EPA funding critical for the preservation of South Florida’s marine ecosystems

By Sebastian Villanueva

As FIU advocates urged Congress to restore important funding for EPA’s South Florida Geographic Initiative, President Mark B. Rosenberg took the time to meet with this summer’s D.C. interns, who had  fun cheering on FIU researcher Mike Heithaus during Shark Week.

Advocating for EPA’s South Florida Geographic Initiative

On July 18, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, FY 2018. This bill will dictate the allocation of federal funds for certain ecological projects. The bill fails to adequately address the Everglades watershed as a vital ecosystem that requires autonomous funding in order to monitor and maintain the quality of our South Florida marine ecosystems. As of now, the funding for this South Florida environmental assessment initiative has been cut.

The South Florida Geographic Initiative, created under the EPA in 1992, is a formalized partnership between federal/state governments, NGOs, academic institutions and private citizens that addresses the necessity for healthy South Florida ecosystems. This initiative attempts to preserve the ecological integrity of the Everglades while mitigating the effects of rapid urbanization, pollution and environmental degradation.

Without access to funding, this initiative cannot continue its work and there may be significant ramifications for our South Florida community negatively impacting our water quality and the overall viability of our surrounding environment. FIU’s Governmental Relations team will continue to work with Florida’s State Legislature and Congress in order to vie for the future of South Florida’s ecological communities.

President’s Lunch at FIU in D.C. 

On July 27, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg visited Washington for his annual President’s Lunch to facilitate dialogue with our student-interns to actively discuss the future of the university and reimagine ways in which FIU can continue to lead in all academic and professional spaces.

“The main mission of FIU is to prepare students for this rapidly changing, accelerated environment that we’re living in,” Rosenberg said.

During the lunch, students were able to have their voices heard through a thought-provoking discussion and innovative ideas were brought to the fore. Our president was in D.C. chairing the 2017 Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence (CADE) Summer Meeting, where he directed the discussion on the need for accessibility and diversity in higher education.

In Rosenberg’s opening remarks to the student-interns, he presented his vision for what the future of FIU will look like in the face of a rapidly evolving job market and an increasingly competitive talent base of young professionals. According to the president, future FIU students will possess the necessary technical competencies and experience-based skills that will allow them to thrive in their prospective careers.

Shark Week Viewing Party

In preparation for Shark Week 2017, FIU in D.C. hosted an in-office viewing of the Discovery Channel feature ‘Devil Sharks,’ featuring FIU marine biologist and Dean of FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences, and Education (CASE) Michael Heithaus. Heithaus took audiences through the complex marine environment of South Florida and showcased the beauty of its surrounding marine ecosystems and the unique animals that inhabit them.

Panthers Spotted:

  • Stinghouse Advertising and Marketing:  Alberto Padron and Christy Vidal
  • FIU Alumni Relations: Sara DuCuennois and Rebecca Solomon
  • Jason Gonzalez and Discovery Network