January 29, 2018
The Miami 1st Service Platoon welcomed over 100 new fellows and platoon leaders with open arms on Friday, January 26th. The purpose? To convene for a weekend of learning, connecting, and preparing for their new mission.
To show these newcomers what we’re made of, the weekend kicked off on Saturday with a Mission Continues must-have: a service project.
New Fellows Get Five Pieces of Advice
Veteran Derek Auguste spoke to the incoming class of fellows, leaving them with five pieces of advice as they begin their journey. Listen to his full speech below.
Alpha Class 2018 Helps Reconstruct Crandon Park
The Miami 1st Service Platoon has been partnering with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) as part of the platoon’s environmental conservation mission. The Alpha Class of 2018 supported them by restoring Crandon Park, a staple greenspace for Miami residents.
For those in Miami, the park is a household name. You would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t been there for a birthday party or to just spend time with friends and family. Regional Project Specialist Marvin Cadet said, “regardless of race or class, everyone comes to this park.”
Crandon Park is operated by our community partner, Miami Dade Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces. Plus we were also excited to partner with NPCA on yet another large-scale project that brings veterans, civilians, and parks together. (The last major project we accomplished with NPCA’s support was for our Veterans Day service project.)
NPCA’s Senior Program Manager Jacqueline Crucet, who spoke to the Alpha Class of 2018, said, “When veterans are volunteering and enjoying their parks, they have their own individual connection to that public space. It gets people to take ownership — after all, parks belong to all of us.”
She continued, “Understanding and enjoying parks today, and preserving parks for tomorrow, ties us all together.”
The Need is Clear
With an 8% increase in population over the past five years, Miami-Dade County is now projected to be home to approximately three million residents by 2025. This rapid growth in population leads to increased congestion and declining recreation and conservation open spaces.
On a national level, cities and counties average 9.5 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents: Miami-Dade has just 3.8. According to The Trust for Public Land, the average percentage of parkland in high-density cities across the U.S. is 12.4%: Miami has 6.3%.
In addition, Miami-Dade County has had 40% budget cuts over the past 10 years, which means park maintenance gets deferred and the area loses its luster.
To make matters worse, Hurricane Irma left massive destruction across Crandon Park, including to its vital sand dunes.
Why Crandon Park Matters
Despite these challenges, the preservation of Crandon Park has made it a true gem of the Miami community, where youth and families can come and interact with South Florida’s natural landscape, wildlife and sea life.
For non-locals unfamiliar with the ecological significance of this park, some of the highlights of the land today include:
- home to one of only two fossilized reefs in the world
- home to hundreds of exotic bird species (including peacocks, flamingos), sea life (sea turtles, queen conch, stingrays, sea horse, starfish, octopus) and alligators
- Several miles of barrier island coastline, which features mangroves, seagrass, sand dunes, coconut palms and white sand beach.
See the Impact
We restored sand dunes affected by Hurricane Irma, landscaping, painting, and more. See the day’s activities!
Congrats Alpha Class of 2018!
Thank you to our presenting sponsor The Florida Panthers, and our in-kind sponsors Southwest Airlines and Benjamin Moore for making this weekend possible! And of course, shout out to our national service partners at the National Parks Conservation Association for a great service project!
Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.