Eco-teers: Garden for Wildlife Habitats

Ecoteer’s participated with the City of Sunrise today in a “Garden for Wildlife Habitats” workshop with the hopes of getting the general public to certify their neighborhoods as “wildlife friendly habitats”. This event was held at Flamingo Park and lasted from 10 AM to 12PM. Part of encouraging the public to understand and create a wildlife friendly garden required informing them on how to initiate and maintain such an environment. They were educated on the importance of native plants (coontie, milkweed, salvia, etc.), how to grow them, and where to properly purchase natives as opposed to their look-alike invasive counterparts. This presentation also included the growth cycle and instructions on how to care for each of the many species. Much of the invitees, including EcoTeers, were lucky enough to take home a plant or two to grow in their own gardens and reintroduce wildlife back to formerly populated areas. It was estimated that we had 30-45 attendees and over 15 committed to certifying their neighborhoods online. We have also learned that our heat zone for Broward County has moved from a 10B to now an 11 so that directly correlates with the types of species that will thrive in our environment. This information will be a lead into our following projects toward the end of May and Early June. I’m looking forward to sharing all of those details with you as we grow the number of projects we practice monthly.

EcoAction at Central Broward Regional Park

Saturday February 24th 2023, EcoTeers participated in an EcoAction event day at one of our natural parks. Central Broward Regional Park held an invasives/waste removal from 9AM to 12PM. We were able to remove up to 100 pounds of Oyster Plant (Tradescantia Spathacea) also known for causing itching and irritating the skin of anyone who may touch the sap.

We also removed 150 pounds of plastic and other waste found at the park. Some objects to note (bottles, a bag full of dog toys stuck inside a bush, paper, straws, etc.). Volunteers were also educated on some of our native plants growing in the park such as our Smilax Vines and our Carolina Willow.

A total of 5 volunteers participated from Flamingo Gardens EcoTeers not including our Coordinator. As a whole 13 volunteers participated in making the park look safe and presentable for others walking through and for our wildlife. We look forward to participating in other EcoAction dates and to any prospective volunteers who wish to join.

For those looking forward to future events,

March is Water Matters Month in Broward County so we will be holding/.participating in events that align with water conservation purposes.

  • March 2nd will be a PUBLIC waterway cleanup, there will be a mass cleanup of our natural parks and waterways from 9AM to 12PM in honor of water matters month. We encourage all our EcoTeers to participate on their own if they are able. Anyone who wishes to participate in the public cleanup can find more information here: https://waterwaycleanup.org/
     
  • March 9th – Flamingo Gardens “EcoTeer” coordinator will be holding a booth for recruitment and education purposes at Tree Tops Park to celebrate “World Water Day” on March 22nd. Those who wish to apply as a volunteer or who have questions are welcome to visit. Our horticulture team will also be attendance at another booth during this event.
  • March 10th – EcoTeers will be hosting their very own waterway cleanup in honor of Broward County’s annual team cleanup. This event will be held at Dania Beach pier/marina from 9am-12pm. We’re looking forward to seeing our EcoTeers and any new faces who plan on attending. 

Eco-Teers: Southgate Meadow

Saturday January 27th from 3PM to 5PM EcoTeers participated in the Southgate Meadow reconstruction that has been going on for the last 2-3 years. We contributed by removing 3 plots of overrun weeds and invasive plants (such as Weedella and Richardia) in order for the meadow to be ready to plant new native species. We have seen incredible growth in some of the plants that were planted months ago and look forward to seeing how the newer ones develop over time as well. We had 3 volunteers participate in invasive removals and one other volunteer decided to stay late to do some identification work and log them into the app “INaturalist” that we use to keep track of all plant species we see develop in the area. We have also seen some improvement in bringing our wildlife back to this grassy area, there is now a family of burrowing owls nearby which are known to be a threatened species now as well as many different varieties of butterflies. February/March projects and events upcoming, stay tuned for more!

 

Eco-teers: Anne Kolb Nature Center Clean-Up

Saturday December 9th 2023, EcoTeers had a park cleanup event at Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood. We were tasked with removing palm fronds and other natural debris from a lakefront, butterfly garden, and park trail. The park Manager/ Naturalist gave us some history on the 1500-acre park and how/why the park was created in 1996. The park has a watch tower of 72 steps high that allows you to look out and read signage on our Florida natural history. For example, our Port Everglades Inlet, Intracoastal Waterway History, and Mangroves. We were able to see a somewhat rare Atala Butterfly that was brought back by the planting of Coontie plants. We also learned that they’ve been removing Australian pines in the area in order to help prevent those local shorelines. In our time there, we were able to collect two large industrial waste bins and four smaller receptacles of natural debris and other materials. Additionally, EcoTeers collected any plastic found about the gardens in order to stand behind our fight for proper recycling. The estimated total of natural plant matter removed is totaled to be around 300-400 pounds in (4 cubic yards). We filled one large gallon sized bag with plastic and other waste matter to be recycled as they were found scattered throughout the nature center (estimated to be around 5-10 pounds of waste). This project carried on from 9AM to 12PM with the assistance of two park managers and naturalists.

Eco-teers: Everglades Holiday Park Scientific Survey

November 10th, 2023 - Everglades Holiday Park

Eco-Teers had the opportunity to shadow a Park Naturalist to learn how scientists/ecologists use information to gain insight about a specific area. We learned about the different foliage and wildlife found at their organization such as Beauty Berry (Callicarpa) and how the leaves can also be used as insect repellant. We conducted a test using samples from two bodies of water and compared our results.

We took measurements on overall air temperature, water temperature, water depth and date/time of day. Eco-Teers took a more in depth look at scientific measurements such as pH, Turbidity, Nitrate, Phosphate, and dissolved Oxygen. We found that this was important to note as it gives an overall idea of how the activity in the area affects the water we use. Though our results from A and B samples were not far off they did tell us there was a difference immensely affecting our wildlife. Sample A and B differed in that A had a score of “4” in the dissolved oxygen category and sample B had a score of “2”. This may seem hollow as those are just numerical measurements but dissolved oxygen is required for aquatic animals to live. The scale in which we measure dissolved oxygen shows us that “3ppm” or lower are extremely stressful environments for our aquatic organisms to live. Anything below 2 or 1 will not support aquatic life. Levels 5 to 6 are typically required for the growth and development of these organisms.

This was further proven when we took samples of aquatic organisms out of these bodies of water and into bins filled with the same kind of water. Our pollution tolerance index came out to a score of 8 which is said to be “fair” though it’s not good or recommended for aquatic life to thrive. Most of what was found were dobsonflies and damselflies along with their larvae, though we found a few snails and glass shrimp. We also found much different organisms in Sample A’s body of water such as Pleco fish.

Overall, the census that we came to is that sample A had better water quality than sample B though it wasn’t too far in location or difference in quality.

If you would like to join the Eco-teers and help make an impact in our community against pollution and climate change, contact Ashley at [email protected] or call 954-473-2955 for more information.

Eco-teers – National Weather Service Visit

On Saturday July 29th our Eco-Teers toured the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) Miami hurricane center, also known as the National Weather Service (NWS). Eco-Teers were lucky enough to get a comprehensive tour into their facility and speeches from the majority of their staff detailing their daily responsibilities and how that affects us as civilians. Robert Molleda (Warning Coordination Meteorologist) spent the full two hours walking us through each department and ended each department with a Q&A. We were able to see their news/media room where they give full weather reports during times of crisis, we were escorted through the main weather prediction center where the employees detailed how they perform multiple operations and procedures during hurricane seasons and throughout the year.

We also got information from the coastal marine forecast department on how they track ships coming in and out of ports during fluctuating weather events and how that affects our commerce, (i.e. cargo, cruises, etc). We were able to speak to a few employees that enlightened us to different ways they have experienced tracking hurricanes outside of the everyday office-work. Two specific employees shared their experiences in flying into the eye of a hurricane in order to gather information on those storms and send it back to their respective organizations with NOAA and the U.S. Military. We were able to see some of the equipment that’s used for hurricane tracking for example; hydrogen balloons being sent into the hurricane and any information picked up being sent back via radio and then transmitted to a PC.

Additionally, Melissa Auld, our Director of Operational Systems and IT, and I were told about an opportunity to become Weather Ready Nation ambassadors (WRNA) which is useful for the everyday procedures taken at Flamingo Gardens to keep guests and employees safe. It’s also valuable for me to have for the purposes of outreach projects and educating the public. We are excited to participate in this opportunity.

If you would like to join the Eco-teers and help make an impact in our community against pollution and climate change, contact Ashley at [email protected] or call 954-473-2955 for more information.

Eco-Teers – Southgate Meadow Reclamation Project

The Eco-teers managed to remove 4 pounds of Ruella (Mexican Petunia) and Gale of the Wind. These volunteers learned about Trideck Daisies and Sandbur. Volunteers planted native plants to the meadow and saw the difference that has been made over the past month by an increase in native wildlife. We were able to see Sulphur butterflies, Monarchs, and other moths from that family. We also noticed an owl family living in the tree adjacent to the meadow. Volunteers learned how to identify certain plants and utilize the app “INaturalist” to add plant species known to a specific area and interact with others in the field. This project is ongoing and there will be other projects at this location introducing more wildlife and educational purposes.

BEFORE (June 11, 2023)
AFTER (July 22, 2023)

More photos from that day:

Eco-teers – Tree Tops Park Invasive Species Removal

EcoTeers had their third project of the month! They participated in an invasive species removal where we dug up snake plants and removed them from Tree Tops Park. During this project they managed to remove 400.1 pounds of Dracaena Trifasciata (snake plants) by the roots in under three hours. These plants were double bagged into 5 separate garbage bags and disposed of away from the park. 

Eco-teers – Beach Clean Up & Pollinator Project

Eco-teers June Projects

Beach Clean Up - Sat June 10th, 2023

at 4414 N. Surf Road in Hollywood, Florida. (MEEC at the Carpenter House).

On Saturday the Eco-Teers participated in a collective Beach Cleanup/Meet and Greet where we partnered with the Marine Environmental Education Center (MEEC) and worked alongside other organizations such as Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA) and Nova Southeastern University (NSU). We had a booth set up in order to educate the public on Flamingo Gardens and what the Eco-Teers do as an outreach conservation and preservation group. We had a total of 9 volunteers show up with 7 of those being already existing members of the Eco-Teers and managed to collect a total of 28.27 pounds of garbage from Dania Beach.

Pollinator Project - June 11th, 2023

at Southgate Meadows, Tamarac

Backstory: Sue Chalmers (a friend of Flamingo Gardens) has received a donation and a plot of land to create and care for as a “meadow” on the NE corner of Southgate Blvd and University Drive in Tamarac, Florida. Her motto for this project is “Mow to Meadow: Build it and they will come” meaning if we spend our time building a miniature ecosystem we will see a positive result in the way of providing homes and nutrients to other species of insects and birds along with nurturing the growth and bloom of other native plants. For this Project, Sue and I discussed quite a few ways the Eco-Teers can help build upon the reconstruction of this grassy area. Some of those ideas include digging plots, labelling plots of land, removing invasives, planting natives, spreading seeds, and other educational applied experiences. This project is beneficial to the Eco-Teers in that they will learn in a hands-on environment and the process will provide multiple projects for them to take part in and see the results of. 

On Sunday June 11th, about 7 Eco-Teers contributed to the Meadow project by removing invasive species (plants, weeds, etc.), planting native flowers, collecting bidents to spread on another project date that will, in time,  attract butterflies to the meadow. They spent time learning about different species of butterflies and flowers such as Gulf Fritillary butterflies and Sulphur butterflies. They removed 5-10 pounds of invasive weeds that were running through the garden and around our native plants and planted 9 Mexican Poppy (yellow-prickly poppy) or known by its scientific name as “Argemone Mexicana”.

If you would like to join the Eco-teers and help make an impact in our community against pollution and climate change, contact Ashley at [email protected] or call 954-473-2955 for more information.

SW 36th Court Canal Clean Up

12 Eco-Teers gathered at Flamingo Gardens, May 6th, 2023, from the morning hours of 9AM to 12PM. Some were Flamingo Gardens volunteers and others were new Eco-teers members who applied through their science teachers over at their respective high schools (i.e. American Heritage and Miramar High School). 

Their purpose was to collect garbage out of our SW 36th Court canal adjacent to Flamingo Gardens. Eco-Teers spent three hours cleaning up the canal and additional parking on the corner of South Flamingo Road. The volunteers found plenty of bottles (plastic and glass), paper, damaged car tires, etc. A total of 232.22 pounds of garbage was removed that day! 

UPDATE!

On May 20th the Eco-teers conducted another canal clean up. As a group of 14, 61.77 pounds of garbage was collected from and around our canals during the hours of 9AM to 11:30AM. Bringing the total to 293.99 pounds of trash collected out of our local canal. Below are some photos from that day!

If you would like to join the Eco-teers and help make an impact in our community against pollution and climate change, contact Ashley at [email protected] or call 954-473-2955 for more information.