Key Biscayne

South Florida club teaches kids about the environment



• What: Junior Naturalist EarthKeepers Club

• Where: Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, 6767 Crandon Blvd. Key Biscayne

• When: The club began its second season on Saturday, Oct. 26 and will hold adventures through April 26

• Cost: $1 membership fee, $20 per adventure per student

This season’s adventures:

• Dec. 7: Planting Day

• Feb. 8: Seagrass Adventure

• April 26: Wild & Scenic Film Festival

With sunscreen-lathered noses, members took to the beach on Oct. 26 to conduct water quality testing using pH strips and dissolvable oxygen tablets. Students shook the tablets in vials of seawater until they dissolved into shades of pink, using a color wheel to determine the acidity of the water.

Daelyn brainstorms the ideas for the adventures and manages an email list of over 200 members, teachers and club supporters. Although this seems like a heavy workload for a sixth grader, Daelyn said the hardest part of her job was her interview with the nature center last year.

“I was really nervous because I really wanted this club to happen,” Daelyn said. “Now everything comes naturally. I come up with ideas for the events based on what I think needs help like cleaning the beach or planting a garden for the women’s shelter.”

In December, the club will learn how to start a vegetable garden by preparing potted plants for local Lotus House Women’s Center.

“We support her and help to implement her ideas and make them possible,” said Theodora Long, executive director of the nature center, which is a partner with Miami-Dade public schools.

The club has a $1 membership fee and each adventure is $20 per student. Graff said the club has a small endowment for children whose families cannot afford the costs.

The adventures cap depending on available supervision, but usually accommodate 15 to 25 students. Children of all ages can join, but a guardian must accompany those under 8.

Daelyn is not sure what she wants to do when she grows up, but she said she will always be eco-friendly and wants to encourage her friends to be environmentally conscious too.

“I want people to understand and care about the environment just as much as I do,” she said. “I might not be able to make them care, but I can try. I explain to everyone that it’s not just about your lollipop wrapper, it’s about everyone’s lollipop wrappers littering the beach.”

Miami Herald

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