Trever helped to create a pollinator garden!

My 10 Hour day at Gulf Islands National Seashore!

As my alarm went of a 6oclock AM on September 26, 2015, I was all but excited to spend 10 hours on Gulf Islands National Seashore. However, as I look back on the day, it feels great to know that I personally was able to make an environmental impact on the place that I love and have grown up in.  Gulf Islands National Seashores mission is to preserve the pristine beaches, wildlife, and the culture so that many people after us are able to learn and enjoy the same things that we did. The organizations mission was a huge reason why I chose to volunteer with them. It is inspiring to me that people have so much passion to preserve something for not themselves to enjoy, but the future generations to come. They are participating in something bigger then themselves, and for myself to have the opportunity to do the same, felt awesome.

Bat Houses for Jackson Guard

Check out the bat houses Tony made for his service learning project:

Oyster wall!

This will be in the water before you know it! Protecting a shoreline, creating habitat and improving water quality! Way to go Fall 2015 class!

One hour a week at a shoreline making a big difference!

Vabrice spent time at the beach to satisfy her service, not too shabby!! 

I took my service learning to the beach. Here I aided my fellow peers in cleaning up the beach. While doing it not only did it give me a great indescribable feeling, I helped save my environment one small step here I collected blocks of wood that were chilling shore side, broken chairs that people left, and wrappers that people had neglected to throw away in the trash. AND I HELD A STARFISH FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT WAS REALLY ACTIVE!!!!  This service project has taught me that we as a people have to love our environment more, because if we don’t no one else will.  With well over millions of people on the face of the planet it is our sole responsibility to take care of the place, that takes care of us.  Litter can lead one to think that an area is unkempt and unsafe and that disorder and littering are tolerated. (Which it is not) Litter attracts more litter. If we can clean our physical environment to make it look better, we as a people will feel better and isn’t that what life is all about? So the next time you walk across some trash on the floor wherever you shall be, even if it wasn’t you’re doing pick it up! It’s really all a domino effect and you never know what animal, ecosystem, wetland, and/or environment is thanking you. 

UWF Garden, winter crop prep with Halle!

Getting a raised bed ready to plant!!   
Fall/winter crops in the ground! 

Here is what Halle had to say about her experience at the UWF Garden:

The UWF Garden Project is a valuable asset to both the University and its students. It allows the students here a chance to get in touch with nature and give back to earth. The students are able to get hands on with planting, place mulch, weeding, and the other tasks necessary to grow an organic garden. However, this comes with some drawbacks. So much hands-on work can be difficult to manage, but at the same time, it is such a rewarding experience to see the transformation of an overgrown area of campus into a beautiful corner friendly to both animals and the community. As a college student, it can be overwhelming to deal with the struggles of maintaining a good GPA and everyday tasks, but the gardens offer as a piece of serenity and calmness that is hard to find in one’s everyday bustling life. That is why this project is so important to continue. Plus, not only is it a beautiful place to visit, it also offers as a teaching tool for valuable life lessons on growing an organic garden, growing food, and the importance of the environment as a whole. These lessons often take a back seat to the typical academia that is taught in colleges, so the UWF Gardens is essential to teaching the community about the environment and how to live an eco-friendly life.

Halle even made a new friend one day! 

Tiffany worked with Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance improving water quality one restoration project at a time!

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, an organization based in Santa Rosa Beach "committed to sustaining and providing optimum utilization of the Choctawhatchee Basin watershed while presenting opportunities for citizens, educators, and technical experts to promote the health of the Choctawhatchee watershed." CBA recognizes that the health of water resources is vitally important to our local economy considering fishing, tourism, and our quality of life rely upon a healthy watershed. An important aspect the CBA focuses on is citizen education and involvement. It is necessary for locals to become active in the conservation of these valued resources. 

Many skills were used and developed during the process of getting Service Learning hours. Firstly, I had to find and organization to work with! This led me to do some research about my area and what agencies are doing environmental work here. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of opportunities I came across as well as the sheer enthusiasm of such places to bring on volunteers. I got to use computer skills for checking and entering water quality data into the CBA's database. I hate to say I have not worked much with Excel, but my supervisor was more than happy to walk me through each step and I am glad I got some more practice on it. I feel as though knowing the program will certainly help me out with future jobs. I also tend to do things on my own. I had to go out of my comfort zone and work with a group for the oyster bagging and reef building. These activities could not be done by one person and the camaraderie was actually nice, especially since everyone working shared a common passion for a healthy environment. Becoming more adapted to group work will be advantageous for job opportunities. Not only did I get more relaxed in group settings, but I also spoke up and asked questions. Like I said before, I'm a bit of an introvert and stay pretty quiet. However, doing work I really enjoyed and am enthusiastic about made me want to learn more about why, how, what was being done. All in all, the experience was one I would never take back and I look forward to continuing volunteer work with both agencies.