I, along with several other LLCers, spent spring break in Florida doing environmental service work as part of the Alternative Break (AB) program. I was pleasantly surprised with how much learning was able to fit into just 1 week. It was great to take switch towards doing rather than simply thinking about and observing environmental issues.
The projects we worked on include: invasive species removal, oyster bed construction, trail/bridge maintenance, and planting. Each of these were very unique experiences. During the invasive species removal we worked with students from Boston University to remove strawberry guava trees. The environment we were doing this in was very interesting; it was almost like being in a jungle. Chopping down so many trees felt strange at the start. It took some learning and understanding about their impact on the environment to see the good in clearing them. It was very interesting working with new people. The leaders of the Boston University team didn’t even come into the trip with an interest in sustainability, as they had been randomly assigned. During oyster bed construction we worked with Florida Oceanographic to create and place bags of shells in a bay. Oyster spawn will be placed here later; the shells are a very good environment for them to grow in. Working on the footbridge allowed me to see the work it takes to keep all the trail systems we use, usable. We used power tools to put together planks in order to build a massive support for the bridge. While we didn’t end up seeing it finished, the results are clear as people passed by us even as we were building it. The planting showed me how permanent of an effect effort can have on an environment. It was a lot of work to plant the 800 plants we did, but we completely changed the environment we were working in.
While a lot of the projects we worked on are still ongoing, the impact our help had on them was huge. Despite this, the projects still have so much that still needs to be done. The work was very hard for us and I can only imagine how it will be for the people who actually make these projects happen. A vision of everyone helping out with environmental and sustainability projects struck me. It would make the work already happening so much easier and faster. It would even allow people to work on more things, and would certainly bring more projects into fruition. While this vision might not entirely be possible. Any work any of us do definitely makes it more realistic.