Eco-teer Peace River Restoration Project

The city of Punta Gorda suffered widespread losses as a result of Hurricane Ian in Fall of 2022. Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens fell within hurricane Ian’s path resulting in major environmental impacts such as the destruction of their trees and plants.

The Flamingo Gardens’ Eco-teers traveled to Peace River with over 500 native trees as well as host and nectar plants to help restore some ground on March 25th. Volunteers spent their day planting cypress, elderberry, coral bean, magnolia, lantana, and coontie.

Within the same week, Eco-teers took their talents to Fort Lauderdale Beach in partnership with the Youth Environmental Alliance on April 1st. Their mission was to plant 4000 sea oats in an effort to restore our sand dunes and they succeeded. 


Sand dunes provide natural coastal protection against storm surge, reducing coastal flooding and structural damage. Sand dunes also provide rich habitat for specific vegetation and wildlife. The sea oats are a Hardy and salt tolerant plant that play a major role in building and stabilizing the dunes. They help trap wind-blown sand which helps in maintain the form of the dunes and they have an extensive root system that grows horizontally and acts as the main support to keep the dune raised.

If you would like to join the next Eco-teer project, contact Glennys Navarrete at [email protected] for an application.

The Need For Bees

Without bees, many of the food crops in the United States would not even exist! In the US alone, honey bees are responsible for the pollination of $15 billion worth of crop . Pollination is a critical process in plants, allowing for the reproduction of plants, resulting in the next generation of crops. Plants are a critical part of our food chain and a source of food for all herbivores. Plants are also responsible for the purification of the atmosphere as they take in carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen. Therefore, bees are indirectly responsible for our ability to eat and breath!


Bee populations are declining at alarming rates in recent years. The Smithsonian Magazine reports that bee populations declined just five to ten percent annually in the 1980s, but recent years have seen annual declines from 22 to 30 percent. Populations are declining due to a variety of factors including habitat destruction, pesticides, disease, and a changing climate.

Habitat Loss 

Studies indicate that bee territories have shrunk by nearly 200 miles in North America and Europe primarily due to human encroachment as more land is developed for housing, commerce, and agriculture. Consequently, the habitat ranges for the honeybees have become smaller and they are challenged as to where they should set their hives. Unlike other insects like butterflies that easily adapt to new habitat ranges, some bee species like bumblebees rarely shift their habitat. Thus, habitat loss may eventually result in the extinction of some species of bees. 

Increased habitat loss has led to native bees experiencing a significantly greater threat to extinction than ever before. Of the nearly 30,000 species of bees across the world, most native bee species are dependent upon a particular plant species for survival. The destruction of the bees’ particular habitat is a near certain death sentence for many bee species that are not suited to migration. Examples of the most threatened native bee species include yellow carpet solitary bee, sunflower leaf-cutting bee, wild sweet potato bee, and Gulf Coast solitary bee.


Bees are particularly vulnerable to some species of gut and mite parasites that thrive in warm temperatures. One of the glaring effects of climate change is the increase in temperatures and shorter cold seasons. These high temperatures mean that bees are at greater risk of diseases and parasites now than they were before due to climate change. 

Seasonal Timing 

In their role as pollinators, timing is crucial for bees. The time of spring flowering and the hatching of bee larvae must coincide for successful pollination to take place. Usually, bees come out of winter hibernation at exactly the same time when flowers begin to bloom. Warmer temperatures in recent years have resulted in earlier snow melts and earlier bloom periods that occur before the bees start to emerge. If the flowers are available and there are no bees around to pollinate them, a mismatch occurs. This loss of synchronicity between bees and the flowering plants results in a decrease in seed production and plant reproduction, resulting in a food shortage for the bee population.

Three Ways To Help Bees:

  1. Plant a Bee Garden. Create a habitat for bees with plants that are rich in pollen and nectar. Bees are drawn to single flowers with one ring of petals where the central part of the flower is easily accessible. You don’t need a ton of space to grow bee-friendly plants — gardens can be established across yards and in window boxes, flowerpots, and planters.
  2. Go Chemical-Free for Bees. Bees are insects so synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and neonicotinoids are harmful to bees, wreaking havoc on their sensitive systems. Avoid treating your garden and green spaces with synthetics. Instead, use organic products and natural solutions such as compost to aid soil health and add beneficial insects that keep pests away, such as ladybugs and praying mantises.
  3. Plant a tree. When a tree blooms, it provides hundreds and thousands of blossoms from which bees can feed. In fact, bees get most of their nectar from trees! Trees are not only a great food source for bees, but are also an essential habitat. Tree leaves and resin provide nesting material for bees, while natural wood cavities make excellent shelters.

For more ways to help bees visit

Volunteer Spotlight: Publix Staff Members

Publix Serves 2023
Our Volunteer Spotlight for March are Publix Representatives.
As apart of their Publix Serves Campaign, they had over 100 volunteers participate in various volunteer experiences for us here at Flamingo Gardens. They assisted us in animal care and took on larger projects. They also made a major contributions with their time and effort to our Horticulture Department. This is also in addition to painting and helping Maintenance. We are thankful that every year Publix has continued a partnership with our Volunteer Department and really allowed us to attempt more creative volunteer opportunities.

Eco-Teers In Action!

With only a few days into the month of March, the Eco-teers have already dedicated much of their time in restoring our coastal habitats and spreading climate change awareness.

1000 sea oats were planted at Fort Lauderdale Beach in partnership with the Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA) in an effort to restore coastal sand dunes in South Florida. Sand dunes provide habitat for several coastal species and protection from storms. Not even the blazing heat could have stopped Ezequiel, Lori, Rami, Han, Sohail, Kevin, Christopher, Laurent, Madison and Faith from getting the job done.

In downtown Fort Lauderdale, some of the Eco-teers spent their day at the Science Festival hosted by the Museum of Discovery and Science. Tiffany and Tori provided a climate presentation discussing the latest climate science, impacts and solutions as part of their climate training provided by the CLEO Institute. 

The science festival also allowed students to compete in the build a better world challenge. The challenge allowed students to design solutions in cutting waste and boosting efficiency in the fight against climate change. Ines, Giuliana and Karen participated in the challenge and won first prize for their project on harvesting rainwater to reduce carbon emissions released from local water treatment plants.

Way To Go Eco-Teers!

Join in on the next projector to become a member please email:

Volunteer Spotlight: James Harmon

James Harmon
Our Volunteer of the Month for February is James Harmon.
 James has already volunteered for over 100 hours this year. February in particular James was a key contributor in our Food and Wine Benefit. He has been helping our Special Events department set up and breakdown our various events. Many mornings James can also be seen assisting our Animal Care Department with the animals and the enclosures. When called upon for any extra task he has been willing and effective, and we are very thankful for that. James has a passion for genuine help and we appreciate him so much.