Objective: The Edible Peace Patch at Lakewood Elementary is an attempt at many things. It is intended to educate children about science and organic agriculture, as well as create ecological values, but it is also a social experiment. It is an attempt to make children interested in school, improve their grades, introduce them to college students and help them realize that they too, can have higher education in their future. The Edible Peace Patch has only been around for little more than a year now, however so far, it seems like its working. Professor Curtis of Eckerd College hails from New England where the growing climate is strictly during summer vacation. His new residence in Florida however, has the perfect spring/fall growing season for the academic school year. Upon receiving interest in organic and sustainable agriculture from more and more students at Eckerd, the idea of creating these values in the next generation became more realistic. After he received permission from the principal at a nearby elementary school, Lakewood, it was the Eckerd students who volunteered their time to create the Edible Peace Patch in its first year. Since then, volunteering in Lakewoods garden has been offered as a Winter Term class, an independent study and an opportunity for the required service hours to graduate at Eckerd College. The volunteers work together with Margaret McCabe, the science coordinator and head of the Peace Patch at Lakewood, to create lesson plans and work with the kids. They teach the children about life cycles, identify plants and insects, and they even sample the vegetables. Science classes will perform experiments and do labs in the garden such as testing the best combination of soil, water, and sunlight on the plants. The students even say that the garden has helped them try new things and eat healthier. They also say that they enjoy school more and that other schools should be able to enjoy the same experience they do. Parents have become more involved in the PTA after the introduction of the garden and students grades have improved. The garden has begun to create a community in a low-income neighborhood and generated an interest in school in otherwise disinterested kids. Overall the Edible Peace Patch appears to be a huge success so far.
Tampa Bay Watch is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of wetlands and marine environments. Tampa Bay is the largest estuary in the state of Florida and is very important to the wildlife and humans alike. Local flora and fauna depend on the watershed for a habitat, which provides protection, sustenance and a vital area to reproduce. Humans from all over the region travel to Tampa Bay to enjoy the wildlife and participate in both commercial and recreational activities, in addition to using the watershed for agricultural purposes as well.
Tampa Bay Watch was formed in 1993 to preserve the ecological balance of Tampa Bay. Many projects are organized to protect these coastal wetlands, and with the help of volunteers, these projects are regularly executed. Tampa Bay Watch hosts events like coastal clean-up to collect trash on our beaches, oyster bar construction to attract oysters that will help filter the water, habitat restoration activities such as planting marsh grasses and many more educational programs for the community to learn about and protect the bay.
"Tampa Bay Watch." Tampa Bay Watch. Web. 2 May, 2010.
The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary formed in 1971 by zoologist Ralph T. Heath. It is a nonprofit organization admitting up to 8,000 birds a year making it the largest wild bird hospital and bird sanctuary in the U.S. The sanctuary’s mission statement is to rescue, repair, rehabilitate and release injured birds back into the wild. It’s claim to fame is known as being the first facility to breed Eastern Brown Pelicans in captivity.
Its location is double ended. You can access the sanctuary via northern Gulf Boulevard, or walk directly into the sanctuary from the beach. Many birds such as Black Skimmers make nests on the beach just outside of the sanctuary. Beach nesting birds such as the Black Skimmer is one of the reasons preserving our sandy shores is vital to the ecosystem. Encroaching on their territory with tourism, dog walkers and pollution is a big deterrent to their nesting site.
The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is equipped with its own hospital. Just like any other hospital is has all the necessary features; emergency facilities, a surgical center, bird injury recovery areas, and an outdoor wild bird recuperation area. People from all around the St. Petersburg area can call the sanctuary if they find an injured bird. An employee or volunteer will come pick the bird up when they can, or else the good samaritan can bring the bird to the sanctuary themselves.
Once a bird is in the sanctuary their wounds will be diagnosed and treated. There is a fenced in enclosure for the injured birds to recover from their injuries and it will be determined if the bird can be released back into the wild. Over 600 birds are featured in the sanctuary’s display areas. These birds are too injured to be released back into the wild. When mating and offspring occur, the offspring are released into their natural habitat.
Being a nonprofit organization the sanctuary has limited funding and mostly could use more space to house more birds. On average it takes about one million dollars a year to save the birds. About ninety percent of the birds injuries are caused by humans and around thirty birds are admitted to the sanctuary every day.
“Home Page.” Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, Inc. 2008-2010. Web. 08 April 2010.
The Brooker Creek Nature Preserve located in Tarpon Springs, FL is about 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. It is a full 8,500 acres of undeveloped land surrounded by rapid suburban development. The Brooker Creek Nature Preserve is labeled as a wilderness area. Wilderness areas have been designated ever since 1964 when the Wilderness Act passed, protecting these undisturbed lands by law. Due to the $60 million deficit this year, Pinellas County may close down the preserve, thereby exposing the Brooker Creek watershed to the environmental damages caused by urban development.
All life depends on water, keeping the watershed clean is vital to keeping the ecosystem healthy. All life is connected to each other through the common need and use of the watershed, which is a big indicator of water quality. The Brooker Creek watershed is the only stream that flows into Lake Tarpon. Without the preserve, urban sprawl would certainly spread to the area, degrading the land and polluting the water eventually making it ecologically unsustainable and greatly lowering the biodiversity.
Many endangered species and larger animals that are rare in the rest of Florida, are in abundance at the preserve. Bobcats, coyotes, gopher tortoise, otters and wild turkey live in the preserve. As do the endangered air plants like orchids and animals like the Bachman’s sparrow. There is not normally enough undeveloped land in the Eastern United States to support such a large and diverse wildlife population. Brooker Creek Preserve is one of the only places in the area capable of such ecological sustainability.
Pinellas County has been collecting this undeveloped land since the 1980’s. Originally the goal was to protect water quality for a well field. It has grown into a larger environmental concern for protecting the wildlife that depends on the clean water. Citizens of Pinellas County voted for their taxes to be put to this use. To this day Pinellas County is actively going through the process of acquiring remaining contiguous wildlands.
“Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve”. Brooker Creek Nature Preserve. Oct. 2006. Web 19 Apr. 2010.
Tampa Electric Company has developed something special at their Big Bend Station. The manatees that are naturally attracted to the warmer waters during colder seasons have sought sanctuary in the power plant’s canal. Many residents of the area 20 years ago would sneak in to catch a glimpse of the creatures, so the people at TECO began volunteering on the weekends and slowly, but surely the canal became the Manatee Viewing Center it is today.
The Florida Manatee has been on the endangered species list since 1967 and is protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 among many others. Florida has officially been designated as a refuge and a sanctuary for manatees, however their numbers are still declining due to their vulnerability. As non-aggressive, slow-moving creatures they easily fall victim to irresponsible speed boat drivers. Loss of habitat due to the ever-expanding human population and development is also a major contributor to the manatee’s endangerment. Manatees also become entangled by fishing lines and nets that hinder mobility as well as cause deep lacerations that readily become infected.
Manatees are also highly susceptible to cold stress, which was a major factor this year (2010). Florida hit record lows and over 300 manatees have died statewide as of February 2010. Power plants like Big Bend provide a safe haven for the manatees during conditions like what Florida experienced in January 2010. The warm water keeps the manatees alive. It also provides a location where manatees are not susceptible to boating and fishing accidents.
TECO itself is one of many companies providing environmental leadership for business. TECO has spent 1.2 million dollars over the past decade to upgrade Big Bend Power Station’s environmental control. It uses scrubs, electrostatic precipitators and selective catalytic converter. All of these things keep the power plant’s emissions clean. Scrubs literally scrub the units keeping it clean. Electrostatic precipitators acts as an air filter and prevents polluting particles like NOX and SOX from being emitted. Selective catalytic convertors reduce the toxicity of emissions by using a chemical reaction that converts toxic by products into less toxic by products.