Cristina Gonzalez/Staff Writer
The Growth of Leadership Academics and Diversity in Ecological Sciences, a nationally recognized ecology club, aims to encourage environmental awareness and educate students on pressing environmental issues.
The student-run organization strives to make their members leaders in the environmental community through a series of ecological workshops, outdoor excursions and volunteer opportunities. The club’s executive board designs each event with a monthly theme in mind; typically, themes are based off current and critical environmental problems they feel need to be addressed.
“We’ve had themes such as biodiversity, where we went out and did a beach cleanup. We also hosted some educational programs where we talked to students about the biodiversity around them,” said Venus Garcia, GLADES president.
Past themes have also included recycling, sustainability and plastic awareness.
Every year, GLADES takes its members on a camping trip; this year the group ventured into the Big Cypress National Preserve.
“Our big camping trip this year was Big Cypress with a focus on local biodiversity,” said Garcia. “We had a tour guide and we got to show [students] Florida’s local biodiversity and why it’s so important to maintain it.”
The chapter also participates in leadership events, seminars and conferences where members are sent to present their own environmental research.
Given that the club’s main goal is to educate the FIU community about the environment, they host several workshops aimed at showing members how they can take simple actions to benefit the local environment.
“It can be something simple, such as how to [turn Coke cans into planters] in your own backyard,” said Garcia. “Overall, our ecological workshops vary either from a small contribution that you can do in your own home, a community contribution or a contribution done within the scientific community.”
Despite it being an ecology focused organization, GLADES feels that all students, regardless of their major, can benefit from learning about their surrounding environment while taking part in the club’s activities.
“We do try to reach out to all students and educate them on basic environmentalism and the ways in which they can contribute to our society,” said Garcia. “We can reach out to everybody and anybody and show them that even if you’re majoring in music, you can still do things like compost and recycle, and you can still continue to pass on this education.”
The organization also works to reach and educate students in kindergarten through eighth grade, as well as students in high schools.
“One of our biggest accomplishments has been being able to spread the word about the importance of environmental awareness,” said Garcia. “Encouraging students, especially little kids, has been one of our main goals and achievements we’ve made so far, showing them that even as young as they are, they can make a difference in their own homes, in their own schools and in their own backyards.”
For more information on GLADES or their upcoming events, visit the club’s Panther Connect page or follow their Facebook and Instagram page @fiuglades.
Featured photo courtesy of Venus Garcia.