Earth Ambassadors Florida Environmental Excursion – UNITY, Inc.

Earth Ambassadors Florida Environmental Excursion

Kayaking and cleaning a river wasn’t on the agenda during the 2019 National UNITY Conference but that’s exactly what the UNITY Earth Ambassadors (EA) did while in Orlando, Florida. The group snuck away on Saturday, July 6 to join members of the Central Florida Recon at the Econlockhatchee River for a cleaning expedition using kayaks, buckets and trash grabbers.  This was coordinated by Frank Weaver, Environmental Protector and Filmmaker. The group recovered 54 pounds of trash, 6 tires, mattress springs and 5 fish hooks. The Central Florida Recon team were given gifts from the EAs in appreciation.

“The highlight for me was (leaving the National UNITY Conference) for the outdoor excursion (in the Econlockhatchee River) and seeing how the local environment is being impacted by pollution. I enjoyed meeting all the Earth Ambassadors and getting to know them.”

Zunneh-bah Martin, Navajo, UNITY Earth Ambassador

The Earth Ambassadors then headed to the Canaveral National Seashore to meet up with Laura Henning, Chief of Interpretation & Visitor Services at the visitor center. UNITY received an opportunity to engage Native youth in programming at a National Park with an initiative “Connecting with Our Homelands” to foster intergenerational sharing through Hopa Mountain, Inc. They viewed an informative film featuring the Canaveral Seashore and its history. Hennings asked the youth about the film’s portrayal of Indigenous history and the answer was a resounding, “we are still here.”  The film is 20 years old and the youth were asked for their input on the upcoming new film in development. The youth suggested that Florida Tribes need to be featured within its content.

A visit to the sacred mounds at the beach was short circuited by lightning.  The rain started to fall as the youth touched the waves. Lightning forbid visiting the Indigenous mounds and the trip did not go as scheduled, youthfulness being what it is, the youth enjoyed the storm. Laura Henning was also presented with a gift for her involvement with the youth, and a fish dinner at JB’s Fish Camp in New Smyrna Beach was perfect to warm up the youth through and through.  Just sayin’, the EAs had a taste of alligator. 

Earth Ambassadors continued their busy trek by hosting three workshops during the National Conference entitled: “Protecting our Land, Water & Air-Our Home.”The Presenters were the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Youth Council, Frank Weaver, Environmental Protector and Filmmaker. UNITY Youth Councils were able to gain essential tools and resources to engage in environmental awareness service projects of their own.