Follow Me: SCA member blogs from the field

Follow Me is the place to read field dispatches from SCA members serving the planet all over the USA.

After a restful Wednesday, my fellow campers and I visited Rio Sierra Vista State Park — one of only 5 Mediterranean climates in the world alongside the Mediterranean Basin, Chile, Southern Australia and South Africa. To say the least it was a rare sight to behold.

There were rolling hills, for miles it appeared, and expanses of dense green.

Hello, readers!

My third day of camping and serving with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) in the Santa Monica Mountains has wrapped up.

Yesterday was a day of toil well worth the exhaustion. We spent several hours at Santa Monica Beach Park removing the rest of the leafy carnations and clover weeds.

Tavon Betts | March 13, 2013

Today we picked up right where we left off at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. We picked up a ton of knowledge about native and invasive plants yesterday, and the Park staff was extremely impressed that we remembered pretty much everything. No reiteration necessary!

“Today, we’re ripping out weeds,” Mark, a mountain-of-a-man with weather-beaten skin, said this morning. Mine and my fellow camper’s toes were still thawing out.

Santa Monica Beach State Park, the host of an Alternative Spring Break with the Student Conservation Association is gorgeous, but deceptive. Mine and my group’s first day, Sunday, was warm.

Tavon Betts | March 13, 2013

Today was my first full day with the Student Conservation Association, and already I know this will be a memorable experience. I traveled from Atlanta, with a layover flight in Las Vegas, then to Burbank, CA. At the Burbank airport I was greeted by jovial and enthusiastic participants, project leader, and staff.

Tired and proud machete wielders.

There’s a reason I keep coming back to the SCA. The work is rewarding, the food is delicious, and the locations are beautiful. But all those factors combined cannot trump the best the SCA has to offer: its people.

The SCA draws its participants from a variety of backgrounds.

Over the course of today we got to experience what building a community is truly like, through the destruction of another. You may have seen in Justin and Kenneth’s blogs that they have already experienced the demolition site. Our main goal today was to help remove a house that, through acquisition, is now located in Big Cypress National Preserve.

History of fire at BCNP.

It’s Thursday night, Day 5. Hard to believe we arrived in Southwest Florida just five days ago. In less than 36 hours, our first members will be headed to the airport to catch their flights back north. An intense and fantastic week is in fact coming to a close.

Our project leader, Toby, expressed it best in welcoming us to the Alternative Spring Break adventure.

Today we found ourselves canoeing through mangroves, and trudging through Big Cypress National Preserve at the Gator Hook turn off (in case you want to find it because it’s awesome!), for a day full of sun, adventure, and exploring the wilderness.

The canoe trip entailed traveling down the little crest, and out towards the Gulf of Mexico.

Today was a recreation day, and it was amazing. First we went on a canoe trip on the Black Water River in Collier Seminole State Park. We learned a lot about the different mangroves and the Natives that used to live here.

Yesterday I shared some of the work that we were doing in Big Cypress protecting the RCW’s (Red Cockaded Woodpecker) which is an endangered species. The other thing that is really cool about the RCW’s that many people don’t know is that they build these awesome nests in live pine trees most of the time.

Jacob rests on the front loader following a tough day in the field.

When I signed up for the Student “Conservation” Association’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB), I thought knew what to expect. We’d be doing some planting, some harvesting, some taking care of the land.

So today was a lot warmer waking up, so i must say, I was in an incredible mood. Breakfast was great and I have to give it up to Elliot, our cook. I have a passion for cooking, but I can’t imagine rustling up some of the grub that Elliot does at our campsite. He’s been fantastic.

After breakfast we headed out to our designated worksite.

Just in case you missed the last one, RCW’s are red cockaded woodpeckers, an endangered species. Big Cypress National Preserve is a huge place, so to try and find these RCW homes (specific pine trees) is quite a challenge. Being out in the wilderness in Big Cypress is like being out in a maze; every direction looks the same!

The cohort after a great buggy ride out to the worksite.

From our early ancestors’ use of lightning strikes for ignition, to the discovery of the flint, to the modern-day advancements of spark plugs and lighters, fire has, and will always be, a cornerstone to human civilization.

We as humans depend on fire for cooking. We rely on fire to keep us warm in the harshest of climates.

ASB crew members hard at work. Back (left to right): Nick, Chris, Tom. Front: Kenneth.

Officially, Big Cypress is a National “Preserve”, but why should we be so bland? Why not call it what it really is? After all, we have national forests, national grasslands, national seashores, national lakeshores, etc., etc., etc. The benefits of these descriptive names are many.

Big Cypress National Swamp

Tamiami Trail

Today was a very eventful day! After another chilly breakfast we headed straight out to our designated work sites. We split up into groups so we were all assigned different tasks.

Photo: Only 25% of tents are pictured.

Meeting 35 new people at once is never easy. Never mind getting to know them in the dark of night.

Wrapping up the first full day of ASB with the Student Conservation Association has been a blast! Here is a quick round up of my past 24 hrs: Flew into Ft.

Photo: Air plants

So today was our first day waking up at the campsite in Collier Seminole Park. I must say
it is a bit chillier than I anticipated, or packed for. After waking up and eating breakfast we played a couple games and got to know the friendly faces we have the pleasure of sharing this experience with.

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