72 Ave, Miami, FL, 33157
Vanessa Trujillo – Conservation and Research Specialist