“[On Saturday, October 25th] I managed to fit nine people into my minivan and we road tripped our way to Wekiva Island to do an IDEAS clean-up. We were very pleased when we arrived to find that three other IDEAS members were already waiting to get things going. We loaded up, 2 or 3 persons per canoe and we were off. Almost immediately we spotted turtles, ospreys, gators and….trash.

10418967_780977178625838_1524875802314322188_nLuckily we had an amazing clean-up crew that picked up any signs of trash in our pathway. You could call us the “trash busters” if you saw the amount of trash we collected over a three hour span of time. The clean-up ran from 9am-12pm and members stayed a couple hours after to help pick up the Island as well as enjoy the beauties of nature surrounding us. The clean-up was the perfect opportunity for members to realize how important it is to protect our wildlife, springs, and other aquatic ecosystems that are so vital to the state of Florida. Not only for the economy and tourism but for the beauty and wonder that nature provides us and its ability to humble the human species. Not only that, but it brought IDEAS members together to collaborate, become closer with one another and to give back to Mother Nature who provides so many resources for us as humans on a daily basis. I was personally in awe of how beautiful Florida truly is and how it is worth protecting for future generations to come. I want to be able to bring my future children to Wekiva Island and show them how beautiful it is and has been since I was a child.

Overall, the event was a success and our efforts prevailed. This was obvious when we all collectively put our trash together and sorted it into recycling bins on site at the island. We found shoes, old clothing, hats, cans, bottles, and various odds and ends including an IPhone and a digital camera. Our efforts may not seem large but we’ll help in the long run as we are doing our part to keeping different ecosystems clean and usable for others. It would be ideal for every person to clean-up after themselves but, clean-up crews, like members of IDEAS, are here to face reality and keep our environment pristine.

I’d like to give a special thanks to Mary Sue Weinaug who allowed us to set-up the clean-up in the first place. Much thanks to her and the rest of the staff at Wekiva Island. IDEAS will be back in the future and that’s a promise.”

-Kaila Varano