By: Daniel Perez
Miami Service Project: Deering Seafood Festival
For our service project this semester I chose to help with this year’s Deering Seafood Festival. The main idea was to create a presentation for our group of FIU students to inform the public of the pollution that washes up in the area, especially around the chicken key area. I myself participated in a total of 3 cleanups and had the honor of guiding the group during one of the cleanups, as well as aided in the development of both the presentation to be given at the festival and the creation of the sculpture piece. A large reason for my dedication to this project is due to my great respect for the outdoors and nature itself and I have my ideals in the preservation of that nature that I love and respect so dearly.
It was thanks to Nicole Patrick, a fellow FIU student and Miami in Miami classmate, that put together the logistics and grouped us all together towards the cleanups and set up of the Deering Seafood Festival.
The plan was to get together on most weekend mornings at the Deering Estate, where we were allowed to rent out the canoes on site and paddle together towards the island about a mile away. Nicole had usually organized us into four groups each assigned to a specific section of the key. This would allow the teams to more efficiently clean up the island.
The amount of trash during the first few visits was impressive and the items one would find tended to be stranger than usual. Off the top of my head I can say we found a small airplane, large pieces of bamboo, and even a ritualistic doll.
At the end of each cleanup day, the trash was packed up into those yellow sandbags as seen above. The general garbage was disposed of at the estate, while anything that was considered to be usable for our presentation at the Seafood Festival was kept to be put together in a sculpture to help inform and bring awareness to guests at the festival.
As the date of the Deering Seafood Festival loomed, a group of us decided to get together at the university and try to brainstorm what the general build of the sculpture would look like based on what we had brought in.
After some observation at our trash inventory we agreed to build a model turtle based on the garbage collected over our visits to the estate. We used a carboard cut out as the base and layed out the trash to fill in the space. Then we stuffed the turtle with crushed water bottles to give it a more life like appearance.
Surprisingly enough we were able to finish it within our first meeting and planned to further develop a backdrop and presentation to go along for us to share with guests at the Festival. Sadly, as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic the Deering Seafood Festival was postponed and then later on canceled. Regardless of the suspension of the event, I hope the ideals invested into this group remain strong and are shared with others so that importance of preserving nature are held to a high regard amongst the general public.