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Virginia Key North Point: A Sense of Place  


5 hours of Professional Development (In application process)
2.5 hours Face to Face, 2.5 post assignment

Facilitated by Gary Milano, Fernando Bretos and Chelle King             Resources Related to Virginia Key Workshop

This workshop will expose participants to the unique coastal ecology and cultural history of Virginia Key North Point (VKNP). VKNP is the 17-acre northern promontory of Virginia Key that is currently undergoing habitat restoration through a partnership between the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Science Museum’s Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) program. As this area is undergoing massive environmental modification, EEI hopes to capture ecological change and social opinions. Participants will take an informational walking tour of the North Point. Experts from DERM and MUVE and local historians will give a short lecture on the history of this unique habitat and identification of native and invasive vegetation. During the informational tour, faculty will have an opportunity to actively participate in the habitat restoration: planting native dune plants, removing invasive vegetation, and documenting existing conditions. Participants will be expected to relate this workshop experience to their discipline (life science, arts, journalism, etc.) and develop ways to explore basic concepts of ecology and conservation into courses.


As a result of successful completion of the workshop, participants will be able to:

   Explain the historical events that led to Virginia Key North Point to be in need of habitat restoration.

   Describe the ecological significance of Virginia Key North Point.

   Describe how volunteer activities may be used as experiential learning opportunities for MDC students.

   Identify the native and invasive flora of Virginia Key.

   Describe the connection between the different habitats at Virginia Key North Point.

   Engage students in creating a short project that will be publicized on the MUVE and EEI websites. (short stories, photo essays, citizen science surveys, short films or journal articles about their attitudes of VKNP)

Evaluation will include completion of workshop and participant must develop a discipline specific lesson plan or course module that incorporates key concepts of sustainability and/or importance of healthy ecosystems in support of human prosperity and survival. Lesson plan is due to the director of Earth Ethics Institute within three weeks of the workshop, and will be posted on the Earth Ethics webpage. Student work related to the Virginia Key North Point will be posted on the MUVE and EEI Websites.


Fernando Bretos - Curator of Ecology and Field Conservation, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science; Director, MuVE (Museum Volunteers for the Environment) Miami Science Museum
Mr. Bretos is Director of MuVE, a volunteer based habitat restoration project that empowers South Florida residents to restore urban coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, dunes and tropical hardwood forests. As Curator of Ecology he is also helping design marine science based exhibits for a 250,000 square foot state-of-the-art museum and aquarium where the Museum will move to in 2015. A 2011 Kinship Fellow and 2010 Audubon Together Green Fellow, he holds a Master’s degree in Marine Affairs and Policy from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Oberlin College.

Chelle King -  MUVE Coordinator.  Chelle, an environmental educator, coordinates MUVE's volunteer restoration and citizen science activities. The coordinator will oversee the implementation of volunteer activities and educational outreach. She directs all educational outreach, volunteer coordination and social networking efforts, including the development of videos, blogs, social media presence, digital badges and other web-based materials. Chelle earned an MS in Biology from Truman University and is a Miami native. 

Gary Milano is a restoration ecologist with over 30 years of experience restoring Miami’s diverse natural habitats. He has overseen some of the largest, most successful efforts during his tenure with Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resource Management and the State of Florida. Milano holds a Master’s Degree in Marine Biology and Coastal Zone Management from Nova Southeastern University.


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