9,350. It is a number I think of often, as it is the approximate distance between Sydney, Australia and Rollins. There are days that it feels even farther, but today was quite the opposite. Today, everything and everyone that is Rollins College were right by my side. Allison “Alli” Hensch ’13 and I knew we wanted to give back to the Sydney community in thanks for providing endless opportunity and adventure these past five months by participating in Rollins Alumni Global Service Day.
Australia is glorified for its incredible plant and animal life. While its biodiversity may set it a part from the rest of the world, what many forget is its constant battle with outside threats. Interning at Centennial Parklands just outside of the city center, Alli learned the condition of the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub. Reaching the status of “endangered,” this plant species used to be found throughout New South Wales. Due to clearing and the impact of invasive plants, the Banksia Scrub is quickly disappearing. Through a series of ecological regeneration projects within the Parklands, such as the one Alli and I participated in today, the scrub is slowly making a comeback. By removing invasive plant and weed species, the Banksia Scrub is reemerging, bringing back the popular habitat for birds and insects and maintaining the biodiversity that is recognized throughout Australia.
This project was an opportunity to give back to Australia and save a plant species that could be lost forever. While there was always a fear of pulling the plant that we were actually working to save, we knew that even the smallest efforts make a difference. Today was about giving back on a global level and being a part of something so much bigger than any individual. It was that piece of Rollins - that community spirit and Tar pride - that are with us whether we are down the street or 9,350 miles away.
Today's project was to walk a four-mile stretch of Flagler County coastline and collect marine life for the educational programs in Whitney Labs.
Typically you do this on a low tide, looking through the seaweed at the high tide line. In that tangled web of vegetation you'll usually find tunicates, sea pork and a few bivalves. Once I found a 4-foot octopus!
Today the weather wasn't cooperating. Waves were at least 8-feet. Wind gusts up to 35kts! And occasional (but brief) rain.
I have still have all the equipment in the car to make another attempt by Monday or Tuesday.
In Marineland, Florida on November 5, 2011:
|Overcast - 64ºF (18ºC)|
|Wind Speed: N 17 MPH|
|Dewpoint: 57ºF (14ºC)|
|Visibility: 7.00 mi.|