A look back at Fall semester service days

girl cleaning up the bay

Service days at Biscayne Bay Campus (BBC) unite hundreds of volunteers, including FIU students and members of the South Florida community, around an environmental cause.

Each year during the Fall semester, FIU CASE collaborates with other organizations on a number of events including: 9/11 Day of Service coordinated by Center for Leadership; Day on the Bay led by Student Government Association and the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) sponsored by Miami-Dade.

Service days give students and the community a better understanding of how ecosystem services provided by the environment support human health. An educational component is followed by hands-on projects such as marine debris removal, butterfly garden maintenance, creation of the Living Lab space, removal of invasive plant species along the coast and more.

These service days provide opportunities for volunteers to become environmental stewards as they clean up the trash accumulated on coastal mangroves in addition to creating urban gardens that provide refuge for pollinators.

This year, participants were part of starting a new project at BBC called the Living Lab – an area dedicated to education, conservation and cultivation of edible plants, flowers, herbs, seeds and berries along with other important non-edible plants and trees such as the red mangrove. On the 9/11 Day of Service, students created four raised garden beds, which will be used to grow herbs and vegetables in the upcoming Spring semester.

During this year’s International Coastal Cleanup, participants removed over 448 pounds of marine debris from the mangrove coastline. The waste included food wrappers, plastic bottles and caps, grocery bags, and fishing gear such as nets, lines and ropes. Clearing out fishing gear is paramount because lines and nets discarded or lost in the ocean continue to fulfill their purpose, which is to trap and kill millions of marine animals. This phenomenon is known as ghost netting or ghost fishing. Removing this debris is vital to the health of coastal ecosystems.

Keep an eye out for Spring 2020 service days: Martin Luther King Day of Service, Spring Day on the Bay and Miami-Dade’s Baynanza.

Shalimar Moreno contributed to this article.