The 40-acre park Natural Habitat Park at SPC’s Seminole Campus will serve as one of two public landscape locations for the Florida Native Plant Society Pinellas Chapter’s eighth annual Tour of Native Landscapes on Saturday, Sept. 27.

The self-guided tour, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will involve a total of six sites throughout Pinellas County. Participants are given maps and information about each site and they can visit them on their own based on their schedule during the day.

Candace “Candy” Arnold, President of the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, said that restorative efforts were part of the reason why the organization selected SPC’s Natural Habitat Park as one of the locations for the tour.

“One of the reasons is that our mission is the restoration of native plants and native plant communities,” Arnold said. “The habitat is just absolutely gorgeous.”

In 2010, the Natural Habitat Park opened after undergoing a restoration, removing exotic and non-native vegetation to better highlight the natural plant life.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity for our members to see what great restoration can look like,” she said. “If you see some of the pictures from before when they were removing some of the exotic plants, it was thick with exotics. Now it’s filled with beautiful native vegetation.”

Maura Scanlon, Assistant Professor of Biology in Environmental Science Technology at the Seminole Campus, said the habitat also serves as green space for relaxing and as an outdoor classroom for field studies.

“It is ideal as it highlights not only the beauty of native plants and animals, but also how impacted urban land can become ecologically functional again through wetland restoration,” Scanlon said.

While the habitat has not been featured on the landscape tour in prior years, members of the Florida Native Plant Society have served as speakers for students in the Associate in Science Environmental Technology program and Seminole Environmental Club at the Seminole Campus.

The Natural Habitat Park is teeming with life – including more than 250 species of birds, dragonflies, reptiles and native plants. The park features a 200-yard-long boardwalk with 12 viewing stations, a 50-seat teaching pavilion, a floating dock and a butterfly and sculpture garden.

Students from the SPC Seminole Environmental Club will provide assistance to visitors and answer questions during the tour.

“Having the park be a stop on the tour provides an opportunity for the public to learn more about SPC, our programs, and this great resource,” Scanlon said.

SPC students will host two question and answer sessions with Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian candidate for Florida Governor on Sept. 23. The sessions will be:

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
5 to 7 p.m.
ES104, Ethics and Social Sciences Building
Clearawater Campus
2465 Drew Street
Clearwater, FL 33765

Two student clubs – the Legal Studies Society and the Civics Club – have organized the events, to which all students and the public are invited. Wyllie plans to discuss his ideas and plans for higher education for the State of Florida. This is a great opportunity for all SPC students to help define this candidate’s views and plans for higher education and job opportunities for graduating students.

The college welcomes all elected officials and candidates running for office, so students can become engaged in the political process. Civics education and engagement have been the focus of ongoing efforts by the college and its Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions.

Bridgette Bello

Bridgette Bello

St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees member Bridgette Bello will address SPC Women on the Way meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 24, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on Clearwater Campus, ES-104.

Publisher of the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Bello was named Business Woman of the Year in 2011 by the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. Bello will introduce Bizwomen.com, a subsidiary of the Tampa Bay Business Journal that provides women with information and inspiration.

The meeting is open to SPC students, faculty, staff and the community.

From left: Rosaria Pipitone, Career Outreach Specialist; Katie Hicks, Administrative Services Specialist; Patrick Hernly, Academic Chair, MIRA; Dave Greenberg, Instructor; and David Manson, Professor. These Music Industry/Recording Arts related faculty and staff celebrate the program's Best Musician Incubator Best of the Bay 2014 award from Creative Loafing.

From left: Rosaria Pipitone, Career Outreach Specialist; Katie Hicks, Administrative Services Specialist; Patrick Hernly, Academic Chair, MIRA; Dave Greenberg, Instructor; and David Manson, Professor. These Music Industry/Recording Arts related faculty and staff celebrate the program’s Best Musician Incubator Best of the Bay 2014 award from Creative Loafing.

SPC’s Music Industry/Recording Arts program and bands that involve its students, alumni and faculty, were recognized in Creative Loafing magazine’s Best of the Bay 2014 edition on Thursday, Sept. 18.

Rashad Harrell, emcee for The Real Clash, accepted the award on behalf of his band mates and fellow SPC alumni.

Rashad Harrell, emcee for The Real Clash, accepted the award on behalf of his band mates and fellow SPC alumni.

MIRA, SPC’s two-year music industry program, was named Best Musician Incubator. The program, which launched in 2008, is dedicated to giving its students real-world training within a collaborative environment. The music industry program has become a popular workforce program at the college with more than 285 students enrolled in Fall 2014.

“We are very happy and appreciative for several reasons that we received this award from Creative Loafing” said Patrick Hernly, academic chair, MIRA. “It shows that MIRA is thriving and relevant in the Tampa Bay arts scene, that we have become a known brand, and, most importantly, that our students and graduates are out in the arts scene and working.”

Unlike many other institutions’ theoretical programs, MIRA promotes active learning in a collaborative environment. Students enrolled in the performance, composition and production tracks work together on a daily basis to learn from one another.

“Credit for this award goes not only to our great faculty for the high quality, hands-on experiential projects that students work on in our program, but to our excellent outreach and career services team for constantly getting our students and graduates out there working in the field,” Hernly said. “Our successful graduates are the best testament to what we’re all about.”

SPC faculty member Mark Feinman accepts the Best of the Bay Readers' Poll award for La Lucha.

SPC faculty member Mark Feinman accepts the Best of the Bay Readers’ Poll award for La Lucha.

In addition to the program’s award, numerous bands and an arts venue that involve MIRA students, alumni and faculty also were recognized, including:

  • The Real Clash, formerly known as The Real Clash of the Titans, was recognized as Best hip-hop ensemble.
  • Wolf-Face, which includes SPC alumnus Dan Byers, was recognized for Best punks.
  • Zulu Wave, which includes SPC alumnus and drummer Danny Piechocki, was recognized for Best live show.
  • Funny Bunny, which includes SPC faculty member and drummer Damon Dougherty, was named Best husband-and-wife combo.
  • The Venture Compound, which includes SPC alumnus Jesse Vance, was recognized for Best good news/bad news for St. Pete’s Warehouse Arts District when the arts venue was given its new nonprofit status.

In the Best of the Bay Readers’ Poll, the following acts also were recognized:

  • La Lucha, which includes SPC faculty members Alejandro Arenas and Mark Feinman, was recognized as Best jazz ensemble.
  • UNRB, which includes SPC alumni Eric Allaire and Nic Giordano, and former student Noel Rochford, received awards for Best local reggae/ska band and Best local ska act.  

MIRA, the bands and The Venture Compound were recognized in a ceremony at the Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg on Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Read the MIRA program and band highlights featured in the Best of the Bay 2014 edition of Creative Loafing.

SPC’s Center for Public Safety Innovation (CPSI) has received a $190,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for suicide prevention training for firefighters.

While September is National Suicide Prevention Month, preventing suicide among the nation’s first responders is a year-round focus for CPSI.

The grant will allow CPSI to offer free trainings to fire departments in the southeastern and mid-western United States. Departments will receive the tools needed to host internal trainings about suicide warning signs, steps to help a co-worker in distress, guidelines to establish prevention and support programs, and policies to follow in cases of suicide.

For the past 10 years, CPSI has offered suicide prevention training for law enforcement; two years ago, its efforts expanded to include firefighters.

“We are proud our trainings have helped thousands of police officers around the country from St. Petersburg to San Diego, Columbus to Sandy Hook,” said Eileen LaHaie, Executive Director at the Center for Public Safety Innovation. “St. Petersburg College is committed to supporting both the personal and professional development needs of the men and women who keep our communities safe. We are grateful to FEMA for allowing us to expand these efforts and work with firefighters across the nation.”

“Trainings like this are valuable because we will be able to help firefighters learn the warning signs of suicide. If they know the symptoms, they may be able to assist a brother or sister who needs support,” said Deputy Fire Chief Trip Barrs of Dunedin Fire Rescue. “By educating our staff, we can remove the stigma many feel about asking for assistance.”

ABOUT CPSI: The Center for Public Safety Innovation is based at SPC’s Allstate Center and develops and delivers high quality training for emergency and first responders, military personnel, and the general public using state-of-the-art technology and best practices in education and training.

One by one, audience members stood up as their country was called. By the time the 34 countries were announced, 100 people were standing in the Fine Arts Auditorium at SPC’s Clearwater Campus, ready to take the Oath of Allegiance to become American citizens.

Wednesday’s naturalization ceremony held by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was a first for the college. Since January, SPC has worked with USCIS to host free workshops for those interested in becoming United States citizens.

SPC student Vlora Neziri

SPC student Vlora Neziri

“It’s amazing that SPC helped organize this,” said SPC student Vlora Neziri, who addressed the audience and has been a Student Citizenship Ambassador since the program began. “Not only are they celebrating but we are celebrating with them. It shows that the college is there for the community.”

During the workshops, potential citizens learn about U.S. history and government through conversations with SPC professors and students. SPC students lead lessons plans provided by USCIS covering 100 questions that could be asked on the citizenship exam.

“We are a community institution and we thought this would be a wonderful place to hold this event,” said Joseph Smiley, Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at SPC. “The very essence of our society is based on the Constitution. It’s the most important document to any person becoming a citizen.”

The USCIS ceremony helped commemorate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, held every Sept. 17 in honor of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. This year marks the 227th anniversary of the Constitution. Celebrations are usually held the entire week and this year, USCIS will welcome more than 27,000 new citizens during 160 naturalization ceremonies from Sept. 17-23.

Along with fulfilling class requirements for service, students are getting an opportunity to give back to their community, a focus of ongoing efforts by the college and its Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions (ISPS) to strengthen civics education and engagement.

“Our students are meeting people from all over the world and seeing America through their eyes,” said Professor Suzanne Preston, who has helped spearhead the citizenship project. “It is a privilege for our students to be a part of this life-changing process.”

After issuing the formal oath, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich congratulated the group on their accomplishment and noted the responsibility that comes with it.

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich

“By becoming a citizen, you’ve made a contract with every other person in this room and in the country,” said Kovachevich, herself an SPC graduate. “We are the people and we make this country what it is. Remember this date, Sept. 17, because it is your new birthday.”

The 100 new citizens came from the following countries: Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

“What struck me about the ceremony was the sheer happiness of it,” said Neziri, who went through the naturalization process when she was 20. She will graduate in December with her A.A. degree and plans to pursue her bachelor’s at SPC. “I’m so honored to do this, because it’s important me to inspire people and give them hope. That’s the least I can do.”

USCIS invites new citizens, their families and friends to share their experiences from the ceremonies via social media using the hashtag #newUScitizen.

Help spread the word and make a difference by joining St. Petersburg College and the local movement of people who will honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 19, 2015 with a Day of Service.

This annual event draws hundreds of groups that volunteer their time and resources to make a difference in their local community. This is the third year SPC has received funds from the Florida Legislature for the event.

As part of the MLK Day of Service, you can:

  • Plan a service project and apply for a 2015 MLK Day of Service Award of up to $5,000 to fund the project
  • Serve as a volunteer in another organization or group’s service project on the MLK Day of Service
  • Organize a service project and have the project posted on this website
  • Become a donor or sponsor

To apply for a service award, applicants are strongly advised to attend an info session:

SPC Allstate Campus
3200 34th Street S., St. Petersburg, Desoto Room #103

  • Tuesday, Sept. 23, 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 25, 6-7:30 p.m.

SPC St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus
6605 5th Avenue N., St. Petersburg, AD 180

  • Saturday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m.-Noon

For more information visit www.spcollege.edu/mlkservice or contact James Robinson at Robinson.james@spcollege.edu or call 727-341-4121.


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