MIAMI – On Friday, April 10, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science welcomed the Natural History Museum of Jamaica of the Institute of Jamaica for a VIP reception, under the patronage of the Consul General of Jamaica to Miami, and in support of a cultural exchange partnership between the two museums connecting students and scientists in Jamaica and the USA through environmental restoration projects.
Guests enjoyed an evening of live music and Caribbean-inspired cuisine, including tostones with mango salsa, yucca fritters with passion fruit garnish, and fried lobster. After the cocktail hour, guests entered the theater, and were welcomed by Gillian Thomas, President and CEO of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.
Following a joint presentation by the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and the Natural History Museum of Jamaica, US and Jamaican students who had joined exchange trips to the partner country spoke about their experiences.
The evening culminated with a beautiful tree offering by Anne Marie Bonner, the Executive Director of Institute of Jamaica, who gifted native Jamaican plants to Gillian Thomas, Franz Hall, the Consulate General of Jamaica, and Barron Channer, the National Board Member for The American Friends of Jamaica.
The evening reception honored the American Alliance of Museums’ grant-funded project, Citizen-Led Urban Environmental Restoration (#JaMUVE), between the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and the Natural History Museum of Jamaica.
The goal is to create communities of environmentally active citizens where youth in Miami and Kingston take action to restore urban habitats, while interacting with their international counterparts. The project utilizes multiple strategies to maximize engagement among participants. These include: interaction with scientists trained in science communication by Museum staff; engagement with partner youth and scientists in real time via social media; and meaningful, hands-on citizen science opportunities. At monthly environmental restoration events in each country, youth conduct activities such as removing and cataloging trash, planting trees, and monitoring changes in biodiversity.
This past March, select youth from Miami joined Miami project staff Chelle King and Florida International University scientist Danielle Ogurcak on an exchange trip to Jamaica to assist in their restoration efforts and learn from their Jamaican counterparts.
On April 9, four high school students from Jamaica arrived in Miami to join Kingston project staff Dionne Newell and Jamaican scientist Keron Campbell in assisting with the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science restoration efforts in Virginia Key. The students visited Virginia Key on April 11 to volunteer at the Museum’s current coastal restoration site, contributing to a biodiversity survey (a BioBlitz), removing invasive plant species, monitoring environmental parameters, and removing trash from the delicate coastal ecosystem, including a loggerhead sea turtle nesting beach.