UCF Arboretum Attends Orlando Wetlands Festival To Bring Awareness To Florida’s Environment

Members of the UCF Arboretum tabled at the Orlando Wetlands Festival on Saturday afternoon to bring awareness to the community about the impacted wetlands on campus and discuss their mission for years to come.

The Orlando Wetlands Festival was open to everyone including local families in order to help them become environmentally aware and in the know about the significance of local wetlands, Orlando Wetlands park manager Mark Sees said.

Since 1987, the Orlando Wetlands Park has been in continuous operation, polishing approximately 5.11 billion gallons of reclaimed water annually, according to the Orlando Wetlands Park website.

The Orlando Wetlands Park has had a steady relationship with the UCF arboretum and has provided plants and other materials for their work, Sees said.

“The UCF Arboretum likes to be apart of the greater community,” UCF junior and greenhouse coordinator Jena Osmani said.

The arboretum likes to get involved in community events that share a common goal, Arboretum Programs Coordinator Kelsie Johnson said.

“The wetlands, as an ecosystem, are really vital to Florida and are such a distinguishing characteristic of natural Florida and are also under threat, so we like to come out and show our support,” Osmani said.

Urbanization is a threat to the wetlands, especially the seven acres of natural land right on campus, Johnson said. This acreage consists of natural forests and two cypress domes, one being pristine, and one being impacted by the buildup of campus.

The community surrounding UCF is very important to arboretum members, Johnson said.

“We have direct contact to students, but it is the community that we are trying to get connected with,” Johnson said.

The UCF Arboretum plans to make this happen by transitioning their seven acres of natural land into a public botanical garden to give the community a reoccurring feeling of welcome, Johnson said.

“UCF Arboretum is trying to extend out to the community while still being on a college campus,” Johnson said.

The arboretum plans to have this project completed over the next 10 years with the help from community partnerships, grants and fundraisers, Johnson said. Johnson’s vision includes an amphitheater, a bridge over the canal, and more plants and trees.

“We want this space to be a resource for students who are already here, but we want the community to cognitively think the space is for the entire community,” Johnson said.

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