Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. Meet 16 year old John from Florida. John used his award to organize a community-wide garden weekend & revitalize the Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage (FISH) Preserve. Volunteers planted trees, shrubs & grasses on the island to help with his revitalization project.
- How many people participated in your service project? 35 people participated in this community service project, which included students from public & private schools in both Manatee and Sarasota counties.
- How many hours did you and other participants spend on the project? Countless hours were spent on this environmental project. First in working with the F.I.S.H. Board on identifying the specific needs of the Preserve, and then in determining the best ways to address those needs. This spring, central western Florida is unfortunately suffering from a severe drought. A Manatee county environmentalist advised that the initial plant selection be modified to reflect the current drought conditions; reducing the number of plants but increasing their size to bolster their chances of survival. Four members of the Board and I met several times again at the Preserve to select the best possible plant choices to conform with this recommendation. Volunteers earned four hours of community service for their participation on Saturday, April 29, 2017. In addition, volunteers are continuing to water the plants every day (unless it rains) for the next 2 -3 months, or until the plants have successfully adapted to their new environment.
- What did you learn from this experiment? I learned that people do care about our environment, but often times they just don’t know how to show their concern. This project gave people, young & old, the opportunity to have a direct impact on their community by coming together to support and improve the F.I.S.H. Preserve.
- How will your project continue having an impact in the future? Involving people, especially young students, in improving and protecting our environment will develop an appreciation for our precious natural habitat. Encouraging individuals to devote their time and energy to protecting and improving their natural environment will increase awareness of how important our environment is, and, hopefully, inspire them to take additional actions in the future to protect our natural resources.
- Overall, summarize how your project was completed and how you think it went. The F.I.S.H. Board and I consider this project to be an overwhelming success. While we initially hoped that we might be able to obtain 20 volunteers to plant the trees and shrubs, 35 people voluntarily devoted their Saturday morning to plant trees and shrubs on the F.I.S.H. Preserve, despite the temperature hitting 96 degrees Fahrenheit!
- How was the Karma for Cara microgrant helpful in the completion of your project? The grant was important because it provided the funds necessary to purchase indigenous trees and shrubs to improve the Preserve. In addition, Cara Becker’s dedication to community service inspired others to donate additional funds and supplies to ensure that the project would proceed and, hopefully, be successful. When we were advised to increase the size of the trees and shrubs, the costs of the project increased from the initial $865.00 that was provided by the Karma for Cara microgrant, to $956.00. The F.I.S.H. Board generously agreed to cover the additional $91.00, and also fund the purchase of water, snacks, and sandwiches for the volunteers. However, we still needed mulch to help maintain the moisture in the soil once the trees and shrubs were planted. We contacted Big Earth Landscape Supply and were quoted a price of $2.99 per bag for 36 bags of mulch, plus a $60.00 delivery fee. We reached out to their CEO, Adam Rickert, and explained that this project was funded by a student microgrant from the Karma for Cara Foundation and that we were already over budget. Furthermore, this project was to improve the F.I.S.H. Preserve– which is an asset to our entire community. To our delight, Adam Rickert responded that he would donate the mulch to F.I.S.H. and would not charge a fee for delivery!