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National Public Lands Day:
Florida Youth Group Does Volunteer Service
On September 29, the Florida youth group did volunteer service in a Reclamation Project event with the Miami Science Museum. This was the second time we joined the Miami Science Museum for volunteer service. In June of this year, we worked with the museum at the Oleta River State Park on the Reclamation Project, as our activity for United Nations Environment day [See the July 2012 issue of this newsletter for that report.]
This second time we joined the Reclamation Project took place at the Highland Oaks Park, where volunteers celebrated National Public Lands Day by planting 500 native trees, shrubs, and grasses. Three members of the Florida Sukyo Mahikari center joined in this event: one youth group member, one junior youth group member, and one retired youth group member.
Restoring the land in this park was significant for the community, because this is where the only remaining natural river flows in Miami-Dade County, and it is one of the last remaining freshwater wetlands historically located at the headwaters of the Oleta River. After having volunteered for the Reclamation Project at the Oleta River State Park in June, the youth group made a resolution to volunteer with the Miami Science Museum once again in order to support the environment in Florida.
When the volunteers assembled at the park, the museum coordinators of the event explained the value of the land and the service that would be offered that day. They said that it would be easy to hire someone to do the work, but they stressed the importance of offering voluntary service, especially for young people. They encouraged young people to learn about nature, and to make efforts to integrate themselves in society by making a difference in their community. It was powerful to hear them stress the importance of having the heart of service and not just focus on the physical aspect of the volunteer work. The talk concluded with the request that each person falls in love with each tree they plant.
As members of Sukyo Mahikari participated, we took the activity as a training to unite in harmony and to become grateful despite the heat and humidity. It was a spiritual, mental, and physical challenge, but everyone was happy with the results and the success of overcoming obstacles together.

The Reclamation Project will continue in spring 2013, and the Florida Youth Group members hope to be allowed to continue working with the Miami Science Museum in helping create additional habitat for Florida's wildlife.

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