Brightmark

Making MUVEs in Coastal Restoration: How Frost Science is Helping to Save Florida’s Habitats

by Brightmark February 24th, 2022
An exclusive interview with Shannon Jones, Conservation Programs Manager at Frost Science.

 

 

Located in Downtown Miami, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science (Frost Science) is a leading science museum dedicated to sharing the power of science, sparking wonder and investigation, and fueling innovation for the future. With over a decade of expertise in field-based conservation projects, Frost Science’s conservation programs educate and inspire action on marine and coastal preservation in South Florida and the Caribbean.

Are you interested in supporting MUVE? Explore their website here, where you can join an event or adopt a sea oat! Learn more here.

 

Please provide a little background on yourself and how you became acquainted with Frost Science.

At a young age, I fell in love with dolphins, the ocean, and everything it inhabits after my first visit to SeaWorld at age 7. I wanted to be a marine biologist and study the wonders of the ocean. I studied psychology at Penn State as an undergrad, focusing on animal cognition. Afterward, I took a research assistantship in Kona, HI, to help study resident spinner dolphins. During that experience, I realized that our world’s resources are not adequately conserved and need help to survive. My goal in life is to teach this message to inspire a love of nature and a yearning to make changes to protect the world around us. I realized there was a lack of communication and outreach regarding our oceans. It is vital to connect the science community with the public to create a joint environmental awareness and conservation effort for a sustainable and healthy future.

That brought me back to school to receive my Master’s in Professional Science from the University of Miami. After working in science communication at NOAA’s AOML and Fisheries, I was the education and conservation manager at Miami Seaquarium for three years before transferring to Frost Science.

 

What is your role at Frost Science?

As the Conservation Programs Manager, I adhere to the Frost Science Conservation Plan while updating our programs with new projects and accomplished metrics. Most of our activities rely on maintaining a database of stakeholders and volunteers, keeping them informed of restoration activities through monthly newsletters, blogs, distribution lists, social media, direct email/phone, etc.

I coordinate volunteer restoration activities at Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) coastal habitat restoration sites and post-restoration monitoring through unique citizen science platforms. This program engages the community in habitat restoration projects and volunteerism to help enhance coastal ecosystems, increasing biodiversity and stable shorelines.

I oversee internship, volunteer, and student projects, ensuring timely completion and scientific rigor while liaising with Frost Science partners, including the City of Miami and Miami Dade County Resilience offices and non-profits, schools, and municipalities while maintaining relationships with program funders. These programs require a consistent form of funding, which I help procure donations and write grants.

 

Please explain what MUVE is and Frost Science’s involvement.

MUVE is a volunteer-based habitat restoration program at Frost Science that engages residents in citizen science and restoring coastal environments that once thrived in Miami. Since 2007, over 10,000 volunteers have restored more than 25 acres of mangroves, freshwater wetlands, dune habitat, and coastal forest. Volunteers attend one of our monthly volunteer workdays and help remove exotic vegetation, clean marine debris, and plant native flora.

 

How have you seen MUVE influence the community?

Besides providing students and residents an outlet for engaging with nature and giving back to the environment, I think the most exciting thing to come out of MUVE is the collaborations and community involvement. For example, Virginia Key North Point has a very active mountain biking community. Before restoration of this area began, the community there was hesitant about the intentions of MUVE, the City of Miami, and Miami-Dade County as to why we were removing all of these invasive species and what would happen to their bike trails. After many meetings and conversations, the individuals began to see how beneficial our work was not just for wildlife but how it helped enhance their bike trails and surrounding areas. It truly gives meaning to seeing the users enjoying these restored public spaces.

 

What are some of your significant takeaways from working at Frost Science and being part of the MUVE program?

My biggest takeaway from being a part of Frost Science’s conservation programs is the importance of working together. At Frost Science, we have so many resources, but we don’t have all the answers. We will solve the planet’s issues by collaborating with other organizations, universities, businesses, community members, etc. It takes a diverse village to make meaningful change.

 

Is there anything specific you’d like to see individuals take away from being part of MUVE or visiting Frost Science?

I want individuals to take away the real threats facing our environment and know they are severe issues, but also know it isn’t all doom and gloom. It can be overwhelming learning about the state of our planet, but if each individual finds a passion for conservation and focuses on trying to make a change, the world would be much better off.

 

What’s your favorite sea creature and why?

Spotted dolphins are my favorite sea creature, although I love them all! Dolphins have a special place in my heart because they are what got me interested in marine science in the first place. The first time I ever saw a spotted dolphin in the wild, it was a mom-calf pair, and I just thought they were the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen.

 

What do you like about Brightmark, and what is the value of working with us?

I love how engaged Brightmark employees are. You can tell they are very passionate about marine science and genuinely want to learn about efforts to protect our oceans. They come to our workday events, learn to dive, and stay involved with Frost Science’s conservation efforts. Their sponsorship of three MUVE Workdays is crucial to allowing organizations and school groups to participate in philanthropic activities, which they may otherwise not be able to attend due to the cost of transportation, food, and supplies. We can’t wait to continue our partnership with Brightmark!

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