Everglades: Day 5

Hello from the Swampland!

If you’re keeping up with us via Twitter, you’ve probably noticed our trip sounds like just as much fun as service. There’s a simple explanation: our service has been so much fun! The park rangers we have been working with are so thankful for our time and assistance that they try to infuse fun into every aspect of our projects.

Today we volunteered at Chekika National Park. We got to hang out with the firefighters at their fire station and help them with everything from painting a bathroom to organizing their firefighter uniforms. Don’t worry, we didn’t have to fight any forest fires today! We were all very surprised to hear how common fires are in the Everglades. Many of the fires are prescribed, but unfortunately others are not. In addition to our work at the fire station, we got to help the park rangers mark the boundaries of tourist trails by hanging up signs while running through tall, safari grass. Unfortunately, weather conditions brought our work to an early end. To fill our remaining time in the park, volunteer rangers took us on UTV tours through the tall grass in the pouring rain. We even clocked one of our carts going 53mph! We explored a hidden lake and saw 7 baby alligators. What a fun way to end our day!

Hope all are having wonderful trips!

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Everglades: Day 5

Everglades: Day 4

Hello all! We are so sorry that our first blog post has been delayed until now, but we have been so busy working in the beautiful Everglades! We touched down in Miami on Sunday and have been having a blast since. The local culture, environmental landscape, and exotic animal life have more than added to this wonderful experience.

We spent our first day with Park Ranger Jill learning more about the historical and scientific significance of the Everglades. We worked on landscape upkeep in Big Cypress National Forest and even got to see 40 alligators! No, this is not a typo. Ranger Jill led us through a beautiful hike to a sink hole which is home to more gators than the Florida football team. We stood just a few feet away from this pack of gators and took many snazzy pictures because we knew no one would believe us.

Yesterday was probably the greatest adventure of all of our lives. We went… SWAMPING! Our work included removing an invasive species (the water hyacinth) from a freshwater area on the preserve. We had to wade through four feet of murky swamp water with baby alligators within ten feet of our work site, the entire time knowing Mama Gator was somewhere near. Needless to say, we were all terrified to begin with, but it ended up being such a rewarding experience (and no one lost a limb.) We are proud to say that we successfully removed all of this invasive plant! And we even got to carry nifty hiking sticks. Park Ranger Ceresa was unlike anyone we have ever met before, and we were eager to soak up all knowledge she could bestow upon us about the environmental conditions of the preserve.

Today we moved over to Key Biscayne National Park to clean sea turtle habitats. The amount of trash that has washed up on this beach was unsettling. Please think before you litter! You never know what beautiful wildlife could be compromised by the seemingly small trash you don’t properly dispose of. After our long day of work, we decided to treat ourselves to a little hump day surprise… an airboat safari!!! If this isn’t on your bucket list, you definitely should go put it on there this very moment. We saw so many alligators and even got to hold one! To finish the day off, we came back to our cabins and relaxed in our ENO hammock to take in the beautiful South Florida air.

We are having such a wonderful time here in the Everglades and can’t wait to share more about our adventures in Gator Country!

PS – HAPPY PI DAY!!!!

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Everglades: Day 4