OIR: You were born in Miami?
C: Yes, I had an incredible childhood here, living right off Sunset Drive in South Miami. We spent every weekend at Matheson Hammock and Fairchild Tropical Garden learning about the butterflies, the ecology, and the environment that we are surrounded by. My parents were pescetarians, they wanted to raise their three children on something that was sustainable and local to the environment, so we went three times a week to the local fish market, or to the marina and Matheson Hammock, and we caught grouper, snapper, stone crab, dolphin, whatever was fresh. It was a wonderful childhood and it really was about being outside from the moment we woke up to the end of every day.
OIR: How did you end up on Key Biscayne?
C: When I came back from college, my mother, at that time, had moved to Key Biscayne. She wanted to be closer to the beach and the water. My aunt and uncle also live on Key Biscayne. And now I’ve been here ten years and for the last two years I’ve been here with my husband. We purchased a home here. I feel so fortunate to live here. It’s a natural paradise and I can ride my bike to work.
JP: What are the goals of the Biscayne Nature Center?
C: Our mission is environmental education and to create stewards out of the citizens of Miami-Dade by making them responsible for the environment. We have two hundred kids a day come through the Nature Center. We not only teach them about the environment, but let them know it belongs to them, and they are the stewards of the next generation. The Nature Center sits on the north end of Crandon Park, an 800 acre preserve donated to the City of Miami by the Matheson family in 1940.
JP: Do you feel like Miami is doing enough to take care of the precious natural resources that we live in?
C: I think that Miami is such a jewel, such an amazing place. I am a third generation Miamian and I’m so proud to be here. My grandfather was the first Hispanic mayor of the city of Miami and was mayor for 12 years. He was had an incredible vision of Miami to be this metropolitan city, which it has become. I could choose anywhere in the world to live, as well as my grandparents, and we chose to live here because of this environment. I’m here because I love Biscayne Bay, I’m here because I love the beach, I love the smell of the saltwater I love the blue skies and that is our responsibility to take care of. Do I think people are doing a good job? I mean actually, I don’t think were doing enough. I think there’s always more. Marjory Stoneman Douglas had a very strong voice in that and I think we need leaders in this community to come out and say we need to do more and this is how we can do more. And it’s not just in building, its in sustainable building. Its what can the city can sustain, its what the environment can sustain, and how can we protect it. So we can all live here together.