Last Friday, the summer associates got our hands off the keyboards and into the dirt! The Summer Associate Community Service Project day brought us to Virginia Key for a chance to show off our green thumbs.

We participated in the Virginia Key Restoration Project, an effort driven by Citizens for a Better South Florida. In addition to cleaning up the coastline, the program aims to remove invasive exotic plant species throughout a 15-acre coastal hammock area and replace them with native plants grown in the Virginia Key nursery.

Our group was assigned the task of repotting a number of native plants into nicer digs where they could really put some roots down. Later, a guided nature walk through the coastal hammock put our 6th grade science skills to the test. Tip: if you’re ever quizzed during a nature walk, just yell out “photosynthesis.” You’ll be right about 60 percent of the time.

We also learned about interesting biological reactions: when encountered with worms in the soil, certain summer associates—who shall remain nameless—emit high-pitched squeals as a defense mechanism. Nature is incredible.

A day of contributing to both the local community and the environment wrapped up with a BB-Q lunch by the beach. An A+ day in my book!

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