What is Native Flags?
A healthy, native urban canopy ensures considerable ecosystem services. Native trees provide habitat for local fauna, prevent soil erosion, offer shade and reduce electric bills, increase property values and provide global environmental benefits through the capture of carbon dioxide and the production oxygen from their leaves. Currently, Miami’s average urban canopy cover is 10%, well below the national urban average of 30%. Citizen involvement is crucial to returning tree canopies to our urban landscape.
Native Flags is a participatory eco-art project aimed at rebuilding our native tree canopy one tree at a time. Conceptualized by Miami artist Xavier Cortada, Native Flags engages residents in this urban reforestation effort by encouraging them to plant a native tree and green flag in their front yard and then encouraging their friends and neighbors to do the same. As your tree grows, community interest in protecting the environment grows with it. The urban reforestation component of Native Flags is a spinoff of Mr. Cortada’s iconic coastal habitat eco-art effort. Since 2006, red mangrove propagules have been collected by volunteers at protected areas along Miami’s coastline, exhibited in plastic cups at museums, retail stores and schools throughout the community where they grow into seedlings, and later planted by volunteers on Biscayne Bay. This process constitutes a participatory “reclamation” of coastal mangrove wetlands. Since the Native Flag’s inception in 2007, over 1,000 native trees and flags have been planted throughout Greater Miami and other parts of Florida including the Treasure Coast and Pinellas County. The Native Flags website provides a platform for participants to upload pictures and learn more about urban conservation.
Deering Estate and Native Flags
The Deering Estate at Cutler offers on-site and in-school programming opportunities, lesson plans and teacher education workshops that are designed to bring participatory art and science curriculum to teachers, youth and their families to create global citizens better equipped to provide solutions to critical urban problems today, tomorrow and for our future. Five complete lesson plans with a concurrent focus on environmental stewardship and ecoart are available to teachers and the general public for free via the website. All programs are correlated to the Sunshine State Standards and are FCAT compatible. They are structured to engage participants in interactive, positive and balanced activities that help foster an understanding and appreciation as they think critically about the world around them. Conservation in urban areas helps protect our history, our ecosystems, our health, and ultimately has the power to bring people together. The following five lesson plans will help students learn the importance of urban reforestation, how plants are vital to us, how we, as humans, have and continue to interact with our environment, the functions of the ecosystems that surround us, and interconnectedness of nature.
- Urban Reforestation: Make Your Own Pland ID Guide, Taking Care of Urban Forests, Tree’s Life Game, Draw an Urban Forest
- Plants: Plants, Soils, and Nutrients, Oh My!, Oxygen & Elodea, Space for Species, Falling Leaves
- Ethnobotany: Build a Campsite, Ethnobotany Hike, Leaf Preservations, Painting with Nature’s Colors
- Systems: Identifying Soil Layers, An Investigation into the Properties of Soil, Field Sampling Techniques, Aquifer Adventure
- Web of Life: Create a Terrarium, The Earth Bowl, Bird Adaptations, The Survival Game
Field Study Trips
The Deering Estate at Cutler is an assured destination for a wealth of experiential and recreation based educational programs that are aligned with local and state standards of learning. The Living Classroom at the Deering Estate at Cutler serves as an environmental education center for all of Miami-Dade County. The 444 acre Estate encompasses globally endangered pine rockland habitat, among the largest blocks of this ecosystem remaining in the United States, as well as coastal tropical hardwood rockland hammocks, mangrove forests, salt marshes, a coastal dune island and the submerged resources of Biscayne Bay. It is one of the few remaining Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) in Miami-Dade County. As well, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
All of our Field Study Trips include web-based, pre- and post-activity guides, interactive tours, on-site projects and can be modified to fit a particular school’s or group’s environmental science and eco-art interests.
On-Site Field Study Trips can accommodate up to 2 groups of 40 participants simultaneously. Field Study Trips are led by Education and Interpretive Staff and include one (1) Field Study and one (1) tour/hike during their visit: Fee: $9 per participant (cost of materials is included in the fee).
For more information on the Deering Estate at Cutler’s Native Flags Field Studies, please contact the Education and Interpretive Staff at 305-235-1668 ext. 242.