In a mission to engage the next generation of leaders, scientists and creators to take an active role in protecting our local ecosystems, the School of Environment, Arts, and Society’s (SEAS) is leveraging their partnership with Pinecrest Gardens and Xavier Cortada, FIU SEAS  artist-in-residence, to bring art and science together and inspire youth during the monthly “Florida Is Nature” Artist Talks held at the Garden’s Hibiscus Gallery.

Through the “Florida Is Nature” participatory art project and Talks, Xavier Cortada invites scientists to join him and an audience of Miami-Dade Public Schools students in a discussion about their research on particular Florida environmental resources and their importance to all Floridians. In Xavier’s words “‘The Florida is Nature’ project is an evolving body of work that depicts the natural beauty of Florida and asks Floridians to define their state by its natural environment, not by the edifices and man-made encroachments that displace nature.”

In 2017, two FIU scientists participated in the Talks.  Dr. John Kominoski, co-Principal Investigator of the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program led a discussion along with Xavier focused on mangroves and their role in protecting our coastlines. Dr. Hong Liu, an ecologist recognized for her restoration work and research on endangered plants, participated in the “Florida Is…Endangered Species” talk later that year.

Dr. Jim Fourqurean, President-elect of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation and Director of the Center for Coastal Oceans Research (CCOR) co-led the first 2018 Talk: “Florida Is…Seagrasses” . Reflecting back on his participation in the “Florida is Nature” Artist Talks, Dr. Fourquerean mentions – “I was eager to participate in the dialog about my research, the nature of Florida, and the ways artists communicate and motivate their audiences. I gained insight on new ways to effectively communicate and new ways to look at the world. I was also excited about the opportunity to do that with an audience of high school students…they are the next generation of citizens that will see to the protection of the south Florida environment through their understanding, influence in their circles of friends, and by voting. I can honestly say participating in this was one of the most fun and enlightening things I have done in quite a while!”

As of today, approximately 200 high school students from Miami-Dade Public Schools have attended these talks. The talks are also filmed by the FIU library/Digital Library of the Caribbean and shared through their online platforms.

Join the School of Environment, Arts and Society and Pinecrest Gardens as they host their monthly Florida is Nature Artist Talks.

Upcoming Artist Talks of 2018:

“Florida is Ecosystems” Talk by Dr. Cara Rockwell–Wednesday, March 14th, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

“Florida is Nature: Sea Level Rise and Climate Change” Talk by Dr. Stephen Leatherman– Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.

“Florida is Sharks” Talk by Dr. Demian Chapman– Wednesday, May 9th, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.