Volunteer Copy

We Need Your Help…

Enjoy a day on the beach and choose a project that interests you the most!
We welcome all volunteers from age 16 to 108 !

Volunteer restoration day is every very 1st Saturday of the Month from 9am to noon.

Beach Clean-ups are every 3rd Saturday of the Month from 9am to noon.

For Information contact the Cradon Park Naturalists at 305-361-6767 x-112

An area in BNC was designated and dug out to form a basin, rainwater was collected through rain gutters on the building and transported through pipes into what is now a freshwater pond, an additional ecosystem, in order to enrich the educational programs offered to public schools and citizens. We are now in the process of removing invasive exotics, invasive natives, and the excess detritus that has built up, which has changed the bathymetry of the pond from its original depth of 0-4ft (at the center) to now 0-1.5ft. Several plants were removed from the pond. Typha species which were introduced to filter excess nutrients, but have now run too far, so Mr. Typha (a volunteer) pruned the community. Torpedo grass has invaded the western perimeter of the pond and the Torpedo crew combatted the community, but since this grass is so invasive, only 15% was removed, which means we still need plenty of volunteers. Eliocharis spp. is a native plant but has an invasive tendency, so twin Ms. & Ms. Eliocharis pruned part of the community. Muskgrass (an algae) was also controlled Ms. Algae, she found that it was creeping all over the pond basin, as well as floating algae. Finally there was Mr. & Ms. Myrtle, removing all the dead myrtles on the perimeter of the pond. Unfortunately, this past summer 2004, the pond suffered tremendously. Our managerial staff did not know the restrictions on liquid disposal, and discarded a large load of saltwater into our pond. There was plenty of die offs. We believe that this may have affected the myrtle plants, although these plants are usually found in hardwood hammocks, where flooding is not common. We will be transplanting several myrtle plants on our next restoration day.

Exotic plants not only displace native plants, some are parasitic, they change the soil composition, increase competition within the faunal populations, and reduce diversity. The Nature Center has focussed mostly on St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), the Oyster plant (Rhoeo spathacea), and the Morning Glorywhich has reduced the stress on the native plants.

A Japanese Tomato Ring (JTR) is originally intended to increase the amount of nutrients that your tomato plant receives to increase the yield, but here at the nature center we are using it for the native plants in the area. We will create a butterfly garden on the perimeter of the JTR and through time, measure the effects on the different stages of butterflies inhabiting this micro ecosystem.The center of this JTR consists of alternating layers of leaves, twigs, and compost such as banana peels & apple cores that students discard during lunch time. Rather than adding weight to the waste production, we will add the nutrients to our soil.

The nature center has created a brand new seed bank in order to have a backup plan in case of hurricanes and their detrimental effects on our terrestrial plants, and to have the opportunity to manage our existing ecosystems. We are also working on propagation of native plants through air layering and clippings, as well as, transport of seedlings. The seedlings that are harvested, are those which emerge near or under the canopy of the mother plant, which, if not harvested the seedlings will not survive due to chemicals produced by the plant to prevent inbreeding and lack of sunlight. The importance of these three projects is to increase the number of plant species, increase plant diversity, and reforest areas that are inhabited by exotic grasses with the use of the local plants whose gene pool is local and specific to Key Biscayne, rather than bringing in native plants from nurseries that who knows where they came from.

When one removes an exotic, there is an open space for any plant to colonize. Usually the first ones to colonize the area are exotics or “weedy” species. This is why it is important to remove and replace right away! BNC wishes to diversify the plant species on the area and the diversity is 10-fold. The reason for this is because you increase plant diversity, as well as all the soils, soil organisms, insects, birds, etc. that are associated with the plants. Part of our mission is to conserve plant germplasm for future generations to sustainably utilize.

Your day will also include:

      • A guided tour of our south Florida ecosystem exhibit room including discussions about Florida marine life, including sea turtles, sea horses and jellyfish.
      • All equipment is provided: nets, lifejackets and buckets (if applicable)
      • Optional Add-on: A squid dissection lab can be added to any of the above adventures for $2 per student.

The wrong cleaning detergents may have a major negative effect on the natural environment. Here at BNC we need to make sure we are using the most environmentally safe. Therefore we decided to start a project to study the products we currently use and are trying to find alternatives that have less impact.

We have a list of the seagrass bed species found here and are compiling current research on specific species. This will be available to all who visit the center in the future. If you are interested in helping to enrich our library as a volunteer, call us.

BNC Library, Seagrass monitoring, Solar aerator