IPP Teams Up With Timucuan Preserve Partners

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IPP Update

CISV Jacksonville is excited to host 17 international volunteers for our IPP July 15-Aug. 2. Volunteers are coming from Austria, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Sweden, France, Portugal, and Spain.

Through the theme “Earth, Wind, Air, Fire and Heart” – IPP volunteers will explore Jacksonville’s largest urban park system in the US and will help with environmental preservation and sustainability initiatives at a variety of local organizations. Special thanks to Jacksonville University for helping make the IPP possible.

Our IPP is one of 10 across the world this summer, and the only one in the US. Click here to view other programs.

The volunteers along with JU’s Marine Science Center, the Riverkeeper and National Park Service are testing for microplastics in sediments and water at the Timucuan Preserve. The purpose of this project is to increase awareness of the global issue of marine debris and microplastics in the environment (detailed info below).

The volunteers will also:

  • learn about Florida’s land mitigation bank program with the St. John’s Water Management District
  • volunteer and learn about sustainability initiatives at the Jacksonville Zoo
  • build a bioswale on the S-Line trail in Springfield with Groundworks Jacksonville
  • remove invasive plants at the  Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • visit Gyo Greens which uses a sustainable farming method combining traditional aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water)
  • volunteer at Re-Threaded, the local organization that offers viable and creative work to those affected by the human trafficking
  • volunteer at Teacher Supply Depot, a warehouse of donated items to be supplied free to public school teachers
  • improve the Rail to Trails at historic Camp Milton with Greenscape of Jacksonville and the City of Jacksonville Parks Department

Microplastics Project Details

Tiny plastic particles (called microplastics by scientists) are invading our coastal environment as well as the world’s oceans.  The Jacksonville chapter of CISV, a global organization that educates and inspires action for a more just and peaceful world has brought a group of 19 volunteers from 10 countries, including the United States to assist the National Park Service, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, and the Northeast Florida Aquatic Preserves conduct a microplastics study.

The group will collect sediment and water samples from in and around the Timucuan Preserve and then analyze the samples at the Jacksonville University Marine Science Research Institute to determine the presence of microplastics.  The experience will provide members of the group with new skills as well as an awareness of how we all impact our precious natural resources. At the same time, they will be helping local scientists get a better idea of where microplastics are affecting our waterways and coastal areas.  During the week of July 18 through July 20, CISV citizen volunteers will be conducting this work alongside members of the agencies mentioned.

Scientists have recognized that most plastics enter the ocean from the land.  Much of the plastic is from things we all use on a daily basis.  Plastic cups and soda bottles are what most of us may think of, but there are many surprising sources as well. Some personal care items such as body washes, facial scrubs and even toothpaste contain microbeads.  Dr. Maia McGuire, a Florida Sea Grant Extension agent is quick to tell you about the Florida Microplastics Awareness Project (FMAP).  “It is a citizen scientist project that was funded in 2015 by an outreach and education grant to bring awareness, education and opportunity for volunteer citizens to collect coastal water samples, filtering them and looking for microplastics.  The idea is to let all members of our community understand how these tiny particles never biodegrade. These microplastics are then accidentally eaten by marine life, threatening their health.  In addition, toxins from these microplastics can adhere to the body surface of marine life such as dolphins.”

The data collected by the CISV volunteers will be put into the FMAP database as well as help the National Park Service manage resources with the Timucuan Preserve.  Staff of the Timucuan Preserve, the Riverkeeper and other partner agencies will then help spread the word about how all members of the Jacksonville community can help manage this pollutant in many ways, from choosing the products they may buy and use, to becoming hands-on citizen scientists.

Superintendent of the Timucuan Preserve, Chris Hughes expressed his appreciation for this team effort and desire to expand citizen science efforts in the Timucuan Preserve and the Jacksonville community.

“It is my hope that an effort like this is the beginning of a community effort, by our local citizens, to become aware of this growing environmental issue.  Microplastics in the environment is an issue that our neighbors as citizen scientists can help us understand and hence develop strategies to protect the valuable natural and recreational resources of the Timucuan Preserve and the Jacksonville community as a whole.

Lisa Taylor of CISV Jacksonville Chapter echoes those same sentiments, adding “this is a win-win situation for the local CISV chapter international volunteers and the National Park Service.  Meaningful learning experiences are provided to the CISV citizen scientists while at the same time making important contributions to the scientific efforts of scientists and the National Park Service missions to protect Timucuan Preserve and northeast Florida waterways and coastal natural resources we all enjoy. Our international volunteers will be in Jacksonville for 18 days exploring issues related to sustainable development and are excited to begin with this project.”

About CISV Jacksonville: Founded in 1950, CISV (www.cisv.org) is a global organization that educates and inspires action for a more just and peaceful world through international educational programs, primarily for youth.  CISV has 1 program targeted at adults called International Peoples Project or IPP.  These are 2-3 week volunteer projects where adults (age 19+) can work on a community project organized by the local CISV Chapter.  These volunteers helping with this microplastics study are participating in CISV Jacksonville’s IPP, the only IPP being held in the USA this year.  The Jacksonville Chapter of CISV (www.cisvjax.org) was founded in 1976 and each summer sends about 50 Jacksonville youth to international camps and programs and hosts an international program here in Jacksonville.

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