Palm Beach Youth Leadership
Environmental Day Dispatch
5:00am: Wake up, shower, drag myself downstairs, sit down to eat breakfast, and begin to review my itinerary for the day. Glance at the destination I had mapped the night before and realize that I mapped the route starting from my girlfriend’s house in Boca as opposed to my own house in West Palm. Mistake number 1: waking up an hour and a half earlier than I needed. Back to sleep.
6:45am: Wake up (Round 2), throw on flip-flops, board-shorts and a tank-top because I planned on a day of canoeing, and open the door only to be swept off my feet by an artic blast. Checking my phone, I realize that it was a chilly 35 degrees. I head back upstairs in search of socks, hand warmers, and a ski jacket. Mistake number 2: My mom didn’t tell me that it was going to be cold.
7:00am: Bundled up in warm, winter clothes, I finally left my house. Settling in for the car ride ahead, I suddenly remember the unsigned waiver sitting on my kitchen counter and hitch a U-turn. I retrieved the waiver and once again began my drive to Grassy Waters. Three mistakes and it wasn’t even eight o’clock.
7:50am: I arrived at Grassy Waters and listened to the agenda for the day.
8:30am: We were off to the Solid Waste Authority, what an appropriate destination considering the crappy start to my day.
8:45am: We arrived. I was bombarded by the smell of burning plastics and the sight of hungry vultures; interestingly enough, this was when my day finally began to turn around for the better. Here we were introduced to our SWA tour guide, a woman by the name of Mrs. Blackman. She was full of interesting statistics about the immensity of our county’s garbage disposal and made me realize the importance of recycling.
10:15am: We left the recycling plant and headed east for a change in scenery. After a five minute boat ride, we arrived at Peanut Island at about 10:45am. Here we split into two groups and toured the historic Kennedy Bunker and Maritime Base. After sixteen and a half years of living in Palm Beach County and countless trips to Peanut Island, this was the first time I ever got to enter the Kennedy Bunker. I thought it was extremely interesting, though significantly gloomier and more metallic than seemed fit for a family as prestigious as the Kennedys. I felt almost as though I was inside of soup can, a presidential soup can.
11:45am: We dined on subs and then played a friendly game of football on the beach. Erick Hopkins pointed out a few manatees in the water as we circled the perimeter of the island. The tide was coming in and consequently crystal clear.
12:30pm: After a few hours on the beach we were ready to head back inland to explore another Floridian ecosystem. By one o’clock I was cruising the boardwalk at Grassy Waters Preserve and learning about various plants. Some were edible, some were colorful, and our tour guide was familiar with all of them. He looked the part of a wilderness man; wielding a hand carved walking stick and cloaked in short-shorts.
2:30pm: By this time we had finished meandering the boardwalk and began to climb aboard canoes. We got in groups of two or three and set off across the sea grass. Dodging alligators and splashes from friendly canoes, I got to see a side of Florida I had never seen before. I thought that the marsh was gorgeous and I hope to return. Our canoe expedition leader taught us about different ways to tell whether the water is healthy or not. Not surprisingly, the Grassy Waters Preserved was very healthy and obviously well kept.
3:45pm: We were back in the parking lot to discuss the events of the day with our friends and fill out a questionnaire about the day. I reflected back on the day and jotted down a few notes to keep in mind for writing the itinerary. Not only did I gain insight about the local environment but I grew closer to my fellow Palm Beach County Youth Leaders.