MIM Service Project by Jose Rosales

The concept of extinction is one which stands rather abstract in the heart of men. By many, it is perceived as that which has yet to come, as a fictitious thing rather than a brutal reality. It saddens me to know of the ever-growing list of species that find themselves helpless before the reckless nature of my very own species. While there are many conservation groups that fight to preserve our ecosystems, not enough is being done worldwide to prevent this alarming and ongoing problem.

This semester, alongside professor Bailly and my classmates, we ventured to truly discover the essence of the Magic City. Throughout this eventful journey, we were exposed to Miami’s history. However, something peculiar about this class is that instead of being bombarded with information that could perhaps be received as boring in a classroom setting, we actually followed in the footsteps of history. My favorite class, however, was the day in which we went to chicken key with the purpose of freeing it up of as much marine debris as we could possibly fit in our canoes. Extraordinary work was done by the class as a whole, as we were able to bring back to shore a massive amount of litter. I recall being exhausted from all the work and paddling, yet at the same time I felt satisfied and proud of this initiative. The next day I shared with my friends pictures of the island and told them all about our goal. They were fascinated and eager to join if there ever was another possibility. Which was perfect, because despite all of our best efforts, a great deal of pollution still plagues the island. One of my classmates, Nicole Patrick, had the initiative of talking with professor Bailly in order to organize another clean up. This time, however, FIU students from outside the class could also come to help. Nicole did an outstanding job at coordinating with the Deering Estate all the details about this event. She created a WhatsApp group for the volunteers and provided us with all of the information we needed so that things would flow as smooth as possible. We learned during our first clean up that bringing gloves and trash bags would facilitate our work and maximize our time. We paired up in teams and off to the island we went, once more, traveling by way of canoe. The current was very strong that day and the wind was not blowing in our favor. What was supposed to be a one mile travel distance felt like an eternity, but our determined team managed to overcome this and successfully arrive to the island as scheduled. Two weeks had passed since our most recent clean up and the amount of plastic debris was beginning to pile up along the shore again. It was incredible the way in which this team was able to come together and tirelessly work to reach the areas that we could not reach before. A total of eight canoes were filled with all the trash collected off of the island. Once we were back on the shore, we helped put away the canoes and formed a circle for a debrief and to thank each other for taking part in the event.

The work done at the island may seem insignificant in the bigger scheme of things, but it so happens that professor Bailly found an endangered Diamondback Terrapin turtle that was stuck in trash and released it. He notified the Deering Estate and they are taking special precautions to help secure the safety of this rare species.

I can only hope that more people would become conscious of all the damage that we are doing to our planet and that many more groups like this one can come together to help preserve the Earth.

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