Discovering the Kennedy Space Center and attending a SpaceX rocket launch, Cape Canaveral, June 3, 2017
Another must-see place while in Florida is the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Discovering the Visitor's Center and all its equipment is a little wonder for any guest. Timing of the weekend visit was not random either, it was a well planned trip, since the students wanted to see the SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch with a Dragon spacecraft for the resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Using their own words - "Seeing the launch was a really really good experience for us."
Delivering a presentation by Intelligentsia's program future participant, Lilongwe, Malawi, May 30, 2017
Intelligentsia has hosted students from 68 nations so far. Nation #69 - Malawi - will be represented by Freda Lumanga, coming to Florida later this summer. Freda is an IREX Community Solutions Program Fellow and while in Intelligentsia, she will study Florida's recycling programs, deal with water/sanitation grant programs of Rotary International and optionally embark on a 20-day transcontinental train trip for her professional development activities. Freda delivered an initial presentation to her local Rotary club of Lilongwe, Malawi in an effort to raise funds for the train trip at the end of her CSP program with Intelligentsia. To keep a track of Freda's progress, follow her blog.
Discovering the Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park, Everglades City, May 29, 2017
After spending a weekend in the noisy and hectic Miami, Kevin, Aurelien and Theo took the scenic US41 through the Big Cypress National Preserve for calming down a bit and enjoying its quietness. They stopped in Everglades City at the edge of the Everglades National Park for an airboat ride. Such a ride is not exactly a quiet activity, but the easiest way to discover the national park's marshes and mangroves.
Spending a weekend in Miami, May 27, 2017
A place everyone who comes to Florida wants to visit is Miami. It was the same for our 3 French students Kevin, Aurelien and Theo, since Miami is simply unique. Citing Kevin and his impression: "Our first impression of Miami was Ouuuaaahhh!! The shock between the French and American culture could have not been bigger. On one hand the excess of large buildings, wide road, huge cars with a lot of noise was impressive, on the other hand this approach is so very much different from the Paris climate change conference accords."
Attending Climate Rally and March, Ft. Lauderdale, April 29, 2017
On Saturday, April 29, in Ft Lauderdale, our program participants Aurelien and Theo along with office manager Nargis attended rally and march promoting awareness of climate change and its effects on the environment in South Florida. They set up an exhibit about Campus Climate Corps and talked to people attending the event. Many important topics by the many rally speeches, particularly the local message of how climate change impacts water in all communities. The event was part of a set of national rallies and marches to bring national attention to the climate change crisis and the need for dramatic and immediate action for the sake of future generations. Aurelien and Theo are study renewable energy science & engineering at Ecole Centrale Lyon.
Jiahua Zhou and Nan Xu receiving university acceptance and assistantship offers for their PhD program, April 24, 2017
After spending six months at Intelligentsia International as post-Masters Degree OPT students, both Jiahua Zhou and Nan Xu received university acceptance and assistantship offers for their PhD programs at multiple universities (University of Florida, University of South Florida and University of Maryland). Jiahua and Nan credit their OPT program at Intelligentisia International in LaBelle, Florida as being instrumental in them qualifying for the assistantship offers as well as in allowing them time to pursue the university selection and application process. During their OPT program with Intelligentsia, they produced a range of technical reports and presented a poster at a professional conference. Their newly gained experience and their demonstration of professional fortitude proved to be essential in successfully competing for PhD acceptance and assistantship offers.
Annual Swamp Cabbage Festival and staffing the Calusa Waterkeeper booth, LaBelle, February 25-26, 2017
Our program participant Abder helped with staffing the Calusa Waterkeeper booth during the LaBelle Swamp Cabbage Festival. The annual festival was taking place for the 51st time this year, with all range of events, such as parade, car show, rodeo and fishing tournament. Almost 20,000 people visited LaBelle to enjoy music, food, crafts, and amusement rides along the Caloosahatchee River.
Completing the summarization of biofuels sustainability project,
LaBelle, February 17, 2017
Michal Fidler and Nan Xu completed
the assembly, summarization, and uploading of all Intelligentsia
International and University of Florida product documents related
to their Department of Energy / Hendry County grant to investigate
biofuels sustainability at the Hendry County Sustainable Biofuels
Center. More publications are still in the works, but during her
time at Intelligentsia, Nan accomplished (and learned) a lot by
gathering and processing the 90+ documents that are posted at http://www.intelligentsia-international.org/DOE2012
Presentations at Democratic Progressive Caucus of Lee County, Ft.
Myers, February 15, 2017
Dr. Capece was the quest speaker
at the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Lee County. He presented
slides to the audience of 90 people on the Calusa Waterkeeper program
and the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida - two organizations
focused on critical environmental issues.
Advocacy Fair and Day of Action, Weston, February 4, 2017
Intelligentsia's student Abderrahmane
and Dr. John Capece joined Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
and representatives from area advocacy organizations for an Advocacy
Fair and Day of Action. John set up a table to talk with people
on a range of current issues and sign up new members of the Democratic
Environmental Caucus of Florida. John and Debbie worked together
as UF students involved in campus politics in the late 1980's. Together
they founded the UF Graduate Student Council; Debbie was the group's
first President and John was the first Secretary.
Visiting the UF Everglades Research and Education Center, Belle
Glade February 3, 2017
Nan and Jiahua traveled to the
UF Everglades Research and Education Center at Belle Glade to meet
with faculty and attend a seminar. While there they had their photo
taken at the infamous subsidence post that, since 1924, has documented
the steady oxidation loss of the region's organic (muck) soil on
which its agriculture is based. The ground surface at the top of
the post in 1926. Six feet of soil has been lost since then. Additional
soil was lost from 1905 to 1924 during the early years of drainage
and farming in the region. Soil subsidence was faster at first and
gradually declines as the easily oxidized portions of the soil disappear
leaving only the more resilient organics and the permanent mineral
matter. More than 8 feet of soil has been lost at this location
with only a few feet remaining above the limestone bedrock in this
Afternoon BBQ and canoeing at Fisheating Creek, January 28, 2017
Our group went to the Fisheating
Creek for an afternoon BBQ and canoe. While the water was rather
low, canoeing was possible and the number of gators we saw was rather
high. Upon return to the camp site delicious BBQ was prepared, wrapping
up a relaxing day in wonderful nature.
Attending research poster contest at the 26th Annual SW FL Water
Resources Conference, Ft. Myers, January 13, 2017
Jiahua Zhou and Nan Xu participated
in the research poster contest at the 26th Annual Southwest Florida
Water Resources Conference held at Florida Gulf Coast University
on January 13, 2017 and attended by 150 students and professional.
The title of their poster was Water Storage Effects on Soil Subsidence
and Crop Yield in Everglades Agricultural Area Sugarcane Farms.
Supervising their work on the project were Dr. Kamal Alsharif of
University of South Florida and Dr. John Capece of Intelligentsia
International. More than 20 posters were exhibited by undergraduate
and graduate students.
Attending the FGCU STEM Undergraduate Research and Internship symposium,
Ft. Myers, December 2, 2016
On Dec 2, 2016 we attended the
STEM Undergraduate Research and Internship Poster Session held on
the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. More
than 50 posters were on display by students presenting their internships
as well as seeking internships. Florine presented about her tasks
in Intelligentsia International as well as in our partnering organization
Caloosahatchee Riverwatch. Nargis helped answer questions from students
interested in Riverwatch and Intelligentsia. Florine's poster can
be viewed here.
Attending the Conference of Youth (COY12), Marrakesh (Morocco),
November 4-6, 2016
Two Florida based organizations
attended the Conference of Youth (COY11) in Marrakesh - Intelligentsia
International Inc. was represented by its director Michal Fidler,
Campus Climate Corps were represented by Rock Aboujaoude. Many students
were informed about climate change issues and approaches of American
NGO's to tackles them, a technical workshop was delivered, many
ideas exchanged. It was an interesting educational event addressing
climate change issues. On the other hand, the results of the US
presidential election put all these efforts in question. However,
we can not and will not give up!
Attending Clinton/Gore political rally, Miami, October 11, 2016
Nargis and Florine attended the
Hillary Clinton / Al Gore political rally in Miami. At the time
the U.S. has fallen behind on its commitment to cut greenhouse-gas
emissions included in the Paris Agreement and the time Florida becomes
more vulnerable to sea-level rise, the speeches from both the current
presidential candidate and former vice president delved into the
climate change science and policy. Just to summarize the points
of view - Clinton indicates that solving climate issues is a top
national priority, Trump thinks it is "a hoax invented by China".
It is not that hard to tell who is right, is it?
Trump political rally, Fort Myers, September 19, 2016
Nargis, Nan, Jiahua, and Yuqi
attended the Trump political rally in Ft. Myers. Dr. Capece encouraged
the students to attend as part of their American cultural orientation,
but recommended that everyone treat the experience like a trip to
an amusement park or zoo - looking at the bizarre sights, taking
lots of pictures, but not getting too near, since some definitely
would bite if provoked. The rally audience was almost exclusively
white, so our group of Chinese students surely stood out :)
flow measurement experiments during a field trip, LaBelle, September
Yohan, Yuqi, and Dr. Capece spent
a day doing field work to conduct an experiment using a vibration
sensor constructed by a previous student, Youseff. They sought to
use the sensor as a flow measurement tool for water passing through
an underground valve and pipe system. The purpose was to develop
procedured for system leak detection.
the 9th Annual Southwest Florida Water & Wastewater Exposition,
Fort Myers, September 8, 2016
Dr. Capece invited our students
to the 9th Annual Southwest Florida Water & Wastewater Exposition
in downtown Fort Myers. The exhibition allowed our students to get
up-to-date on the newest equipment and technology, which will be
helpful on some of the assignments they do in LaBelle (e.g. when
detecting leaks in water pipes). They could also network with consultants,
manufacturers and other professionals.
launching its own boat, Fort Myers, September 7, 2016
Nargis, one of Intelligentsia's
directors, appeared on NBC2 during its coverage about CRCA/Riverwatch
(a group of volunteer environmentalists) launching its own boat
in order to test independently the water quality on the Caloosahatchee
River. CRCA/Riverwatch recently joined the Waterkeeper's Alliance,
a worldwide leader in clean water advocacy. Our students are often
offered volunteering tasks with CRCA/Riverwatch, yet another learning
opportunity about Florida's environmental issues.
meeting at the Port LaBelle Utility System office, LaBelle, September
Yohan, Yuqi, and Dr. Capece met
with Roger Greer, Director of Port LaBelle Utility System, to review
GIS maps created from old utility design drawings. The purpose was
to prepare the project bid package so that contractors can estimate
the cost of testing to find and repair leaks in the system.
maintenance chores, LaBelle, August 21, 2016
Students help out and get rent
credit for helping to maintain the yards at their dorms and office.
Dr. John Capece does this task when students are not available or
willing. The grass grows fast during the summer and is cut every
two weeks. This weekend John cut the grass on 3 yards and Jiahua
around 1 of the student's residences. Doing this during the summer
can be a sweaty job. John complains he sits behind a desk or in
meetings for too many hours each week, so he welcomes a few hours
walking the mower in the Florida heat and sun. Students aren't always
quite as enthusiastic about this yard maintenance ritual that most
American residents perform as a normal aspect of the US suburban
the Big Sugar Summit #2, West Palm Beach, August 20, 2016
On August 20, 2016, a group of
Intelligentsia students attended the Big Sugar Summit #2 in West
Palm Beach. The day-long meeting explored issues surrounding the
full range of obstacles to solutions for Lake Okeechobee nutrient
pollution and fresh water release to coastal estuaries. Intelligentsia's
students could attend thanks to our ongoing cooperation with the
Florida Chapter of Sierra Club.
Touring the NASA facilities, Cape Canaveral, August 13, 2016
Supriya, Nargis, Sanjiv and Yohan
spent a full day visiting the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral,
surely the most interesting learning experience site for Florida
visitors. They took a bus tour, where they saw the NASA's actual
launch pads. They also walked through the rocket garden, learning
about the early space exploration missions and seeing the Atlantis
Space Shuttle that traveled more than 30-times between the Earth
and the ISS. They saw a 3D movie documenting astronauts life on
the ISS and appreciated the realness of the launch simulator as
well. At the end of the day, they met with Dr. Capece and Rock,
who were attending the Democratic Party training workshop. Over
a dinner and some ice-cream they all discussed various challenges
of the upcoming presidential elections. A long, but very interesting
on a train trip around the entire USA, July 16 - August 6, 2016
Mathilde, a 4-th year student
from Ecole Universitaire de Management Clermont-Ferrand in France,
went on a 3-weeks train trip around the entire USA after completing
her 4-months program in Florida. She planned the journey using an
AMTRAK travel SOP (plan) developed by Intelligentsia in the process
of sending several other students on similar trips over the years.
Mathilde planned her stops in advance and made sure that a long
list of the country's highlights were included - Washington DC,
New York City, Chicago, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Los Angeles,
Las Vegas, Grand Canyon. As shown below, she now basically has the
complete set of US tourism photos :) And after returning safe and
sound, she says "it was really AWESOME! I saw and did many
things, and I met a lot of people. Everybody was nice with me."
The photos clearly show that she has done plenty, so once again
(and exactly like during her whole program with us in Florida) -
great job :) Mathilde earned an "excellent" evaluation
from Intelligentsia after her exceptional accomplishments for the
Caloosahatchee Riverwatch web page, Facebook page, newsletters,
and other projects.
foreign guests/old friends, Miami, August 2-3, 2016
On Aug 2 & 3, 2016, Dr. John
Capece and Nargis met with Mohib and Ahmed to discuss their interest
in US graduate studies. John had met Mohid in Dec 2015 when he and
Dr. Selim Dogan did a presentation for students of Selcuk University
in Konya, Turkey. They experienced Florida water from the Everglades
to Miami Beach.
office tasks from a public library, Fort Myers, July 11, 2016
On Mondays, our students usually
have an opportunity to handle their office tasks from a public library
in Fort Myers downtown. On July 11, Mathilde, Hongyu and Nan went
to one of the public libraries with their laptops and spent several
hours there. After completing their tasks, Mathilde and Hongyu showed
the city to the newly arrived student Nan, because it was her first
time in town.
Studios and Islands of Adventure, Orlando, June 25-26, 2016
Mathilde and Hongyu went to Orlando's
Universal Studios on Saturday, June 25 and Universal Islands of
Adventure on Sunday, June 26. They rented a car to get there and
according to them, "the best area in Universal was Harry Potter".
Of course they had a chance to take photos with many different characters,
e.g. Dora, Barney or Bumblebee from Transformers. They say that
it was a fantastic trip.
Mathilde's birthday, LaBelle, June 15, 2016
Our French student, Mathilde,
celebrated her birthday on June 15. She turned 22 and although she
was thousands of miles from her home, she said that she was very
happy to spend this day in USA. In order to have a small celebration,
Mathilde, Nargis and Hongyu went to Don's Steak House to have a
delicious dinner. Shirley, the restaurant manager, then prepared
a chocolate cake for Mathilde. Happy birthday from all of us!
weekend in Miami and Key West, May 26 - May 30, 2016
Mathilde, Youssef and Hongyu had
an interesting plan for the extended Memorial Day weekend. On Friday,
they wondered around the skyscrapers in the downtown of Miami and
relaxed on the famous Miami Beach. On Saturday they visited the
Seaquarium, where they saw dolphins, sea lions, penguins and orcas.
On Sunday they took a bus to Key West, where they visited the charming
lighthouse as well as the house of Ernest Hemingway. Finally, on
Monday they took a bit more beach time and then traveled back to
LaBelle to absorb all the new experiences.
together in student's house, LaBelle, May 19, 2016
One of the advantages of our students
living together in a house includes the opportunity to cook and
dine together. And when the students are international, the meal
becomes even more interesting affair. Mathilde (from France), Youssef
(from Morocco) and Hongyu (from China) cooked together fish, pasta
and potatoes, each of them adding a bit of their home nation's flavor,
making the dinner a real treat for all of them.
visiting an organic vegetable farm, Clewiston, May 18, 2016
Our program participant Hongyu
visited together with Dr. Capece a farm in Clewiston, which will
be cooperating with our office on implementing a solar system to
operate their organic vegetable shadehouse & hydroponics as
well as their aquacultural production and processing system.
spending an extended weekend in NYC, May 13 - May 16, 2016
After collecting a sufficient
number of makeup hours, Youssef decided to take 2 days off, so he
could enjoy an extended weekend (Fri - Mon) in NYC. He started his
adventures by walking through the Central Park, visited the Empire
State Building in order to enjoy the panoramic view of Manhattan,
wondered around the WTC Memorial, took the Staten Island ferry to
see up-close the Statue of Liberty, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge
and finished his trip by enjoying the colorful view of the Times
Square. We are pretty sure that he was somehow reluctant to return
to Florida after just a weekend in NYC, given that the number of
attractions is slightly higher there than it is in LaBelle :)
forum on the C-43 West Reservoir project, Ft. Myers, May 11, 2016
Our program participants attended
a public forum in Ft Myers to discuss the C-43 West Reservoir project
- a 15 square mile, $600 million water storage project to help balance
estuary salinity of the Caloosahatchee River. The event was hosted
by Riverwatch and SW Florida Watershed Council, offering our students
an unique opportunity to see closely how political, interpersonal
and other dimensions apply to discussions about environmental issues
on a beach, Ft Myers Beach, May 8, 2016
Who would say "no"
to a relaxing Sunday on a beach? The closest beach to LaBelle is
Ft. Myers Beach (only 45 minutes drive), so Mathilde with Youssef
spent a leisure Sunday there, enjoying the silky beach, seeing friendly
dolphins and watching the sunset.
Visiting SeaWorld, Orlando, May 1, 2016
Mathilde and Youssef went to
Orlando's famous SeaWorld, a theme park offering roller coasters,
rides, shows, tours and attractions for thrill seekers and animal
lovers. Since they spent the whole day there, they managed to do
some of the attractions twice :) Obviously, they did not miss the
famous orca, dolphins and sea lions shows and at the end of the
day they bought souvenirs to remember the enjoyable day.
Visiting Busch Gardens, Tampa, April 30, 2016
Mathilde and Youssef spent their
Saturday in Busch Gardens in Tampa, where they visited a list of
attractions and saw in the park giraffes, elephants and zebras.
They took a train to see these animals, and also they saw a show
called "Iceploration". A perfect day!
Gatorama, Palmdale, April 17, 2016
Mathilde, Meryem and Youssef
went to Gatorama, a famous alligator and crocodile farm located
just few miles from LaBelle. They saw big alligators and other wild
animals there, mostly different snakes and also the famous Florida
panther. They had the time to see an alligator show and were brave
to take few alligators in hands.
Day related events, Naples and Port Charlotte, April 16, 2016
Earth Day celebration kept Dr.
John Capece, director of Intelligentsia Internatiinal very busy
- during the day he acted together with Phil Schwartz as representatives
of the Caloosahatchee Riverwatch, which joined Harrison Langley
& Jesse Roberts from Collier County Waterkeeper for an exhibit
at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples for an Earth Day
celebration. In the evening, Charlotte County Democratic Chair,
Valerie Guenther welcomed Dr. Capece, this time in the role of the
President of the Southwest Chapter of the Democratic Environmental
Caucus of Florida, to the Charlotte County Democratic Party Blue
Gala fundraiser. Over 120 attendees were introduced to the new caucus
that was created to organize volunteers and educate candidates and
voters on issues of water, land and wildlife stewardship in Florida.
Intelligentsia students help with projects related to seeking a
change to Florida law, allowing homeowners to sell their excess
solar power to users other than their regional electric utility.
Intelligentsia students often support similar environment related
Board of Directors meeting, April 6, 2016
Our partner organization Riverwatch/CRCA
meets often in very interesting places. This time our student Mathilde
attended the Riverwatch/CRCA Board of Directors meeting held on
the Amara Zee - a 90 ft sailing ship, where Caravan Stage Company
(a non-profit professional theater company) performs original experimental
opera/dance theater shows on the docket boat, while the audience
watches the show from the shore facing the ship.
Visiting Disney World, Orlando, April 3, 2016
After visiting NASA on Saturday, Meryem, Mathilde and Youssef spent their Sunday in EPCOT, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom in Orlando. They were brave enough to go to attractions like "The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" or "Rock 'n' Roller Coaster". In the evening they saw fireworks, wrapping-up their perfect, action-packed, weekend.
Space Center, Merritt Island/Cape Canaveral, April 2, 2016
Meryem, Mathilde and Youssef
spent a full day visiting the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral,
probably the most interesting learning experience for Florida visitors.
Our students took the standard tour - visiting the actual launch
sites of NASA, scaling the fascinating Saturn V rocket, walking
through the rocket garden, learning about the early space exploration
missions and even touching a piece of the real Moon's rock.
signatures on the "Floridians for Solar Choice" petition,
LaBelle, February 27-28, 2016
During the annual Swamp Cabbage
Festival, Meryem and Nargis collected 100+ signatures on the "Floridians
for Solar Choice" petition. FSL is committee that is working
for good solar policy in Florida, including a constitutional amendment
that would give Florida’s families and businesses the right
to choose solar power, as well as fighting for fair policy development
in the legislature.
it yourself" home maintenance, LaBelle, February 1, 2016
A week after arriving to the
USA for the first time, our program participant Meryem had another
"first time" unexpected experience - she cut grass around
the house where she resides during her stay with us. "Do it
yourself" home maintenance is a common American activity, including
(among others) cutting the grass. Some students face these maintenance
tasks for the first time in their life, so we have SOPs describing
how the tasks should be done correctly and safely. In this specific
case, Meryem cleaned the air filter, checked the oil level, added
gas to the fuel tank, wore boots and eyes protection and was all
set to mow. The yard looks great now, well done! Taking care of
the yard is part of the weekly dorm inspection and it also counts
towards rent waiver credits.
dinner hosted at Country, Homes and Land (CHL), LaBelle, January
John, Nargis and Meryem had a
dinner hosted by Tommy at the home/office of Country, Homes and
Land (CHL) in LaBelle on the evening of January 30. Intelligentsia
has done a number of technical projects with CHL over the past 10
at the Bull Market, University of South Florida, Tampa, January
Every Wednesday during the Fall
and Spring semesters, vendors and student organizations set up tables
and sell items or hand out information to students at the Bull Market
within the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa. This Wednesday,
our program participant Deborah was among the presenters, recruiting
students who might become active with the College Democrats at USF
or with Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida (DECF), getting
signatures for Floridians for Solar Choice (FSC) initiative and
talking with USF students about the climate change issues addressed
through our volunteering program.
the 9th Biennial Emergy Research Conference, Gainesville, January
7 - 9, 2016
Our program participants Victor
and Deborah attended the 9th Biennial Emergy Research Conference
held on the campus of the University of Florids in Gainesville.
The purpose of this 3-days conference is to provide a forum for
meaningful discussion expressly dedicated to theory, principles,
and applications of the Emergy (embodied energy) methodology. UF
is the world-leader in this field of science, so attending this
conference is really a top-nothc opportunity. Victor agrees, writing
us after the experience that "it was really rewarding, I really
appreciate what I learned there." We cannot agree more, because
learning about systems analysis (emergy analysis is just one type)
is important in shaping how people look at the world and learn how
to measure and interpret its complexity.
in the Myakka River State Park, December 13, 2015
On Sunday, Dec 13, 2015, Victor,
Matthias and Floriane went for a hike in the Myakka River State
Park, which is a natural wetlands area and one of the Florida's
largest and oldest nature parks. They hiked about 10 miles into
the forests, and as they said, "it was a very pleasant day
to walk and ideal for a picnic".
the Florida Gun Show, Fort Myers, December 12, 2015
This past Saturday was quite
unique for two of our French participants, Floriane and Matthias.
As Floriane said - "our neighbor offered us to go to Florida
Gun Show in Fort Myers and then trying to shoot at a target. We
had several lively debates with him about firearms carrying, so
he wanted us to discover his views. It was a very interesting experience,
with much adrenaline. We understood that it was a real leisure for
many Americans, but we are not yet convinced that legalization of
firearms carrying is a good idea (but it remains our view as French
and it will not change despite the attack we had in Paris)."
former Intelligentsia program participant Volkan, Istanbul, December
On his last day in Turkey, John
enjoyed a surprised visit from 2001 Intelligentsia program participant
Volkan Demyrtas. Volkan showed John a "real" Istanbul
neighborhood where some of Volkan's family live. They shared coffee
and conversation in a bakery where Volkan presented John with a
gift for his mother Barbara (who Volkan always remembers as the
person who taught him to drive so many years ago). For his departure
from Turkey, John had traveled from Cappadocia to Konya and Ankara
by bus, then by high-speed train from Ankara to Pendik, then by
bus and metro across the Bosporus to Istanbul. During his brief
visit to Ankara, John had a short time in the train station to meet
with friends of Tolga: Murat - a business man doing educational
programs in Turkey and development projects in Africa, also Battal
and Deniz to discuss their interest in the Intelligentsia program.
former Intelligentsia program participant Tolga, Istanbul and Cappadocia,
Tolga Sengul was part of the
Intelligentsia program back in 2002 when he was an electrical engineering
student. Today Tolga oversees the control systems, electronics and
electrical aspects of large construction projects in many nations.
When he heard that John would be in Turkey in December 2015, Tolga
made arrangements to spend a week with John and Nargis showing them
around Istanbul and Cappodocia. It was a wonderful reunion with
Tolga after 14 years and an amazing trip across Turkey.
former Intelligentsia program participant Selim, Konya (Turkey),
December 8, 2015
On Dec 8, 2015, Dr. Selim Dogan,
Intelligentsia program participant in 2002, hosted Dr. John Capece
for a seminar at Selcuk University in Konya, Turkey. More than 100
students and faculty attended the presentation jointly delivered
by John and Selim. Dr. Dogan is a professor in the Department of
Environmental Engineering of Selcuk University, one of the largest
universities in Turkey. Selim invited John to Konya upon learning
he would pass through Turkey on his return trip from Paris. John
also enjoyed a home visit to meet and share dinner with Selim's
wife and three children. Selim gave John a tour of Konya, home to
the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi master Rumi.
attending COP21, Paris, November 30 - December 11, 2015
After completing his 3.5-months
program in Florida, Guillame flew back to France on Nov 24. Between
Nov 26-28 he was helping out at the COY11 conference. Between Nov
30 - Dec 11 he also attended the COP21 conference. When at COP21,
he also spoke with Segolene Royal (French minister of sustainable
development and energy) and as he says: "It was incredible
and really impressive." We agree, his last few days were very
busy, so well done!
parade, LaBelle, December 5, 2015
Deborah and Matthias went to
the Christmas Parade in LaBelle, which took place on Fri, Dec 5.
The parade went through the whole town, ending up in the Baron Park.
Deborah said that "it was a great time and nice to see it,
because we do not have any parade like that for Christmas in France"
in the Shark Valley, Everglades NP, November 29, 2015
Our students spent this Saturday
in the Everglades, where they were hiking (almost 15 miles) in the
Shark Valley. They saw gators, birds and spiders. They came back
tanned quite a lot - well, they were absolutely red rather than
tanned :) But as the students said, "it has been a great "meeting"
with the Florida's nature, wildlife and landscapes."
the Conference of Youth (COY11), Paris, November 26-28, 2015
Five Florida based organizations
attended the Conference of Youth (COY11) in Paris - Intelligentsia
International Inc., Campus Climate Corps, Alpha Epsilon Lambda,
Floridians for Solar Choice and Democratic Environmental Caucus
of Florida. Many French and foreign students were informed about
climate change issues and approaches of American NGO's to tackles
them, a technical workshop was delivered, many interesting ideas
exchanged. As a bonus, several of the former students of III (back
to 2010) visited and helped with staffing our booth. It was a great
event addressing climate change issues and a nice reunion of several
of our former students.
former Intelligentsia program participant Margherita, Paris, Nov
26-Nov 28, 2015
Former Intelligentsia program
participant from 2010, Margherita Fanchiotti, helped talk to students
at the Campus Climate Corps exhibit and served as a workshop presenter
during the UN Conference of Youth 11. Afterwards, Margherita hosted
III staff John Capece, Nargis Abduvohidova, and Michal Fidler for
lunch and a tour at the UNESCO headquarters where she works (the
view of the Eiffel Tower was spectacular). Margherita is Italian,
was a US program participant, is now working on her doctoral degree
from University of Southampton in England with support from UNESCO
in Paris on a project in South Asia. Margherita is about as "international"
as one can be.
dinner with Conner family, Palmdale, November 26, 2015
For the Thanksgiving dinner,
all our students were invited by the Conner family to Placid Lake,
where they shared this holidays with their family and friends. Everyone
ate the mandatory turkey and our foreign students discovered sweet
potato pie and other southern food. During Thanksgiving people are
supposed to be together and it worked out for our students this
year just great.
the Gatorama farm, Palmdale, November 15, 2015
Less than 20 miles from LaBelle
is located Palmdale, a small village with its famous alligator and
crocodile farm called Gatorama. This Florida's original farm with
daily shows makes for an interesting adventure. Its motto is "Fast
Hands or No Hands", but it is obviously a safe attraction.
Even for those, who are brave enough to hold a alligator in hands
- of course the alligators that are allowed to be held by the visitors
are only baby-gators :)
Vue development project rally, Fort Myers, October 30, 2015
Development of high-rise condominium
complex (called The Vue) is one of the issues CRCA/Riverwatch has
been involved at. Developers of The Vue plan to build in the lot
adjacent to Fort Myers's Centennial Park, environmental groups argue
that it's too tall and too close to the Park and the Caloosahatchee
River. Intelligentsia students were invited by CRCA/Riverwatch to
attend one of the rallies (covered by NBC2) that took place prior
Fort Myers's Planning Board will be discussing The Vue development
project. Such experience offers our students a close look into the
"battles" between developers, environmentalists and politicians.
night dinner, LaBelle, October 29, 2015
James Sloan, Hendry County Court
Judge, invited our group of students to spend the pre-Halloween
evening with his family. Being in the house of the Judge, handling
domestic violence cases, on almost the Halloween night was not scary
at all :) It was fun to work on pumpkins decorations, prepare pumpkin
cakes and then have a barbecue dinner. Thanks for the invitation!
The decorated pumpkins are now welcoming visitors in our student's
Breakfast and Networking, Fort Myers, October 22, 2015
CRCA/Riverwatch directors invited
several of our students to attend the Environmental Breakfast and
Networking event at Fort Myers on Oct 22. Jason Lauritsen, Director
of Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, was the guest speaker and
presented about Corkscrew and its conservation programs. It was
an interesting business breakfast for our students to attend.
classic cars show, LaBelle, October 20, 2015
Barron Park in LaBelle hosted
an open cruise-in exhibition of American classic cars. Of course
that our French students attracted an attention while wondering
around the cars, Americans are very friendly. Deborah and Floriane
were invited for a dinner and discovered yet another way to merge
with the local community in order to learn more about the American
way of living.
friends in Lake Placid, October 18, 2015
Members of the Conner family
are our friends from Lake Placid, a small city less than 45 minutes
ride from LaBelle. The family invited us to spend this Sunday in
their house at the lake - they enjoy the company of us as mostly
foreign students, we enjoy their company as very friendly American
patriots and we all enjoy barbecue, water skiing and tubing. So
a great day that we hope to do soon again!
ZombiCon, Fort Myers, October 17, 2015
Our neighbor and friend Heather
offered to help with putting on make-up before us going to ZombiCon
(zombie-themed music and art fest) in Fort Myers. More than 20,000
people attended. We had great fun to dance and scare the others.
When the event turned bad, we were on our way back home already.
It is so unfortunate when incidents like the one on ZombiCon happen,
fortunately everyone from us is safe and well.
afternoon in Fort Myers Beach, October 3, 2015
After the morning presentations
to an FGCU Colloquium class, our students group went to close-by
Fort Myers Beach to spend a leisure afternoon there - enjoying the
sea, playing beach volleyball, watching a sunset. And of course,
time had to be spared for an obligatory shopping :)
presentations to an FGCU Colloquium class, Fort Myers, October 3,
Today, Deborah, Stanislas, Guillaume
and Foucault delivered presentations to an FGCU Colloquium class
of Dr. Peter Ndiang'ui. The course is a seminar series providing
students with an overview of the local and global environment required
for all FGCU student.
path of hurricane Joaquin, October 1, 2015
Seldom does a hurricane come
this near to Florida and not cause us serious concern. Typically
we would be preparing for a storm hitting us in a few days, but
the track of this week's eastern US and Atlantic air currents appears
will force the storm Joaquin north or perhaps even eastward. We
stay tuned, we will see.
& oxbows orientation tour, LaBelle, September 27, 2015
Our friend and CRCA/Riverwatch
Director Phil Schwartz gave a river & oxbows orientation tour
to IREX Fellow Carilyn Martin as well as few of our other program
participants - Deborah and Victor. Carilyn is helping with the CRCA/Riverwatch
website, this was her first on-water experience with our river.
by the Caloosahatche River, September 26, 2015
For lunch, we sometimes sit by
the Caloosahatchee River three blocks from the office. On this warm
September day a lizard, camouflaged for its environment searched
for its lunch while Nargis, John and Carilyn ate their lunch bought
at the pizzeria behind the office, one of several fast food places
near the office.
trip to the orange groves of John Paul, LaBelle, September 22, 2015
Today, Morgane and Victor went
on a field trip to the orange groves of John Paul, south of LaBelle.
They were measuring the water management structures of different
types of groves, those irrigated with subsurface pipes, microjets,
and drip tubes. This is a preliminary step in their design of an
experiment to evaluate the effects of water management strategies
on reducing damage caused to the trees by the citrus greening disease.
They also took note of the colorful fauna.
completed by Justine, Youssef and Bertrand, September 18, 2015
Justine, Youssef and Bertrand
completed their programs with us today and departed back to Europe.
Dr. Capece drove them to the airport then shared coffee and conversation
with them at the airport before their departure. During the past
months in Florida, Justine primarily dealt with Port LaBelle Utility
System (PLUS) issues, Youssef did various programming assignments
and Bertrand was THE guy dealing with a range of technological issues.
We might meet again during the Climate Change Symposium that will
take place in Paris in this November, so hopefully we will see each
other soon again!
interview about climate changes by Morgane, September 17, 2015
While attending the Sea Level
Rise Symposium in West Palm Beach on August 1 (see
details here), one of our students - Morgane - was asked for
an interview with the New Mercury Media - PNN radio to share her
opinion about climate change. Morgane has a double citizenship (French
and American), so she was a perfect candidate to share her point
of view on the climate change issue from the perspective of an European
as well as an American. The radio interview can be accessed
by Dr. John Capece to the Rotary Club of LaBelle, September 8, 2015
The Rotary Club of LaBelle invited
Dr. John Capece to deliver a presentation to their club today. John
described current Intelligentsia programs, including joint Rotary-Intelligentsia
projects in LaBelle Nature Park. IREX Fellow Carilyn Martin also
attended the meeting.
the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, September 5, 2015
The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
is located less than 1 hour drive from LaBelle. It is an interesting
nature site with a boardwalk and observation decks, which few of
our participants toured on Sunday. This site offers to observe up-close
a vast array of plants and animals that can live in this place,
which is sometimes land, sometimes water and sometimes both. The
weather was also like that today - sometimes sunny, sometimes stormy.
Still (and maybe also because of that) it was a great trip.
LaBelle Nature Park cleanup, September 4, 2015
LaBelle Nature Park clean up
was scheduled for Saturday, September 4. Carilyn attended and helped
with pulling the invasive weeds at the front of the Park. As a bonus,
she also toured the Park with Ms. Marti Daltry, who is documenting
the invasive plant species in the Park.
meeting, LaBelle, September 2, 2015
Our program participant and IREX
Fellow, Carilyn Martin, attended her first CRCA/Riverwatch meeting
after having contributed to production of its August
monthly newsletter. For the next 3.5 months, Carilyn will manage
the CRCA/Riverwatch website & newsletter and will also help
with developing new CRCA/Riverwatch project proposals. Intelligentsia
participants Floriane and Guillaume also attended the Riverwatch
Storm Erika, August 24 - 29, 2015
Florida is located in the occasional
path of summer tropical storms and hurricanes. With being right
in the middle of this year's hurricane season (beginning Jun 1 and
ending Nov 30), for the past few days there was a potential threat
to Florida from tropical storm Erika. With 2 newly arriving students
(Deborah and Matthias) this past weekend we were somehow worried
about their eventual travel delays. Fortunately, The National Hurricane
Center declared that Erika dissipated near the north coast of eastern
Cuba on Saturday, Aug 29 and Florida was saved from strong winds
and potential flooding. Both Deborah and Matthias thus arrived OK
and everyone in the office is safe and sound.
Savannah, Georgia for an extended weekend, August 28-30, 2015
Few our students drove quite
a distance to visit Savannah, a beautiful city in Georgia known
for its emerald tree canopy, quaint cobblestone streets and majestic
architecture. They walked around the center, enjoyed the City Market,
listened to music played live every night and experienced the history
and other charms of this popular coastal city. Obviously, when driving
up to Georgia, there were few must-see stops - for example St. Augustine
(one of the oldest US cities) or Daytona Beach (with its famous
beaches and International Speedway).
completing her program, LaBelle, August 25, 2015
Marion Gommenne completed her
5-months program and departed on August 25, 2015. She joined in
a tradition for departing students in which they add their hand
print to the wall of the dormitory houses on Palomar Circle. Since
2000, students have been filling these walls with the personal messages
and art. Fortunately not all do, since the house couldn't handle
hand prints from all 450+ students from 67 nations who have passed
through the program.
the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Clewiston, August 20, 2015
The Waste Water Treatment Plant
(WWTP) in Clewiston (30 miles east of LaBelle) had some technical
issues today, when its pumps were not running correctly. Port LaBelle
Utility System (PLUS) Plant Operator Jimmy was called to help with
fixing the issue and he took with him our student Justine, to show
her functionality of another another WWTP. Jimmy fixed the issue
quickly, proving again that PLUS has very qualified staff that can
give important practical lessons to our students.
with Department of Environmental Protection, Fort Myers, August
As part of her project with Port
LaBelle Utility System, Justine accompanied Dr. Capece and PLUS
Director Roger Greer to a meeting with Florida Department of Environmental
Protection in Ft. Myers to discuss modifications to the monitoring
program permit for the PLUS Rapid Infiltration Basins. They met
with David Rhodes and Barabara Skates, professional geologist and
engineer with DEP. Also attending was Danny Nelson of the TetraTech
weekend in New York City, August 13-17, 2015
Our students Florian and Youssef
spent an extended weekend in New York City. It was their first time
there, so a bit of a cultural shock comparing to the calm life in
LaBelle. First-time visitors to NYC usually start in south Manhattan
(Financial District, Wall Street, 9/11 Memorial), walk the Brooklyn
Bridge to get its great Downtown view, wonder around the Times Square
and calm down in the Central Park. Our 2 students basically followed
this itinerary, say that NYC is impressive and they will be back
Exploring the less visited places around Tampa, August 15-16, 2015
A group of our students spent
this weekend out of town, exploring the less traveled places that
Florida has to offer. First, they went to Mount Dora, where a Seafood
festival took place and with full stomachs they tried not too physically
challenging lawn bowling. Their next stop was Tarpon Springs (home
of the historic Sponge Docks), where a Hippie festival took place.
The evening was reserved for historic Ybor City and its Cuban food.
Sunday was mostly a beach day in Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands,
with earlier in the day visit to Tampa downtown and the University
of South Florida.
Citrus horticultural systems field trip, LaBelle, August 13, 2015
As a part of her program with
Intelligentsia, Morgane is comparing citrus horticultural systems
for Greening resiliency (a disease of citrus caused by a bacteria
Candidatus Liberibacter spp.), production yield, irrigation systems
and environmental impacts. Today Morgane went to the field with
Dr. Capece to get acquainted with the currently used irrigation
system in the researched field.
Partners for Colloquium Conversation, FGCU, Fort Myers, August 12,
Dr. John Capece and Intelligentsia's
student Justine represented III and CRCA-Riverwatch during the "Partners
for Colloquium Conversation" in the Florida Gulf Coast University
(FGCU) in Fort Myers. FGCU students need to do a 80-hour service-learning
to graduate, thus FGCU seeks qualified NGO partners. Both Intelligentsia
and CRCA-Riverwatch have a range of qualifying projects and host
form time to time service-learning projects seeking students.
Playing a host to a visiting student, Gainesville, August 9-11,
Intelligentsia students in Gainesville
played host to a 3-day visit by a LaBelle high school student touring
UF to plan his university studies. Rock Abujaoude Jr. was the lucky
fellow to be shown around campus and town by Marion, Manon and Jocelina.
Visiting amusement parks in Orlando, August 8-10, 2015
Orlando, known as the playground
of Florida is a home to a bunch of amusement parks. A couple of
our students visited several of the parks this past weekend, another
group plans to go there the next weekend. Last visit agenda included
Magic Kingdom, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal's Islands
of Adventure. Yes, Orlando can get impressive, so our students like
to go there from time to time (as they say) "to get sparkles
in our eyes and experience the magnificent shows".
Waste Water Treatment Plant Visit, Port LaBelle, August 3, 2015
Several of our students are involved
in the Utility project, so as a part of their assignment, they tour
from time to time the Port LaBelle water treatment plant (WTP),
waste water treatment plant (WWTP), and field/pipelines facilities.
With Dr. Capece serving as an adviser to Port Labelle Utilities
System (PLUS), our participants get insight into the waste water
Spending time in Miami, August 1-2, 2015
After the Sea Level Rise Conference
in West Palm Beach, some students extended their weekend on the
Atlantic coast and went to visit Miami. They enjoyed the night life
in Miami Beach, walked the famous Ocean Drive, explored the Art
Deco district and sunbathed on Key Biscayne beaches before returning
Sea Level Rise Symposium, West Palm Beach, August 1, 2015
The Intelligentsia International
group attended the third Sea Level Rise Symposium at Oxbridge Academy
of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach. The event, sponsored by
the John Marshall Foundation, pointed out various issues caused
by the sea level rise and possible solutions were discussed.
Nader and Theo completed their programs, LaBelle, July 31, 2015
Engineering student Nader and
Political Sciences student Theo completed their programs with us
today and departed back home to France. During the past months in
Florida, Nader was primarily assigned to designing a solar shed
and researching solar energy efficiency issues, while Theo researched
relations between global security and climate change as part of
our preparations for the Climate Change Symposium (that will take
place in Paris later this year). Thank you both for all your help,
have a safe trip home and stay in touch!
Fossils-hunting on the Caloosahatchee River banks, July 26, 2015
The Caloosahatchee River bottom,
which was once a repository for the remains of all the animals that
lived along its banks, has been relocated during the re-engineering
of the River in the 20th century. Some of that bottom was dug up
and dumped along the banks. Our good friend, captain and fossil
hunter Scott Perry knows, where to look for this material, which
still contains the fossilized life forms from several million years
past. Scott says that "turtle, alligator, dugong, mammoth,
paleollama and giant armadillo were found at my Fossil Camp 2015".
Our students, who were invited to take a boat and a kayak ride on
the River to the Camp did not find all these (just some), but the
fossils-hunting made for a great afternoon anyway :)
Visiting the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, July 26, 2015
No real visit to Florida is complete
without spending some time in the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
Since few of our students are a bit crazy about space (no, they
are not potential astronauts, but they are seriously into robotics
and science), they spent this Sunday in the NASA center. Meeting
a real astronaut there will probably not change their career path,
but in their own words, "we were mesmerized by all these cool
machines and our day was wonderful!"
Chilling on the Atlantic Coast, July 25, 2015
A group of curious students went
out of town for the weekend and enjoyed their time on the Florida's
East coast. They visited Fort Lauderdale (known for its beaches
and miles of boating canals), enjoyed a meal in West Palm Beach
(known for its beaches and miles of palm-dotted streets) and had
fun discovering smaller cities such as Boca Raton, Stuart and Port
Exploring the Everglades, July 20, 2015
A ride to Florida Keys goes along
the Everglades, so doing this trip would not be complete without
stopping for exploring this specific ecosystem. With having sufficient
"makeup hours" in their account, the students could take
their Monday off and have fun in the Everglades. This usually equals
to taking an air-boat ride to see manatees and alligators in the
wilderness. To add a commercial flavor, they also visited an alligator
show and bought some souvenirs. Finally they completed the exploration
trip in an animal sanctuary, where the brave ones had an opportunity
to hug a baby gator :)
Visting the Florida Keys, July 18-19, 2015
Our housing in LaBelle was completely
deserted this weekend, because all our students went to explore
the famous Florida Keys. They enjoyed the silky beaches and some
of them tried also snorkeling, during which they saw friendly dolphins,
harmless sharks and many colorful fishes. To add a romantic feel,
they opted for a dinner during a sunset. What a great weekend in
the unique Florida Keys!
Port LaBelle Utility System Advisory Board meeting, LaBelle, July
Intelligentsia student participants
David, Justine, Anne-Laure, and Pauline attended the Citizens Advisory
Board meeting of Port LaBelle Utility System (PLUS). The discussion
focused on PLUS' budget and related financial issues, technical
plans for digging a new monitoring well, trihalomethanes (THM) criteria
for drinking water PLUS produces as well Consumptive Water Use Permit
(CUP) submission to SFWMD. It was a challenging but enriching meeting
for the students to attend.
Justine turning 21 in the USA, July 16, 2015
21 is an important milestone
and one of our French students, Justine, turned this special age
today. Other students invited her for a dinner and had a nice evening
talking about their weekend plans (the group will be heading to
Florida Keys this weekend), dancing and doing a karaoke together.
Although thousands of miles from her home, the group arranged a
great evening for the birthday girl. Happy birthday from all of
Celebrating the Bastille Day, LaBelle, July 14, 2015
Bastille Day is celebrated on
July 14 each year, commemorating the storming of the Bastille in
1789 and uniting the French people in 1790. Our office participants
are primarily from France this summer, so it was a big day for them.
Fortunately there was no storming of our office for being July 14
a regular office day and not an office holiday :) There was just
the group uniting during the lunch break and taking photos with
the Blue, White and Red T-shirts. Happy Bastille Day!
Weekend on the Atlantic Coast, July 11-12, 2015
While most of the students from
our group went for a canoe trip at Fisheating Creek, few others
opted for visiting new places (and mostly beaches) on the Florida's
east - Atlantic ocean - coast. They visited Port Saint Lucie and
went to the Hutchinson Island (unique barrier island parallel to
the mainland coast) to lay down on the Jensen Beach. The relaxing
weekend ended with a concert next to the St Lucie River in Stuart
and a wonderful sunset show.
Final seminar by Marin, LaBelle, July 9, 2015
Looking tan and trim, Marin delivered
his final project seminar on July 9, 2015 in person to the group
in LaBelle and remotely to his project teammates in Gainesville.
It was the largest Intelligentsia group ever - 33 students. Many
thanks to Marin for all his technical work and his very gracious
logistical (transportation) help using the car his company rented
for him the entire duration of his program.
July 4 weekend in Miami, July 3-5, 2015
Students were looking for a good
spot to spend the 4th of July. Some picked the city rated 8th best
for July 4 enjoyment - Miami! They arrived in Miami Friday night.
The group stayed in a youth hostel on Miami's world-famous South
Beach and experienced a beautiful Miami sunset. They walked through
Miami Beach and continued their 4th of July at Ocean Drive, South
Pointe Beach, and the Art Deco District. After all the activity,
the opportunity to simply lay on the beach and watch Miami Beach
fireworks made for a perfect evening. On Sunday they visited downtown
Miami, Little Havana and Midtown famous for its numerous wall paintings.
They stopped by Sunny Isles to have a look at the area and came
back to LaBelle with a wealth of wonderful memories.
Ryan's birthday, LaBelle, July 1, 2015
Ryan is a local kid who comes
to our office and helps with various tasks and learns new things.
This past weekend he turned 14, so he really cannot be called a
kid anymore, since he is now a young man. We are sure that celebrating
his birthday at a surprise office party in the company of our many
female French program participants made an enjoyable day for him
:) Happy birthday from all of us!
Exploring Tampa and around, June 27-28, 2015
Eighteen students from the Intelligentsia
group came from LaBelle, Tampa and Gainesville to meet in Tampa
for a colorful weekend. On Saturday they visited Saint Petersburg
and the Tampa Aquarium - the greatest in Florida. That night they
participated to the Blacklight Run in Tampa with more than 15,000
other young people. The night was capped with a Ybor City (bar district)
experience. On their way back to LaBelle some students stopped by
Sarasota and Venice where they enjoyed a typical 1950's American
LDRC project - a ribbon cutting ceremony, LaBelle, June 23, 2015
The LaBelle Downtown Revitalization
Corporation (LDRC) held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Fort Thompson
Avenue Parklet on June 23, 2015. The LDRC has an interest in improving
the appearance and economic stability of historic Downtown LaBelle
as well as preserve its historic heritage. While LaBelle is not
exactly a big town, there are cool things happening here.
Attending the Big Sugar Summit, West Palm Beach, June 20, 2015
On June 20, 2015, a group of
14 Intelligentsia students attended the Big Sugar Summit in West
Palm Beach, which presented facts regarding the sugar industry's
influence and impact on Florida and its citizens. A wide panel of
speakers took part in the educational event - politicians, academicians
and scientists. Intelligentsia's students could attend thanks to
our ongoing cooperation with the Florida Chapter of Sierra Club.
Exploring close-by beach areas - Sanibel/Captiva, Naples, June 13-14,
In less than an hour drive from
LaBelle are located several very nice beach areas. This weekend
our students decided to explore two of them - on Sat the famous
Sanibel Island and on Sun the city of Naples. The plan was fairly
simple - lay down on a beach to get some suntan and have fun. With
everyone catching a fair amount of sunburn, it is fair to say that
the mission was accomplished :)
Interviewing our participant Nader, June 11, 2015
French newspaper "la Nouvelle
Republique" published an article about Nader Ben Maad, one
of our current French students. Nader was interviewed about his
current tasks at Intelligentsia related to solar energy efficiency
research as well as the climate change project, which aims at various
issues related to climate change. The full interview (in French)
is available here.
Sophie's birthday party, LaBelle, June 6, 2015
Just a few days after arriving
to our program in Florida, Sophie turned 23. Other students organized
a birthday party for her, not forgetting to bake a typical French
cake - a small reminder that our French students are often big enthusiasts
for patisserie :) Happy birthday from all of us!
Sea level rise lecture by Dr. Karl Havens, Gainesville, June 4,
On Thursday, June 4, 2015, the
Intelligentsia students in Gainesville (Jocelina, Marion, Remo,
and Arnaud) attended an informal seminar on Sea Level Rise held
in the First Magnitude Brewing Company production floor (craft beer
brewery). The hosts were the University of Florida Sea Grant team
led by Dr. Karl Havens. Following a presentation by Dr. Havens on
what Floridians should expect from Sea Level Rise, the gathering
continued for an extended question and discussion session between
the experts and audience.
Caloosahatchee shake-down cruise, LaBelle, June 1, 2015
Henry Mox, our office friend
and Florida snowbird, weighed anchor and rode the winds of I-75
back to Michigan, but not before Intelligentsia students helped
Henry prepare his boat and enjoyed a Caloosahatchee shake-down cruise
before his departure.
Extended weekend in New Orleans (Louisiana), May 28 - May 31, 2015
Eight students from our group
organized a trip to New Orleans for an extended weekend. With most
of them being originally from France, it is no wonder that they
stayed mostly around the famous French Quarter, enjoying its food,
jazz music and museums. There was also time for walking on shores
of the mighty Mississippi River. While New Orleans is not exactly
close to Florida, it is still a reasonably timed ride (about 8 hours
from Gainesville), so a trip worth an extended weekend exploring.
Exploring Tampa and surrounding areas during a weekend, May 23 -
May 24, 2015
During the weekend May 23 - May
24, 2015 several of our students located in LaBelle paid a visit
to those of us located in Tampa. With Intelligentsia's having a
housing in both these cities, similar visits are quite common. On
Saturday the group spent most of the day enjoying the beach in Clearwater.
No student's visit to Tampa is complete without spending a bit of
a wild night in the busy historic Ybor City. Sunday morning was
set for relaxing on the Picnic Island Beach and during the afternoon
the students went to see St Petersburg, famous e.g. for the Salvador
Final seminar by Maxime, LaBelle, May 22, 2015
On Friday, May 23, 2015, French
student Maxime delivered his final project seminar. After covering
the technical and organizational aspects of his climate change related
project, Maxime talked about his time and travels in Florida and
the USA. Prior to returning to France, he will spend 2 weeks traveling
the USA with his parents and younger brothers.
Relaxing in Gainesville, May 15 - May 17, 2015
During the weekend May 15 - May
17, 2015 a small reunion of the students located in Tampa and Gainesville
took place in the city of University of Florida. After checking
the student bars in Gainesville downtown on Friday night, during
Saturday the group toured the large and lively UF campus and finished
the day in a typical Mexican restaurant. On Sunday the students
aimed for a relaxed day full of swimming in the beautiful north-central
Attending SFWMD's Governing Board meeting, West Palm Beach, May
On Thursday, May 14, 2015, four
Intelligentsia students (Anne-Laure, Marion, Jerome and Clemence)
traveled with Sierra Club organizer Cris Costello to West Palm Beach
to attend the Governing Board meeting of the South Florida Water
Management District. Having joined the Caloosahatchee River Citizens
Association (Riverwatch) as student members, the French group tried
to help other environmental advocates convince SFWMD to purchase
lands south of Lake Okeechobee needed to protect the Caloosahatchee
Estuary, St. Lucie Estuary, and Florida Everglades. Marion expressed
her thoughts to the board members during the public comment period
and attracted much attention from the Florida residents who were
impressed that an international young person would give a tourist’s
perspective on the need for Florida environmental protection.
Visit to Telecom-Lille campus, May 12, 2015
As a part of his visit to France,
Michal Fidler (director of III) met with Franck Way (internship
coordinator at Telecom Lille) as well as several alumni of our Florida
program from this campus. Soufiane, Mehdi, Aziz and other students
also visited with the elusive Michal during one of his rare personal
appearances. Normally Michal works remotely via the Internet from
his home in the Czech Republic or from whichever country he is visiting
at the time. Michal spends more than half his time traveling the
world on assignments, e.g. to France he came directly from Japan.
Michal's visit to Lille was a reciprocal visit, since Mr. Way visited
III's office in LaBelle earlier this year (see below). Photos from
Franck's trip with his students and III's staff to Fisheating Creek
(on March 10, 2015) were all over Franck's office desk, so clearly
a sign that the trip was unique :)
Visiting Paris and around, early May 2015
Michal Fidler, director of Intelligentsia,
spent several weeks during early May 2015 in Paris and surrounding
areas. Objective of his visit there was to meet with student organization
officers and university administrators to secure space for an III/AEL
symposium that would precede the UN climate change summit (COP21)
in November-December 2015. Michal also tested various transport
options (including the very fast TGV trains), so that getting around
Paris will be less challenging for the U.S. students visiting Paris
(or even Europe) for the first time.
Afternoon BBQ and canoe trip in Fisheating Creek, May 10, 2015
Within a few hours of deciding
to go on an outing, our group went to Fisheating Creek for an afternoon
BBQ and canoe trip on Sunday, May 10. Some of the more daring students
enjoyed the rope swing next to Memorial Cypress engaging in Circ
du Solei acrobatics that surely frightened away all the gators (we
saw several in the creek during the excursion). Upon return to the
camp site John prepared a fire and some chicken, burgers and dogs
while Nargis prepared a garden salad and fruit. The evening wrapped
up with a campfire and marshmallow roast before making the 20-minute
drive back to LaBelle.
Sea Level Rise Conference, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers,
May 8, 2015
On May 8, 2015, the entire LaBelle
group of Intelligentsia students attended the sea level rise conference
at Florida Gulf Coast University. The day-long event included a
long list of prominent speakers on the global and local issues of
climate change and the shrinking Florida beaches and coastal communities.
Intelligentsia students enjoyed a free breakfast and lunch as well
at this no-cost conference. Our group assisted with attendee registration,
Riverwatch exhibit staffing, and Florida Solar Choice petition signature
collection. Our students vastly out-numbed the number of FGCU students
Pool & pizza party, LaBelle, April 21, 2015
As six students prepare for their
final few days in the program, everyone gathered for a pool &
pizza party at the River Run house on April 21, 2015. Soon to depart
are Edouard, Salma, Mehdi, Soufiane, Adrien, and Camille.
Attending SFWMD's Governing Board meeting, West Palm Beach, April
Fabien is a journalism student
and one of the issues he writes about is the purchase of EAA land
needed to protect the Caloosahatchee River and Everglades. After
his trip to Tallahassee (on April 6-7), he went with other activists
from Sierra Club and Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association to
West Palm Beach on Apr 9, where he attended the SFWMD's Governing
Board meeting to get another perspective on the investigated issues.
Everglades Action Day & Jimmy Buffett Concert, Tallahassee,
April 6-7, 2015
On April 6 & 7, 2015, officer
manager Nargiza and CRCA assistant Adrien led the Intelligentsia
group on a trip to Tallahassee to participate in the Everglades
Action Day at the State Capitol. They visited offices of legislators
advocating the purchase of EAA land needed to protect the Caloosahatchee
River and Everglades. The free bus trip and hotel rooms were sponsored
by the Everglades Coaltion and Everglades Foundation. Thanks to
both! As tourists, the students told the politicians that international
visitors like them come to Florida to enjoy its clean water and
natural beauty. Thus, Florida has a clear economic interest in protecting
its environment. A bonus of the trip was a brief concert by famed
Florida singer Jimmy Buffett, noted for his support of green issues.
Easter potluck dinner & Drum circle in Centennial Park, Fort
Myers, April 5, 2015
After a Easter potluck dinner
at the home of friends on Sunday, April 5, 2015, the Intelligentsia
group went to Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers. Following
a downtown stroll, Soufiane from Morocco joined in a drum circle
and entertained the crowd.
Final seminar by Thomas, LaBelle, April 3, 2015
On Friday, April 3, 2015, French
student Thomas completed his program and delivered his final seminar,
albeit with something of a headache that he blames on his Italian
roommates and his going-away party held the night before. The next
morning, prior to his departure for a final Miami adventure, Thomas,
Nargis, John, and others got together for breakfast at LaBelle's
Big-V Restaurant, a place noted for its good food, photo of George
Wallace (look him up...ughh!) and painting of John Wayne. It's was
a true Southern "cultural" experience. The county sheriff
even stopped by the table to chat and wish Thomas good luck.
Gene Gibson - guest speaker to our group, LaBelle, March 31, 2015
On Tuesday, March 31, 2015, Gene
Gibson delivered a presentation to the Intelligentsia group about
his environmental and development career, which began as an attorney
in Sarasota then moved on to legal and advocacy work for NRDC (Natural
Resources Defense Council) and finally to consulting and a State
Department officer in USAID (US Agency for International Development).
Gene and his wife Nan are also members of the CRCA-Riverwatch organization
that Intelligentsia students help manage.
Hosting a rest stop for a Florida coast-to-coast bike ride, LaBelle
Downtown Revitalization Program, March 28, 2015
Intelligentsia students, Medhi,
Edouard, Salma and Camille, helped the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization
program host a rest stop for a Florida coast-to-coast bike ride
event to raise money for food charities. Part of the event was to
paint the first of what will hopefully be a series of murals on
Bridge Street (near the Caloosahatchee River) in downtown LaBelle.
Another Intelligentsia International housing in LaBelle goes solar, March 22-24, 2015
Another solar system installation
at the River Run house, where our program participants sometimes
reside, was completed! Intelligentsia International got a special
deal in FPL rebates & special hardware discounts to make possible
solar energy on another our housing in LaBelle.
BBQ and canoeing at Fisheating Creek, March 10, 2015
On March 10, 2015, after completing
office meetings in the morning, the group traveled to Fisheating
Creek to show Franck Way of Lille-Telecom the types of recreational
activities students enjoy during their program. We had a nice chicken
sandwiches BBQ and picnic between canoe excursions on the creek.
Plenty of gators showed themselves and posed for photos.
Visitor from Telecom-Lille campus, LaBelle, March 9-11, 2015
On March 9-11, 2015, Mr. Franck
Way of the Telecom-Lille campus visited the III offices to check
on his group of 5 students completing their program in Florida.
Mr. Way observed the student progress report presentations and then
provided a lecture on marketing designed for an engineering audience.
Afterward he conducted a series of one-on-one meetings with the
students and with Dr. Capece to perform a program assessment.
Organizing petitions signing on a Solar Choice constitutional amendment,
LaBelle, February 21-22, 2015
On Feb 21-22, 2015, our group
(mainly Salma and Soufiane) collected 200 signatures on a petition
to get a Solar Choice constitutional amendment on the ballot of
the next Florida statewide election in 2016. To get the item on
the ballot requires 700,000 signatures from registered Florida voters.
We accomplished 0.03% of the goal, but together our group and many
others have already assembled more than 100,000 signatures. The
petition drive experience gave the students a chance to practice
their English and meet many typical Americans as they visited the
many exhibits of the Swamp Cabbage Festival in LaBelle.
Rodeo during the Swamp Cabbage Festival, LaBelle, February 20, 2015
After a day at the Swamp Cabbage
Festival, John and Nargis took the group to the LaBelle Rodeo where
cowboy teams (including cowgirls) competed to see which local ranch
could claim the annual bragging rights to having the best wranglers.
Even the kids got into the act with the "Calf Stampede"
where a crowd of 60 fearless children chased down two calves to
capture a ribbon off their tails to win a prize, while trying not
to get kicked or trampled by the fleeing calves.
"Rally in Tally", Tallahassee, February 18, 2015
On February 18, 2015, Nargis
and Adrien led the group on a bus journey that began at 4:30 am
to Florida's capital city, Tallahassee for a rally in support of
clean water and Amendment 1 (environmental land purchases). The
students observed the U.S. political process and had the opportunity
to visit legislators, seeing and hearing how American express their
concerns and priorities to their elected representatives. Everyone
arrived back in LaBelle at 3am the next day. It was a very long
Canoeing on Orange River, Lee County Manatee Park, Fort Myers, February
Sunday, Feb 15, 2015 was a wonderful
day at Manatee Park. There were hundreds of manatee to be seen up
close while paddling in the canoes on the Orange River, a tributary
to the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary. The more friendly of the
manatee swam around the canoes and poked their heads up to look
at the people and hope for a hand-out of fresh lettuce or grass.
But the rule is that you are not to touch, pet or feed the manatee
It is not illegal to let a curious manatee smell your hand, but
understand the manatee is probably looking for food, so it might
be a little risky. Absolutely do not feed them...grass or your fingers.
Often if you reach out and touch them they get frightened and flip
their large tails to swim away. And the tail of such a large animal
(the size of a cow) can easily toss a canoe and its people into
the air tipping them into the water. The manatee are curious but
harmless to people.
Attending AWRA conference and weekend on a beach, Fort Myers, Bonita
Beach & Naples, February 6-8, 2015
Thomas Noeuveglise and Adrien
Lombard attended the Southwest Florida Water Resources Conference
held at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers on Feb 6, 2015.
The topic was runoff management, all the water that flows after
a storm from our farms, streets and yards into the rivers, lakes
and other water bodies carrying with it pollution from human activities.
Managing and cleaning this water is a major environmental challenge
for Florida and all other parts of the world with sufficient rainfall.
Dr. Capece has helped organize this annual conference for the past
19 years. After the conference, the students spent rest of the weekend
in Bonita Beach and Naples, enjoying its beautiful beaches.
Final seminar by Leopoldine, LaBelle, January 31, 2015
Leopoldine Matthieu delivered
her final project seminar to the Intelligentsia group. Most of the
other students in attendance were recruited through the efforts
of Leopoldine in organizing our new climate change related project.
Leopoldine developed it with Dr. Capece, Nargiza Abduvohidova and
Michal Fidler as a follow-up to her work with the Democratic Environmental
Caucus of Florida. Before her seminar the group enjoyed a pizza
lunch and afterward it was cake and coffee. We will surely miss
Leopoldine in LaBelle.
Attending the Citizens Climate Lobby meeting, Coconut Grove, January
On Saturday, January 10, 2015,
the Intelligentsia group drove to Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood
for a meeting of Citizens Climate Lobby held at the offices of YGrene,
a company with a unique business model in which energy improvements
to a home are financed through property tax assessment over 15 to
30 years. The meeting included a conference call joined by over
100 chapters of CCL across the USA and Canada. Addressing the group
was David Hone, Climate Change Advisor for Shell Oil Company stating
his company's preference for "cap & trade" over CCL's
advocacy for a carbon tax...if any carbon cost program is adopted
by the USA.
Attending a concert by the Naples Philharmonic, January 9, 2015
The group made a one-hour trek
to Artis Naples to attend a concert by the Naples Philharmonic.
Student tickets were only $15 each for a wonderful performance in
a quality-sound venue. The conductor was Andrey Boreyko with guest
violinist Gidon Kremer and cellist Giedre Dirvanauskaite. The performance
included Rózsa - Theme and Variations for Violin and Cello,
Weinberg - Violin Concerto, and Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade.
Holiday Gatherings, November & December 2014
Maxime joined in for a family
Christmas dinner and holiday celebration. A month earlier on Nov
26 Leopoldine cooked her first turkey with Nargiza for a delicious
Vacation Travel, December 2014
Leopoldine used her Christmas
and New Year's holidays to visit other parts of the USA, including
New York City, Washington DC, and New Orleans where she visited
friends from France. Together with Maxime as well as Pierre &
Nicolas from University of Florida in Gainesville, they rented a
car for the road trip to New Orleans.
"Re-thinking Sustainability" visitor to Intelligentsia,
December 8-10, 2014
Stephen Szucs, aka Sustainable
Joe, spent a couple days with Intelligentsia on the final leg of
his 6-month Canada to Key West "Re-thinking Sustainability"
trek with his ELF bike/car named "Rita." On Dec 9 we introduced
Stephen to Fisheating Creek where we camped the night following
his 90-mile Venice to Palmdale transit. On Dec 10 Stephen pedaled
& drove Rita to LaBelle where he stayed the night at the student
dorm before continuing on to Boyton Beach on Dec 11...that's another
100+ miles in a day. Stephen's web site is www.SustainableJoes.com.
LaBelle Nature Park cleanup, November 15, 2014
On Saturday, November 15, Intelligentsia
participant Leopoldine Mathieu, office manager Nargiza Abduvohidova,
and supervisor John Capece helped clean up the local LaBelle Nature
Park as a Riverwatch community service project. Joining them were
students from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers.
Each FGCU student is required to help on some community projects
as part of their degree program.
Showing Florida to a visiting friend, November 8-12, 2014
Gautier was a visiting friend
of Leopoldine, a French student in Intelligentsia. Since he was
here only a short time, Leopoldine wanted to show him Florida, so
we took the group on a whirlwind tour. On Saturday we departed LaBelle
at 7am and were in NASA Visitors Center by 11am. After a great time
at NASA we departed at 630pm and arrived back in LaBelle at 10pm.
Sunday was rainy so we stayed in LaBelle. Monday morning at 7am
we departed for the Florida Keys, checked into a wonderful 3-bedroom
condo in Lime Tree Bay Resort on Long Key then continued to Key
West and were there by 1pm. We walked the streets and took in the
sites until 730pm then returned to the condo at 930pm. We had a
nice group dinner that evening. The next morning included snorkeling
practice in the ocean and swimming pool before breakfast and then
hotel check out at 11am. By 1215pm we arrived at John Pennekamp
State Park on Key Largo for a coral reef snorkeling trip at 120pm
to 4pm. After a rush-hour traffic-filled drive to Miami, by 630pm
we were on South Beach enjoying the lights of all the art-deco hotels.
Walking and dining there in beautiful weather was a nice end to
the busy day. By 830pm we were back on the road to LaBelle where
we arrived home at 1030pm. Then next day at 11am we drove to Fisheating
Creek for a quick canoe trip - one of the best ever at that wild
place. We passed very near to at least 25 alligators on the paddling
journey and saw many large birds and turtles too. By 2pm we were
back in LaBelle where Gautier packed and then departed for the airport.
He reached the Ft. Myers airport at 330pm and was on his plane headed
back to France at 515pm. It was an action-packed few days.
Hosting our former participant Monyo once again, LaBelle
Monyo, originally from Bulgaria,
attended our program back in 2008, when he focused on field equipment
maintenance and researching various engineering technologies (e.g.
telemetry system improvements). He is now married to another of
our former participant, Chloe, and they now live near Gainesville.
We stay in touch; Chloe and Monyo are occasional hosts to our current
students, when they want to visit the beautiful Northcentral Florida
springs. Monyo is currently finishing his IT Master's Degree in
Miami. It's a long drive from Gainesville to Miami, thus Monyo stays
in our LaBelle housing a couple nights a week, so he can wrap up
his degree more quickly. It is good to maintain relationships with
our former participants.
Exploring Tampa and Orlando, October 25-26, 2014
This weekend was organized an
exploration trip to Tampa, Clearwater Beach and Orlando, which was
also a nice little reunion trip - joining were our current program
participant Leopoldine, our former program participant Erica (see
here) and 2 Leopoldine's French university fellows (who are
currently doing their practical program in Gainesville). For reunions,
the he world is a small place :)
Beach Pirate Festival, Fort Myers Beach, October 11, 2014
The 9th Annual Fort Myers Beach
Pirate Festival was an event that spiced up the already lively beach
town, only 45 minutes from LaBelle. A crowd with costumed pirates
stopping here and there for a bit o’ grog, live entertainment
and games, Pirate Parade and more made for a fun and relaxing afternoon.
Autodesk CFD model of hurricane wind loads by Ian, October 3, 2014
Ian Chou, a Dartmouth University
Aerospace Engineering graduate from Taiwan, completed his Intelligentsia
project on October 3. He developed a Autodesk CFD (computational
fluid dynamics) model of hurricane wind loads on roof-mounted solar
panels. The objective was to determine if the mounting brackets
would sustain the forces resulting from different panel orientations
relative to the roof crest.
Universal Studios, Orlando, Sep 27-28, 2014
Universal Studios in Orlando
is one of the favorite "must-see" places for our program
participants. They spent both Saturday and Sunday there this past
weekend, enjoying its rides, shows, shops, etc.
Professionals-Student Mixer at Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort
Myers, September 11, 2014
Dr. Capece and Nargiza Abduvohidova
attended a Professionals-Student Mixer at Florida Gulf Coast University
to discuss practical experience and service learning opportunities
with local water and engineering students. The event was part of
the lead-up activities to the annual Southwest Florida Water Resources
Conference that Dr. Capece has helped organized in each of the past
18 year. This year's event will be held in February 2015. Typically
Intelligentsia' international students help organize the event.
Last year's event is shown at
Signing up DECF members at FGCU tables, Fort Myers, September 9,
This week Intelligentsia participants
set up tables and exhibits at the Florida Gulf Coast University
(FGCU) campus in Ft. Myers and distributed informative materials
to the students there. Intelligentsia participants who sign up for
events and campaigns organizing are allowed to focus on issues and
organizations of interest to them. Newly arrived French student,
Leopoldine, and summer student from Univerisity of California-Berkeley,
Erica, selected to work with the Southwest Chapter of the Democratic
Environmental Caucus of Florida (DEFC) - an advocacy organization
seeking to change attitudes of Democratic candidates to better address
environmental issues and seek meaningful progress on global challenges.
Putting political party affiliation aside, there is enough space
for seeking constructive alternatives, as the environment is a topic
where really almost all are on the same page. The DECF table also
included a petition for Republican leaning students to encourage
their party to also create an environmental caucus.
Trip to Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, August 29, 2014
4 Intelligentsia students (American,
Taiwanese, Brazilian, French) went with Dr. Capece to Kennedy Space
Center and toured the Visitor Complex, NASA's launch pads, Astronaut
Hall of Fame and all the other unique attractions this place offers.
No visit to Florida is truly complete without setting your foot
on this ground.
Touring the water treatment plants of LaBelle and Port LaBelle,
August 19, 2014
Intelligentsia water students
(Erica from California, Antoine from France and Eduardo from Brazil)
toured the water treatment plants of LaBelle and Port LaBelle, guided
by Dr. Capece and Port LaBelle Utility System Director Roger Greer.
Exploring springs in central Florida, August 17, 2014
Intelligentsia students in Gainesville,
Thayllan and Gabriel, along with supervisor, Nargis, spent a weekend
day at the beautiful springs of central Florida. Their guides were
Chloe (French) and Monyo (Bulgarian) both former Intelligentsia
students. Now married, they live and work near Gainesville. Chloe
received her Master's Degree at USF working with Intelligentsia
on Caloosahatchee oxbows research and Monyo completed his B.S. in
electrical engineering and is now working on his Master's.
Final seminars by 4 participants, LaBelle, August 15, 2014
On Friday, August 15, 2014, four
students delivered project seminars. Amanda from Federal University
of Para (Brazil) and University of Montana described her web page
content and newsletter creation for Riverwatch. Bianca from University
of Pernambuco (Brazil) and State University of NY/Fredonia talked
about her repairs to Intelligentsia software systems. Yannick from
Grenoble Institute of Technology (France) updated the group on his
documentation of the Hall St dorm solar power system design and
installation. Natalia from State University of Maringa (Brazil)
and State University of NY/Stony Brook presented her results on
Life Cycle Assessment.
Community forum hosted by SFWMD, Fort Myers, August 8, 2014
Dr. Capece and four Intelligentsia
students (Amanda, Erica, Eduardo and Antoine - those focused on
water related projects) participated in a community forum hosted
by the South Florida Water Management District. A total of 70 people
attended, composed of leaders from government, business, and industry
as well as environmental advocacy groups plus a few members of the
general public. The purpose of the meeting was to prioritize a list
of more than 60 projects, with budgets totaling almost 2 billion
dollars, designed to address Caloosahatchee River flow and water
Final seminars by 4 participants, LaBelle, August 1, 2014
Four students gave their final
project seminars: Benoit from France on his antenna-based WiFi system,
Camila from Brazil on energy audits and equipment improvements,
Marcio on AC and air flow controllers, and Marcella on sugarcane
farming systems. All but Camila were in LaBelle. but those in Tampa
and Gainesville participated via Skype. A good job done by all!
Trip to NASA, Cape Canaveral, July 31, 2014
Intelligentsia students (4 Brazilian
and 1 French) traveled to Kennedy Space Center on July 31. They
toured the Visitor's Complex where they also met the first Brazilian
astronaut, Lt. Col. Marcos C. Pontes of the Brazil Air Force and
Brazilian Space Agency. He rocketed to the International Space Station
(ISS) in 2006 on a Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan. Currently,
Pontes works at NASA on the development and fabrication of the Brazilian
parts for the ISS. He is on stand-by for training for future Brazilian
space flights. While the students hoped to see an Atlas V rocket
blast off from Kennedy, the lift off was delayed. But meeting Pontes
was a unique experience for the mostly Brazilian group from Intelligentsia.
Pool party, Port LaBelle, July 27, 2014
Dr. Capece and Nargiza hosted
the students for an all-day pool party on Sunday (July 27, 2014),
at Port LaBelle Marina and River Run Villas. Eduardo, as always,
caught a fish dinner in the Caloosahatchee River.
Exploring Fisheating Creek, July 26, 2014
On Saturday (July 26, 2014),
Dr. Capece took the students to Fisheating Creek, only 15 miles
from LaBelle, but a distant journey back into old Florida, with
gators at every turn, cypress swamps to be explored by canoe, and
Sea Level Rise Symposium - beach break, West Palm Beach, July 25,
The group took a beach break
after the Sea Level Rise Symposium. After a driving tour of the
mansions on Palm Beach, everyone walked the beach. The French students
came prepared with swim trunks, so went for a swim.
Sea Level Rise Symposium, West Palm Beach, July 25, 2014
The Intelligentsia International
group attended the Sea Level Rise Symposium at Oxbridge Academy
of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach. The event, sponsored by
the John Marshall Foundation, focused on how communities of Southeast
Florida from Palm Beach to Miami are preparing for sea level rise.
No longer are such conference discussing how to prevent climate
change. Most now seem to have accepted that coastlines will be lost
and communities must adapt and move.
AC control system project by Marcio , LaBelle, July 17, 2014
Marcio from Minnesota State University
and Federal University of Bahia in Brazil has developed as his technical
project an air conditioner control system using sensors and a microprocessor
board. The controller is designed to improve power consumption efficiency
and dorm room comfort by closing air conditioning flow to a bedroom
when the occupant opens their window. The controller also shuts
down the entire AC system when both the room's window and door are
Final seminar by Tiago, LaBelle, July 16, 2014
On July 16, 2014, Tiago from
University of Kentucky and University of Sao Paulo in Brazil completed
his project and delivered his final seminar. Tiago developed software
for the web site of Alpha Epsilon Lambda. He restructured one web
page for student chapters to order certificates and created a new
web page for individual students to order graduation honor society
Canoes and trailer cleaning, LaBelle, July 12, 2014
Eduardo, Tiago, and Marcio helped
Dr. Capece prepare for a student's recreational canoe trip by cleaning
the trailer and its canoes as service hours. Every year the canoes
need cleaning, every few years the trailer requires repairs and
Utility infrastructure mapping project, LaBelle, July 10, 2014
After weeks of working out the
technical methods and procedures for using GPS instrumentation,
ArcView to KMZ file Google Earth conversions, Offset methods, and
other challenges, on July 10, 2014 Nelma led the student team into
their first day of field data collection as part of utility infrastructure
Wifi project by Benoit, LaBelle, July 10, 2014
Benoit, programmer from ESIGELEC
University in Rouen (France), is setting up an extended WiFi network
between Intelligentsia locations. He designed the system, selected
the components, purchased the equipment, then installed and configured
the devices. He's now testing the properties and performance of
the system and working on improvements, including signal boosters
for increased upload/download speed. Well done!
June Fest party, LaBelle, June 28, 2014
Our mostly Brazilian students
organized a party called "June Fest". It is very traditional
in Brazil to celebrate the saint's of June, such as Saint Anthony
and Saint John. The students cooked traditional food, danced traditional
music, wore traditional costumes & make up and also cheered
for the Brazilian soccer team.
Wayne Daltry - guest speaker to our group, LaBelle, June 27, 2014
Wayne Daltry, a former SW Florida
Regional Planner and former CRCA-Riverwatch president, was our next
guest speaker and he talked to our group about the history of development
of SW Florida based on population, industry, transportation &
government policy. He went on to discuss the various ways to think
about and measures of sustainability and the serious and severe
challenges facing the current generation of university students
as they move on to their careers and lives. Also attending was Marti
Daltry, Wayne's wife and also a former two-term Riverwatch president.
Ron Zimmerly - guest speaker to our group, LaBelle, June 23, 2014
Ron Zimmerly talked today to
the group about his more than 10 years of experience in Brazil,
it's recent past and future prospects. Ron is Finance Director of
the City of LaBelle, a leader of the Hendry County Republican Party,
Riverwatch Director, and Port LaBelle Utility Advisory Board Member.
John Cassani - guest speaker to our group, LaBelle, June 20, 2014
Today's speaker to our group was
John Cassani, a biologist with Lee County, where he is responsible
for various natural resources issues (exotic plant control in waterways,
ecological health of lakes and rivers, etc.). John is well known
in Florida, since the major newspapers publish his opinions almost
every month. He talked to our group about the role of a scientist
in a government agency...the skills sets needed and the challenges,
limitations & opportunities to be faced.
Port LaBelle Utility System Advisory Board meeting, LaBelle, June
Intelligentsia student participants
Bruna, Eduardo, Mateus Nelma, and Carla attended the citizens advisory
board meeting of Port LaBelle Utility System (PLUS). The discussion
focused on approval of the utility's budget and measures to remedy
the utility's severe pipe leakage problems.
Planning the USA Transcontinental AMTRAK Train Vacation, LaBelle,
June 16, 2014
During a presentation about Intelligentsia's
Rotary Rail & Water Tour program, Dr. Capece described how student
participants can also take a recreational AMTRAK train vacation
across the entire USA. The travel poster above was created by two
former Intelligentsia's students from Germany and describes their
17-day trip. Any of our participants interested in taking such a
trip can get our assistance in starting the planning process for
a once in a lifetime experience.
Seminar by our program participant Marla, LaBelle, June 13, 2014
Marla, an agronomy student from
University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Missouri State University (USA),
delivered to our group of 18 students a presentation about the topic
she investigates while in our program - trade-offs between biofuels
energy production, land use and water use in Florida.
Ross Wherry - guests speaker to our group, LaBelle, June 13, 2014
Special guest, Mr. Ross Wherry,
spoke to the group on June 13 about his experience as a Foreign
Service Officer in the U.S. State Department Agency for International
Development from 1981 to 2006. Among his postings were Iraq as head
of AID programs, Afghanistan as a team officer, and Washington,
DC as Deputy Director for South American Affairs. His experiences
and advice carried a truly global perspective.
inspections score: 2-1; Brazil - Croatia score: 3-1; June 12, 2014
Once a week is performed a housing
inspection in the dorms, where our program participants live. Today's
score was 2 houses pass - 1 not pass. The score our current 18 Brazilian
participants were much more interested at was different though -
they all took the afternoon off, so they could watch the opening
game of the World Cup. Neymar & Co. did somehow better on the
score, although the penalty kick was definitely VERY controversial
by our program participant Ricardo, LaBelle, June 9, 2014
Ricardo, a petroleum engineering
student from Universidade Federal Fluminense (Brazil) and The University
of Montana (USA), delivered to our group of 18 students a presentation
about Mendeley - a free referencing management software, capable
of finding relevant papers, generating bibliographies automatically
and other important functions needed in the academic and professional
Ray Judah - guests speaker to our group, LaBelle, June 9, 2014
Ray Judah was the first guest
speaker of the 2014 Summer Program. Mr. Judah is a former Lee County
Commissioner (1988-2012) and before that an employee of the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection. Mr. Judah talked mostly
about two topics - (1) politics, votes and money...how their interaction
affects domestic development, governance and the environment &
(2) what the future holds for society collectively/globally and
what young people need to be doing to shape their careers/lives
for meaningful participation, employment, and quality of life.
to Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, June 7, 2014
Those of our program participants
located in Gainesville had a rather long list of planned weekend
activities, but decided for the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Citing one of them - "it was a great time and we could learn
more about the natural history, sea species, fossils, butterflies,
flowers present in Florida, and pre-historic animals."
CRCA/Riverwatch meeting and presentation, Fort Myers, June 4, 2014
Amanda, Carla, Nelma and Marcella attended the Caloosahatchee River
Citizens Association (Riverwatch) meeting on June 4 and heard Florida
State Representative Matt Caldwell discuss Southwest Florida water
issues and what can be done locally to remedy the state and federal
Extended weekend in Miami, May 30 - June 1, 2014
During the summer months, our
program participants are excepted to spend in the office only 35
hours/week, so if they go with the 9AM - 6PM schedule during Mon-Thu,
they can leave for a weekend drip on Fri just after the lunch. Exactly
this happened this weekend, when the crowd went to Miami on Fri
early afternoon in order to celebrate Cedrine's birthday and also
drop her off in the airport.
on the Caloosahatchee River, LaBelle, May 28, 2014
When our good friend Scott "Commodore"
Perry stopped by in the office and invited us for an evening sail
on the Caloosahatchee River, he was surely not expecting that our
current group of mostly Brazilian students will "take charge"
of his boat - at first they occupied almost every inch of the deck
and then they even dared to put up their national flag :-)
pool party, LaBelle, May 26, 2014
A group of our students decided
to spend a leisure afternoon during the Memorial Day around the
swimming pool adjacent to one of our residences. Most of the summer
students come originally from Brazil, spending a year in the USA
under the Science Without Borders Program. We are not sure why so
many signed up for the summer program with us in Florida, but are
guessing that it is probably the result of the severe winter conditions
they experienced in Montana, Minnesota and other northern campuses
Skydiving in Orlando, May 25, 2014
One of the main US cities for
entertainment is Orlando. Our students took the "standard"
attractions time in Orlando (with many amusement parks) one step
further and went for something new - skydiving. The feedback we
hear from them is simple - IT WAS AWESOME!!!
A trip to northern Florida, May 22-25, 2014
Few of our students, who already
know well the south and southwest Florida, decided to take an extended
weekend and explore the Sunshine State further north. On their itinerary
were mostly Orlando, Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Daytona Beach
and given the number of pictures they took while on the road, they
surely had a great time.
the Water treatment plant and the Waste water treatment plant, LaBelle,
May 6-8, 2014
Several of our students are involved
in the Utility project, so as a part of their assignment they tour
from time to time the Port LaBelle water treatment plant (WTP),
waste water treatment plant (WWTP), and field/pipelines facilities.
With Dr. Capece serving as an adviser to Port Labelle Utilities
System (PLUS), our participants get insight into the water utility
Wildlife survey in SW Florida, May 8, 2014
Biologist David Ceilley allowed
our program participants experience some fieldwork, when joining
him on his research project - a wildlife survey in SW Florida. We
were studying birds and other wildlife on different sites to see
if populations changes after controlled forest burning and if it
is managed properly.
Week celebration, LaBelle, Apr 28 - May 1, 2014
Almost 1000 Grade 2-4 students
from Hendry & Glades Counties participated in the Earth Week
celebration this year. The children visited five educational stations
around the Captain Hendry House in LaBelle where they learned about
environmental topics and enjoyed a walk through the LaBelle Nature
Park. Intelligentsia's program participants Paul, Cedrine and Maria
delivered 36 separate presentations during the 4-days event. Their
topic this year was climate change & solar energy.
on the Caloosahatchee River, April 28, 2014
After the first day of us volunteering
in the Earth Week events (EW), our students were invited on a boat
trip from Henry Mox, who has been volunteering during the EW as
well. A few days before, Henry pulled up his boat at the LaBelle
dock and he needed some little help with his sailboat, while getting
it ready for for his sailing to Europe. After some preparations
he gave his new "crew" some sailing lessons - our students
controlled the sails and steered the boat during the leisure afternoon
on the Caloosahatchee River.
the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, April 5, 2014
Only 45 minutes drive from LaBelle
is located the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, a very interesting
nature site with a 1.2-mile elevated boardwalk, 5 observation decks
for wildlife viewing and seating enclaves throughout the trail for
quiet reflection. We spent this Saturday in this oasis, where visitors
like us can observe up-close a vast array of plants and animals
that can live in this place, which is sometimes land, sometimes
water and sometimes both.
on Caloosahatchee's historical paddle-wheel steamboats, LaBelle,
April 3, 2014
David Glick, who retired from
the Henry Ford Museum at Dearborn, MI, was a guest speaker during
the monthly LaBelle Heritage Museum meeting. Glick related his experiences
with the restoration and preservation of some of the Caloosahatchee's
River famous paddle-wheel steamboats, that plied the river during
the early days of the 20th century and were no strangers to LaBelle's
waterfront that Henry Ford either had replicated or restored for
his Museum. An interesting excursion to some local and Florida's
history for our program participants.
by our program participants, LaBelle, March 31, 2014
Romain from France and Maria from
Norway delivered presentations to other team members describing
their program activities. It was an informal lunch-hour event with
pizza and drinks held outdoors at the Port LaBelle Villas pool &
marina. For Romain it was a final seminar on the day of his departure,
while for Maria it was a progress seminar. Both presentations focused
on their CRCA/Riverwatch volunteer activities.
and picnicking at FishEating Creek, March 30, 2014
Fisheating Creek is a perfect
place to get up-close to "wild" Florida. Only 20 minutes
drive from LaBelle, we like to go there from time to time. While
we first planned for an overnight camping, the weather promised
a rainy Saturday night, so we spent there only Sunday. But it was
a full day stay, so we had plenty of time for kayaking, picnicking
and exploring the flora and fauna of the beautiful Creek.
weekend during the Spring Break, Miami Beach, March 21-23, 2014
Every year the best Spring Break
destinations are announced and every year Miami Beach figures at
one of the very top positions. Our group of students decided to
check what is so special about that time of the year there, took
an extended weekend and citing one of them after coming back - "we
took everything that we could to enjoy Miami, still in moderate
ways, and plainly said - experiences were very interesting ^_^"
Sounds like Spring Break time was well spent :-)
LaBelle Nature Park with Gene McAvoy, LaBelle, February 24, 2014
Gene McAvoy, Vegetable Extension
Agent IV at University of Florida, led a group of representatives
from Rotary Club of LaBelle, UF/IFAS Extension office, CRCA-Riverwatch
and Intelligentsia International during a 2-hour tour in the LaBelle
Nature Park. The purpose of the tour was to identify, mark and take
GPS coordinates of native and some invasive plants found in the
park in order to facilitate placing new plant ID’s in the
Swamp Cabbage Festival and staffing CRCA booth, LaBelle, February
The largest fair and festival
in Hendry County, the Annual Swamp Cabbage Festival, celebrates
Florida's State tree. Almost 20,000 people visited the city of LaBelle
this past weekend. Intelligentsia's program participants helped
with staffing the Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (CRCA)
booth and also found time to enjoy the music, food, crafts, and
amusement rides at the Barron Park along the Caloosahatchee River.
birthday, February 21, 2014
Mehdi, who came to our program
from French engineering school Telecom Lille, has his birthday today.
A cake delivered by the others took him by a surprise and a small
party in the house eventually came up. We love his quote "22
years? Man, I'm getting old!" :) Happy birthday from all of
in Tally", Tallahassee, February 18, 2014
People across Florida are demanding
lawmakers make a promise to clean up the pollution in Florida's
waterways. To make the voice being heard loudly, buses filled with
protesters boarded all over the state and took their message to
Florida's capital - Tallahassee, during the "Rally in Tally".
Carrying signs and calling for solutions were also our students,
urging lawmakers to sign the Floridians' Clear Water Declaration
and clean up the pollution. After the rally, the group met with
congressional hopeful Lizbeth Benacquisto, who already signed the
Declaration. Our students appeared few times even on television,
so it was a long day, but the cause is definitely worth the effort.
the Everglades, February 15, 2014
Copying an email, sent by one
the current program participants (Maria from Norway), will say it
all about this past weekend exploration trip: "We rented a
car for the weekend and started our drive to Everglades on Saturday
morning. We started the day with an airboat ride at Everglades Safari
Park, where we got to see alligators in the wetlands. This was followed
by an alligator show and holding a baby alligator by people who
were interested. Our next stop was Shark Valley Visitor Center,
where we spent a couple of hours walking around in the park and
experienced amazing nature and wildlife."
presentation and attending a symposium, Gainesville, February 11 - 12, 2014
Intelligentsia's president, Dr.
John Capece, presented results of our research on trade-offs between
biofuels energy production, land use & water use in Florida
during the 4th UF Water Institute Symposium focused on Complex Challenges
and Integrated Solutions for Water Supply Planning in a Non-Stationary
World. This symposium brought together individuals from a variety
of institutional affiliations, disciplines and perspectives to explore
the science, technology, practices and policies needed for a secure
extended weekend in Miami, February 7 - 9, 2014
Earning sufficient number of "make-up
hours" in our program guarantees time off. Our participants
took this advantage, had a half-a-day off on Friday, February 7
and headed directly to Miami for an extended weekend. They stayed
in a hostel right next to the Ocean Drive, so they could enjoy the
Miami nightlife as well as the white sands beaches and warm waters
of the Atlantic ocean in Miami South Beach.
and presentation, LaBelle, February 5, 2014
Speakers at the regular monthly
Riverwatch/CRCA meeting were Dr. Abdul Ahmadi, Water Facilities
Administrator, and Jennifer Carpenter, Program Administrator for
the South District of Florida Dept of Environmental Protection.
Attending the event made for an interesting and educational evening.
weekend in Bonita Springs, January 31 – February 2, 2014
After attending the 23rd Annual
Southwest Florida Water Resources Conference on Friday (Jan 31)
in Fort Myers, a group of Intelligentsia's students stayed at the
Vester Marine Field Station in Bonita Beach and spent the weekend
in Bonita Springs. Friday night ended with a basketball game at
Florida Gulf Coast University, followed on Saturday morning by an
organized canoe trip for students attending the Conference. During
Sunday there was plenty of opportunities to enjoy some beach time
at the beautiful Bonita Beach with warm weather and pleasant water
Annual Southwest Florida Water Resources Conference, Fort Myers,
January 31, 2014
Intelligentsia International was
one of the main organizers of the 2013/14 Southwest Florida Water
Resources Conference. Issues related to climate changes and its
effects on ecosystem services, infrastructure, food & water
production and areas of habitation were discussed. We have a host
of new challenges to meet in coming years.
International student housing in LaBelle goes solar, LaBelle, Jan 27, 2014
The solar system installation
at the Hall street house, where several of our program participants
reside, was completed! CRCA member & FAFCO Solar Energy owner
Dan Morrissey provided a special deal worth over $22,000 in FPL
rebates & special hardware discounts to make possible solar
energy on the III's student dorm in LaBelle.
III during service learning project day for FGCU students, Fort
Myers, Jan 24, 2014
Florida Gulf Coast university
(FGCU) students complete service learning hours as part of their
bachelor's degree. Intelligentsia International as well as its partner
CRCA/Riverwatch offered these students several opportunities, such
as creating a system of LaBelle Nature Park plant ID markers with
QR codes, cleaning up Billy’s Creek in Ft. Myers, helping
with holding an exhibit during the traditional Swamp Cabbage Festival
in LaBelle, etc. During such activities, FGCU and III students engage
together in service activities for the local community.
purlins on the south face of Hall street house roof, LaBelle, December
In order to move ahead with the
solar system installation at the Hall street house, purlins were
placed on the complete south side of the Hall street house roof.
As a next step, the solar panels will be installed and actual application
of III's B6 practical program will be moved ahead again.
Oxbows exploration, LaBelle,
Decemeber 12, 2013
Canoeing through the Caloosahatchee
River oxbows was organized as a small outing during an afternoon.
We paddled through several oxbows, explored its flora and fauna
and as a bonus stopped on small beach, where we were able to find
survey of Intelligentsia's property, LaBelle, October 2013
During October 2013, we prepared
various designs for installation of solar units at one of the Intelligentsia's
properties. Prior the structure could be installed, we had to conduct
the property topographical survey in order to measure elevation
difference in the land surface. This will help us to make a decision
whether the area will need to be leveled out or whether we will
need to account for the differences by adjusting the structure dimensions.
water technologies seminar, Miami, August 29, 2013
The Consulate General of Israel
and the Greenberg Traurig international law firm hosted "A
Seminar on Innovative Water Technologies", highlighting Israeli
companies marketing products and services in the USA to address
a range of water management challenges. The keynote speaker was
Florida's Commissioner for Agriculture, Adam Putnam. The venue was
the 44th floor meeting room in the Wells Fargo Center of downtown
Miami. A great seminar to attend for our program participants.
LaBelle Nature Park information
collection, August 2013
Nicolas, an environmental science
student from France, spent time in the LaBelle Nature Park in August
2013, collecting information in preparation to create new web pages
describing 38 different plants and animals in the park. The Nature
Park is a volunteer project of Rotary Club of LaBelle, Caloosahatchee
River Citizens Association, Intelligentsia International and LaBelle-Hendry
weekend in northern Florida, August 9 - 11, 2013
Our participants, spending a part
of their program in the Gainesville location, organized a weekend
trip to few major attractions of northern Florida - Kennedy Space
Center (NASA) and historical St. Augustine. While on the road, a
quick stop in an alligator farm spiced up the outing.
extended weekend in Tampa, July 19 - 22, 2013
Intelligentsia International owns
an apartment in Tampa, where can stay our participants during a
weekend trip from time to time. It was the case of the past weekend,
where visiting major attractions of Tampa area (such as downtown,
Ybor City, Busch Gardens, etc.) was the plan. We even stayed in
Tampa during Monday, when we took care of our office tasks not from
our regular office in LaBelle, but from the University of South
measurements in Caloosahatchee River oxbows, August 2013
During August 2013, Alex, a geography
student from England (University of Southampton), ventured into
the field with Dr. Capece, Nargiza and Zhi to measure water velocities
in the old oxbows of the Caloosahatchee River. The work was as a
follow-up to a 2005 physical restoration project and hydrodynamics
simulations by Dr. Capece.
extended weekend in Miami, July 4 - 7, 2013
Earning sufficient number of "make-up
hours" in our program guarantees a day off. Few of our participants
took this advantage and took a day of on Friday, July 5. This arrangement
then allowed them for an extended weekend (from Jul 4 to Jul 7)
in Miami. In addition to the standard visits to Miami beaches, Ocean
Drive and Art Deco District, this time there was also plenty of
time to watch the July 4 fireworks in Bayside, visit sea aquarium
or science museum.
water levels measurements, LaBelle, July - August 2013
In late July engineering students
Li (Michigan State University) and Joseph (Boston University) began
measuring ground water levels near the Port LaBelle Utilities rapid
infiltration basins. The purpose was to determine the direction
of subsurface flow so that a new monitoring program could be developed.
weekend in amusement parks, Orlando, June 15-16, 2013
Spending a weekend in Orlando's
theme parks is a great way to experience American way of having
fun. There are so many amusement parks there that one weekend is
not enough. We'll have to go back soon again.
weekend trip to Florida Keys, June 1 - 2, 2013
Snorkeling in Key Largo (in John
Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park) and visiting then the southernmost
point of continental USA in Key West are among highlights of any
visit to Florida. Our current group organized this trip this past
weekend and came back with tons of great experiences!
to the Rotary Club of LaBelle, May 28
Magdalena, a university student
from Poland and Intelligentsia's program participant, spoke to the
Rotary Club of LaBelle on the topic of Peace during their May 28
weekly lunch meeting. "Peace through Service" is the 2012-2013
theme for Rotary clubs worldwide. Magdalena is a sociologist specializing
in conflict resolution.
Service hours tasks -
dormitory house maintenance, Gainesville, May 27
Those participants who took some
recreational time in Washington DC during the weekdays made up for
the lost office time by performing "service projects"
with Dr. Capece. The men repaired a leak in the roof and cleaned
up the yard of leaves and branches at the Gainesville dormitory
house. "Do it yourself" home maintenance is a common American
activity. Six service hours are required of each participant each
month. Some do more to accumulate additional vacation time for recreational
trips. These activities can include a wide variety of things such
as cutting the grass, improving the dorm rooms, office cleaning,
helping the local schools, participating in Rotary club service
in Washington DC, May 20-24, 2013
When not attending the Department
of Energy conference with Dr. Capece in Alexandria, Intelligentsia
participants visited the monuments and museums of Washington DC.
The two cities are neighbors and connected by the DC Metro trains.
Washington DC is the seat of the federal government (Congress, President
and Supreme Court).
conference, Alexandria, Virginia, May 20-24, 2013
In the city of Alexandria, Virginia,
the Bioenergy Technologies Office (US Department of Energy) held
a biennial Peer Review of all its projects. Intelligentsia participants
working on related projects were able to attend the conference and
hear some of the 250 presentations in various technology areas.
Intelligentsia's president Dr. Capece presented about progress on
our biofuels sustainability research project.
weekend, Miami & Miami Beach, May 10-12, 2013
Miami Beach is a municipality
located on a series of natural and man-made barrier islands between
the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, the latter which separates
the Beach from Miami city proper. We visited the famous South Beach,
chilled around the Ocean Drive, experienced its nightlife and much,
much, much more.
Weekend outing, Sarasota,
May 4-5, 2013
Sarasota is a city located south
of the Tampa Bay Area and north of Fort Myers. Its limits include
Sarasota Bay and several barrier islands between the bay and the
Gulf of Mexico. A perfect spot to visit during a weekend, not only
because of its pristine beaches, but also chic boutiques, fine dining
establishments and snack bars.
Palmdale, April 27, 2013
A 5-minutes drive from FishEating
Creek is famous Gatorama. This alligator and crocodile farm with
daily shows makes for a great adventure. One can get close and personal
with many Florida native and exotic animals, or even hold them,
if brave enough :)
and camping at FishEating Creek, April 27-28, 2013
Fisheating Creek is a perfect
place to get up-close to "wild" Florida. Only 20 minutes
drive from LaBelle, we like to go there from time to time. In addition
to kayaking and picnicking, this weekend our participants also stayed
overnight in local camp.
Earth Week celebration,
LaBelle, Apr 22-25, 2013
Hundreds of children from local
schools participated in the Earth Week celebration this year. The
kids visited several different educational stations around the Captain
Hendry House in LaBelle and learned about various environmental
practices. Our participants delivered during 4 days lessons about
drinking and waste water management.
Exploration of LaBelle
by new participants, April 2013
A newly arrived group of our program
participants started to explore LaBelle these days: wondering in
local nature park - check, enjoying local swimming pool - check,
playing at tennis courts - check.
Miles Cypress board walk with a ranger, Fort Myers, March 23, 2013
We joined a ranger led board walk
through the Six Mile Cypress and enjoyed such trip. Blooming trees,
tons of wildlife and very warm temperatures clearly indicate that
spring reached Florida already. Time to start exploring Florida
Patrick's Day in Florida, March 17, 2013
Saint Patrick's Day, while not
a legal holiday in the USA, is widely recognized and celebrated
throughout the country. It is observed as a celebration of Irish
and Irish American culture. Celebrations include prominent displays
of the color green, eating, drinking and numerous parades. What
a day full of fun!
Retirement party for
Professor Hanlon, Fort Myers, March 16, 2013
Professor Ed Hanlon has been the
Primary Investigator of our biofuels project. Last week, after almost
30 years with the University of Florida, he retired. A surprise
"retirement party" was organized in a Yacht Club for him
and we truly enjoyed attending the event, where many of his friends
and co-workers met. Professor Hanlon, enjoy your retirement!
O' Birding Festival, LaBelle and surrounding areas, Mar 12 - 16,
On the south shores of Lake Okeechobee
takes place once a year the so called "Big O' Birding Festival".
Organized tours, free presentations about birding, photographers'
contest and other activities attract many visitors. No wonder that
our program participants like to join some of these events.
17 local recreational parks, LaBelle, Mar 7, 2013
Hendry County Recreation Department
asked Intelligentsia International to help with developing its brochures
and other promotional materials. To give us a better idea of what
services the Recreation Dept. provides, we toured 17 (!!) recreational
parks within LaBelle limits. That's right, there are 17 various
recreational parks within walking distance from our office. Activities
one can do there include baseball, soccer, football, tennis, racquetball,
golf, jogging, boats launching, basketball, volleyball, rodeo, swimming
and many others. While LaBelle is a small town, there are certainly
many recreational activities options here.
and presentation by Joy Hazell, Fort Myers, March 6, 2013
Joy Hazell of Florida Sea Grant
presented during regular monthly CRCA/Riverwatch meeting on the
health of the Caloosahatchee River and its estuary. The presentation
took place at the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium in Ft.
Myers and made for a very interesting and educational evening.
in Port LaBelle Marina, Feb 28, 2013
The marina in Port LaBelle (just
a few minutes bike ride from our housing) is a nice and quiet place
to take a rest after a busy day in the office. Catching there a
sunset makes one feel very relaxed. Come and see, everyone likes
that place :)
Cabbage Festival, LaBelle, Feb 23-24, 2013
The annual Swamp Cabbage Festival
took place in LaBelle this weekend. Intelligentsia International
program participants had a chance to experience a typical American
festival, started with a parade and followed for the whole weekend
by entertaining events related to rodeo, food, arts, crafts, high
school bands, Miss Swamp Cabbage content, armadillos racing, etc.
Sort of hectic, but very entertaining weekend :)
trip to Bahamas, February 8-11, 2013
To those of us with a bit of an
adventurous soul might Florida seem a bit small after a few months
here. So how about a cruise trip to Bahamas? Well, this past weekend
few of us undertook a 3-days cruise to Nassau and few islands around.
Although Bahamas are almost next door to Florida, getting there
is still a world's apart adventure. What a great extended weekend!
birdwatching, LaBelle, Feb 3, 2013
There are few enthusiastic amateur
photographers in our group, so for them (and not only for them)
there is always an opportunity to walk or bike around LaBelle and
search for various photo shooting opportunities. This afternoon
the focus was on various birding species.
Creek outting, January 28, 2013
After a bit stressful push for
organizing the AWRA conference, we deserved a relaxing afternoon.
In addition, today was the last day in the office for Jean, our
engineering intern from France, so we threw a sort of a farewell
party for him by grilling some good food and canoeing on the calm
waters of FishEating Creek.
Six Mile Cypress Slough
wet walk, Fort Myers, January 26, 2013
Bob Repenning, Lee County Biologist,
led a wet walk through the north Six Mile Cypress Slough system,
discussing the management challenges and restoration efforts underway
on some of the recently acquired preserves. We saw newly restored
areas as well as disturbed areas soon to be restored. There were
no trails on the property yet, so it made for a great trip to wonder
around during this field trip.
22nd Annual Southwest
Florida Water Resources Conference, Fort Myers, January 25, 2013
The 2012/13 American Water Resources
Association Conference focused on the nexus of water and energy
– the water that goes into energy and the energy that goes
into water. It was held at the Royal Palm Yacht Club in Ft. Myers.
The technical sessions were followed by posters presentations and
panel discussion with national level scientist from Congressional
Research Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Government
Accountability Office and various top class US universities. Joining
70 professionals were 80 students including all of those from our
Glades School Science Fair, LaBelle, January 10, 2013
Those of us with completed Masters
or Doctoral degree were invited to volunteer as judges during the
West Glades School Science Fair. Accepting the invitation was something
we absolutely did not regret - spending few hours as judges for
high school kids' science projects made for a great and mind-refreshing
PortLaBelle Utility System
Advisory Board meeting & public hearing, LaBelle, January 9, 2013
Our group attended a Port LaBelle Utility System (PLUS) Advisory Board meeting at the Hendry County Courthouse in LaBelle. It was very interesting to observe the influence of public speakers during the public hearing on the Board members and theirs decisions relative to the proposed water rates increase. A perfect example of working democracy, where public opinion can and does affect decisions.
birthday, LaBelle, January 8, 2013
Jing, who came to our program
exactly 3 months ago from Dalhousie University in Halifax, has her
birthday today. Actually, she started celebrating it yesterday evening
already, as at that time was in her home country of China January
8 already, thus it was a birthday time there. What a smart approach
to extend the holiday time by several hours :) Happy birthday from
all of us!
meeting and presentation by Dr. Paul Gray, Fort Myers, January 2,
A regular monthly meeting of the
Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (CRCA) took place at Calusa
Nature Center in Ft. Myers. Main presenter was Dr. Paul Gray, researcher
and advocate for Lake Okeechobee ecological issues. Meeting a scientist
with 20+ years of experience on issues closely related to our technical
research made for a very interesting evening for all of us.
Year's Day in Florida, December 31, 2012 - January 1, 2013
There are many options what to
do on the last day of a year. While in Florida, a beach is almost
a mandatory item to spend the day and refresh the remembrance of
the passing year. Celebrating with fireworks at the stroke of midnight
as the new year starts makes a great start - Happy New Year!
Canoeing on Orange River,
Lee County Manatee Park, Fort Myers, December 30, 2012
With occasional strikes of cold
fronts to Florida, manatees made their way back into the protection
of warm water refuges right next to the Florida Power & Light
plant in Fort Myers. This weekend we decided to canoe around there
to see manatees up-close. With tens of manatees in such a close
proximity to us, it made for a wonderful afternoon.
in Florida, December 25, 2012
While catching a breeze through
swaying palms or watching dolphins over warm sunset may not be everyone's
idea of a typical Christmas, there are still some pretty unique
ways to celebrate the season in Florida. Few of our program participants
celebrated Christmas without theirs families for the first time
in theirs lives and going without ice and snow was very new for
them as well, but the magic of the season still arrived with friendly
invitations from local friends, walking around well decorated houses
or even by building a "sandman" instead of a "snowman"
and Ecosystem Markets 2012" conference, Fort Lauderdale, December 10-13, 2012
Everyone from our office attended
the "ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012" conference in Fort
Lauderdale. The conference attendees shared experiences, methods,
tools and processes for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services
into public and private decisions. With hundreds of available presentations
and an opportunity to discuss ecosystem services and related issues
with leaders in government, NGOs, academia, tribal organizations
and the private sector, this was a very unique experience for all
of us - actually, this was probably the most comprehensive event
on the ecosystem services - globally!
during the "ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012" conference,
Fort Lauderdale, December 10-13, 2012
While attending the above mentioned
conference, of course we had to find some time for recreational
activities. Since our hotel was right on the Atlantic coast, it
is not too hard to guess where we liked to spend few evening hours
the most - on a beach. Fort Lauderdale is also a very popular tourist
destination and a major yachting center, so wondering around the
expansive and intricate canal system made for a great outing.
LaBelle Utility System Advisory Board meeting, LaBelle, December
Our group attended a Port LaBelle
Utility System (PLUS) Advisory Board meeting at the Hendry County
Courthouse in LaBelle. Various aspects of PLUS budget and finances
were presented there. The discussion was certainly very technical,
thus an opportunity of professional development interest to many
in the Park, LaBelle, November 30, 2012
With the Holiday season coming
up, LaBelle's Chamber of Commerce organized an event called "Christmas
in the Park". Santa Claus arrived and ordered a mountain of
snow. The fluffy white stuff was piled high - just right for climbing
up and sliding back down. The best part - in Florida's warm weather
this can be easily done by wearing only a T-shirt and shorts :)
Day holiday, November 22, 2012
Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated
on the fourth Thursday in November. The "First Thanksgiving"
was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the
New World in 1621. Many of the old traditions are gone, but one
remained till today - serving of a Thanksgiving meal. Roasted turkey,
stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry
sauce, sweet corn, fall vegetables and pumpkin pie. Well, some of
us (foreigners in our group) enjoyed the meal for the first time,
but all of us (regardless of nationality) agreed that it was super-yummy-delicious
Canoeing on Orange River,
Lee County Manatee Park, Fort Myers, November 17, 2012
Now that the weather has started
to get a little cooler (it is around 22 C instead of the summertime
33 C), manatees are making their way back into the protection of
warm water refuges right next to the Florida Power & Light plant
in Fort Myers. This weekend we decided to canoe around there to
see manatees up-close. It is still little early in the season for
manatees to be there in large numbers, but we saw 5 or 6 of the
mighty "sea-cows". Letting the Orange River move slowly
our canoes around mangroves full of birds made for a perfect relaxing
River Ride, Alva, November 11, 2012
Riverwatch organized its 16th
Annual River Ride, the recreational bike ride around the Caloosahatchee
River. Routes for 15, 30, 40, and 62 miles were offered and few
of us helped with organizing this relaxed event. The spirit of the
"race" could be quoted in Pierre de Coubertin's way -
"The most important thing in the race is not winning, but taking
Energy and Sustainable Technologies Conference, Fort Myers, November
The University of Florida, IFAS
Lee County Extension in partnership with Lee County’s Pollution
Prevention Program organized its fourth annual, Clean Energy and
Sustainable Technologies Conference. Scientists, entrepreneurs and
leaders from academia, industry and government shared research and
development information on innovative solutions. Intelligentsia's
president, Dr. John Capece delivered a presentation "Energy
& Life Cycle Analysis of Farming" and discussed partial
findings of our Biofuels projects. Our program participants attended
the conference as well and had an opportunity to meet the region's
investors, farmers, developers and engineers.
Election Day, LaBelle,
November 6, 2012
Election Day was on Tuesday, November
6, 2012. Our students were offered an option to waive signs in front
of polling stations for theirs favorite political candidates. Of
course we gave them the freedom to choose what candidate they wanted
to support this way.
Halloween party, LaBelle,
October 31, 2012
According to Wikipedia, "typical
festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending
costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting
bonfires, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling
scary stories, and watching horror films." Guess what - we
did all these activities. Scary fun :)
High School homecoming & LaBelle Cowboys football game, LaBelle,
October 26, 2012
Homecoming is the tradition of
welcoming back alumni of a school, in this case LaBelle High School.
For a small town like LaBelle this is an important event. No wonder
that almost the whole town attended the parade that the was organized
during a half-time break of the Cowboys football game. Too bad that
the Cowboys lost against Palmdale Green Dragons 14-16. Still, watching
the event was great fun!
Obama's campaigning speech, Ybor City, October 25, 2012
President Obama visited Ybor City
and delivered another of his campaigning speeches. With less than
2 weeks left to the actual presidential election, most of the 8500+
people attending the event already seemed "fired up and ready
to go". Few of us from Intelligentsia also visited the event
and had the privilege to see the US president from just few feet
Florida Agricultural Water Management Conference, LaBelle, October
Hendry County Extension Office
of the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences (UF/IFAS) hosted a "Southwest Florida Agricultural
Water Management Conference". More than 100 people (farmers,
growers, policy makers, scientists, environmental activists, etc.)
attended the conference, getting up-to-date presentations about
various strategic issues impacting water resources for agricultural
users in SW Florida.
Myers Beach relaxation, Oktoberfest in Cape Coral, October 21, 2012
This Sunday we relaxed for few
hours on the warm and silky Fort Myers Beach. To cool off afterwards,
we went to Cape Coral, where the German American Social Club organized
its 27th Oktoberfest. Live bands from Germany, European-style dancing
in a giant tent and way too much great food with German beer made
for a perfect afternoon.
Okaloacoochee Slough State
Forest Awareness Day, October 20, 2012
Florida Forest Service organized
Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest Awareness Day. We attended the
event, took a tour with qualified guides through the park and learned
a lot about the unique natural system just few miles south off LaBelle.
The forest is home to several endangered species such as the Florida
panther and although we did not see one, it was a very pleasant
Nature Park guided tour, LaBelle, October 17, 2012
Intelligentsia's director, Dr.
John Capece, walked the Hendry-Glades Leadership group through the
LaBelle Nature Park. He presented on the Caloosahatchee River, its
oxbows values and various management issues of the Park. Those of
us who didn't mind the rather early start (7:30 AM) had a great
Kiwanis Kid's Day &
Pumpkin Patch, LaBelle, October 13, 2012
Annual Kid's Day sponsored by
Kiwanis Club of LaBelle took place this past weekend. While most
of the attractions were for kids, it was still fun for us to walk
around, sample great food and collect free candy. Also, the "pumpkin
season" is on these days, so visiting a Pumpkin Patch organized
by one of the local churches reminded us that autumn is coming.
In Florida's 80 F (27 C) it feel like a warm autumn though :)
Hendry County Political Forum, LaBelle, October 11, 2012
LaBelle Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs
sponsored the 2012 Hendry County Political Forum. More than a dozen
of candidates for various local political positions delivered theirs
campaigning speeches. And for those of us not interested in listening
to the politicians, there was the Swamp Cabbage Festival 2012 Queen
to pay an attention to.
meeting, presentation by Laurie Macdonald, LaBelle, October 3, 2012
A regular monthly meeting of the
Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (CRCA) / Riverwatch took
place at the Port LaBelle Inn in LaBelle. Director of Florida Program
of "Defenders of Wildlife" Laurie Macdonald presented
about Florida panthers and proposed projects for creating new corridors
and habitat for these endangered mammal predators around LaBelle.
President Biden's campaigning speech, Lexington Middle School, Fort
Myers, September 29, 2012
Vice President Joe Biden campaigned
in Florida last week. Our group received few tickets for an event
in Fort Myers, where Biden was delivering his remarks about economy,
social security, medicate, veteran's affairs, etc. There was more
than 2000 people at the event and we were less than 15 feet from
the 47th Vice President of the United States.
Gulf Coast University Service-Learning Fair, Fort Myers, September
Florida Gulf Coast University
in Fort Myers organized a Service-Learning Fair on its campus. Few
of our program participants attended the event and supported CRCA/Riverwatch
in its efforts there. We brought brochures, displayed boards and
helped with inviting some of the FGCU students for upcoming environmental
events CRCA/Riverwatch will organize and we will also attend. And
while there, we also toured the fancy campus :)
dinners with local Rotary Club, LaBelle, September 11 - 17, 2012
Each year members of the Rotary
Club of LaBelle serve spaghetti dinners to the students, parents
and staff at the open house nights of area elementary schools. All
collected donations go back to the schools' education funds. This
year few of our program participants decided to join the effort
and helped to serve "all you can eat" spaghetti dioshes
at 3 different local schools.
Agricultural Area (EAA) tour, led by Leslie Baucum, September 12,
Les Baucum, a regional sugarcane/agronomic
agent at the Hendry County Extension office of UF/IFAS in LaBelle,
led a tour to the Everglades Agricultural Area. Those of us involved
in the Biofuels research project attended the tour and learned a
lot about sugarcane farming in south Florida.
meeting, presentation and book signing by Amy Bennett Williams,
Fort Myers, September 5, 2012
A regular monthly meeting of the
Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (CRCA) took place at the
Royal Palm Yacht Club in Fort Myers. Presentation and then book
"Along the Caloosahatchee River" signing by Amy Bennett
Williams attracted more than 60 people, including all of us from
Days parade & festival and Gulf of Mexico beaches, Englewood, September 3, 2012
On the Labor Day, Englewood hosted
its 56th Pioneer Days parade and festival. We attended the event
and had lots of fun (and good food) there. Afterwards we spent the
afternoon at the rather perfect beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island/Cape Canaveral, August 31, 2012
The John F. Kennedy Space Center
is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every
United States human space flight since 1968. With a new group of
our students, we toured the The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
that has a variety of exhibits, artifacts, displays and attractions
on the history and future of human and robotic spaceflight. What
an unique experience!
storm Isaac, August 26-27, 2012
Almost every summer, Florida experiences
tropical cyclones and storms. This past weekend tropical storm Isaac
visited south Florida. Luckily, damage caused to Florida has been
only minor and the storm's influence in LaBelle was minimal - some
stronger winds and several inches of rain. Regardless, we were ready
for the storm and are all safe and in good shape.
Trip to Key West, August 25, 2012
Key West is an island and a small
city in the Straits of Florida, at the southernmost tip of the Florida
Keys and the whole USA. The island is only about 90 miles from Cuba,
so the closest large city from there is not Miami, but Havana. Few
of us organized a trip there this weekend, but the weather was not
on our side. Lots of rain made us cut the trip shorter and return
back to LaBelle. Never mind, we'll try again in the future, when
the sun returns to the "Sunshine" state.
Football game, Miami, August 24, 2012
Miami Dolphins played the Atlanta
Falcons at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami. We were there, watching
the Falcons' win 23-6. This was just a pre-season game, so we might
go back to Miami for another Dolphin's game sometimes in the future,
once the NFL season starts.
seminars by departing program participants, LaBelle, August 14 and 15, 2012
Two of our summer 2012 participants
delivered to our other team members final seminars about the issues
they investigated during theirs stay with us. Andrew explained us
various details about Google Earth mapping as applied to Port
Labelle Utilities System, while Marine reported about her emergy
(embodied energy) analysis findings. Both Andrew and Marine
depart our program this week, so we wish them good luck with theirs
training from Master Meter Systems, Port LaBelle Utility System
office, LaBelle, August 8 - 10, 2012
Intelligentsia has been contracted
by Hendry County as an adviser for planning Port
Labelle Utilities System (PLUS) development. As a part of improving
its services, PLUS installed an AMR (Automatic Meter Reading) system
that pulls in real-time readings from installed water meters. During
the past 3 days, we received a training from Master Meter Systems
technician on softwares and tools that will help us monitor the
systems efficiency and reliability.
by Dr. John Capece to the Rotary Club of LaBelle, August 7, 2012
President of Intelligentsia International,
Dr. John Capece, delivered to the Rotary Club of LaBelle a presentation
about a potential service project in north-east Afghanistan. Existing
clinic and school there need help with resolving issues related
to drinking water and sanitation. Intelligentsia International,
together with several Rotary clubs, might get involved in that project,
just as was done few years ago in a similar
drinking water projects in Tajikistan.
ceremony of our program former participant, University of South
Florida, Tampa, August 4, 2012
Our former intern Chloe (originally
from France), trained in our office on the Caloosahatchee River
oxbows restoration project back
in 2008. After completing her internship with us, she moved
to Tampa, where she spent 3 years as a graduate student at the Univerity
of South Florida, working further on the oxbows project. This weekend
she invited us to join a ceremony commencing her Master's Degree.
On the photo she is with her husband Monyo, who is by the way also
our former intern (originally from Bulgaria). Congratulations!
meeting and presentation by Dan Delisi, LaBelle, August 1, 2012
A regular monthly meeting of
the Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (CRCA) took place
at the Beef O'Brady's restaurant in LaBelle. Main presenter was
Dan Delisi, governing member of South Florida Water Management District.
Dan introduced a proposal for the Lake Okeechobee back-pumping,
a plan that creates a lot of controversy and discussions in SW Florida.
Beach and Sawgrass Recreation Park, July 28, 2012
We spent most of this Saturday
wondering around Miami Beach, one of the America's most pre-eminent
beach resorts, relaxing on the white sandy beaches and walking around
the famous Art-Deco district there. After all the city buzz and
rush, on the way back to LaBelle we stopped at Sawgrass Recreation
Park to calm down a bit. Taking an airboat tour there was not exactly
the quietest activity, but seeing the local nature from an exhilarating
perspective was an unforgettable experience.
theme park, Orlando, July 22, 2012
EPCOT is a theme park dedicated
to the celebration of human achievement, namely international culture
and technological innovation. EPCOT is often referred to as a "permanent
World's Fair", as within few hours one can walk through pavilions
representing eleven countries (e.g. Norway, China, Germany or Canada
just to name few). We had a great, international, time here.
Universal Studios, Orlando,
July 21, 2012
Universal Studios in Orlando
is a working film and TV production facility. It is often said that
this is a theme park that lets visitors "Ride the Movies."
The themes are targeted at making guests feel like they are in a
movie set, whether it'd be Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, Seuss
Landing or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And yes, for some
of us (who came here for the first time) seeing all of this was
almost a "Petrificus Totalus" :)
Slough State Forest, Felda, July 14, 2012
The Okaloacoochee Slough State
Forest (just 11 miles south of LaBelle) provides multiple-use -
ecosystem restoration, silvicultural and watershed management, recreation
and wildlife management. The forest offers a variety of recreational
activities for visitors, many miles of open forest roads available
for hiking and bicycling, so we surely will go back again to this
Canoeing and camping at
FishEating Creek, July 8-9, 2012
FishEating Creek is a place we
visit quite often, as we simply enjoy the calm waters and relaxing
atmosphere of this magical place. This time we added to the canoeing
element also an overnight camping. What an experience and great
time we had here!
LaBelle Nature Park cleanup
day, LaBelle, July 7, 2012
Together with CRCA/Riverwatch
members, FGCU students, Rotary Club of LaBelle members and others
from the local community, we attended the LaBelle Nature Park cleanup.
Main part of our work was trail maintenance - removing invasive
exotic plants and clearing walking trails. An article about this
our effort was also included in the most recent version of the local
newspaper - Caloosa Belle. You can read the whole article
game and 4th of July fireworks, St. Petersburg, July 4, 2012
Among the most popular activities
during the Independence Day is watching a baseball game. And when
it comes to a good baseball game, then Yankees are surely the choice.
Our group watched in St. Pete stadium how New York Yankees won against
Tampa Bay Rays 4:3. Evening of the the holiday day was then fulfilled
by a spectacular fireworks. Happy birthday, America.
in Miami, June 30 - July 1, 2012
Once in a while, all members
of our group want to go to Miami. This past weekend was one of the
occasions, we spent there 2 days, visiting Miami downtown, walking
around the famous South Beach (and enjoying its night-life), spending
some great time on beaches, wondering around Little Havana, etc.
There is so much to see and do in Miami that we will surely go back
De San Marco, St. Augustine, June 24, 2012
St. Augustine was founded in
1565 by Spanish explorers and it is the oldest continuously occupied
European-established city and port in the continental United States.
We planned to spend here the whole Sunday, unfortunately the steady
rain created by tropical storm Debby made us change our plans and
leave earlier. We will be back though!
University of Florida
campus tour, Gainesville, June 23, 2012
The University of Florida campus
is located in Gainesville. It is the seventh largest single-campus
university in the United States with 49,589 students enrolled for
the fall 2011 semester. We had a chance to tour the main campus
and without an exception, everyone in our group got amazed by the
interior of Ben Hill Griffin Football Stadium, also known as "The
Salvador Dali Museum and
downtown tour, St. Petersburg, June 22, 2012
Those of us who did not get tickets
for the Obama event in Tampa, visited the Salvador Dali Museum in
St. Petersburg. It is the largest collection outside Europe of the
works of the artist Salvador Dali. The museum's collection includes
96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors and drawings, 1,300 graphics,
photographs, sculptures and objets d'art, and an extensive archival
President Obama's campaigning
speech, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, June 22, 2012
President Obama visited Hillsborough
Community College in Tampa on June 22. Our group received 5 tickets
for the event where Obama was delivering his remarks and campaigning.
There was 2500 people at the event, we were just 50 feet from the
president. Do you see us in the yellow circle? :)
Party dinner, Clewiston, June 16, 2012
The Democratic Party organized
a dinner in Clewiston as a celebration of the partnership of Glades
and Hendry County Democrats. Promoting Democratic Party was a keynote
speaker Alcee Hastings, Congressman for Miami and parts of Hendry
County. Not only we enjoyed his speech, we also enjoyed the great
Nature Park cleanup, LaBelle, June 16, 2012
Together with CRCA/Riverwatch
members, this Saturday we attended the LaBelle Nature Park cleanup.
Main part of our work was trail maintenance - removing invasive
exotic plants, clearing walking trails, etc.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef
State Park weekend, Key Largo, June 9, 2012
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park encompasses coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps. These areas were established to protect and preserve the only living coral reef in the continental United States. This weekend, we visited the state park and had very good time here, as the area is extraordinarily beautiful.
tour, Lorida, June 7, 2012
BP Biofuels-Highlands has extended an invitation to tour the Highlands County facility to learn about the company’s biofuels initiative. Some of our team members attended the event, were introduced to technological know-how of the facility and had an opportunity to see how BP pursues its sustainable biofuels production.
Board of Directors meeting, LaBelle, June 6, 2012
At the relaxed "Bridge Street
Coffee Shop" (that everyone here calls only "the Charlie's
place") took place a regular monthly meeting of Caloosahatchee
River Citizens Association (CRCA) Board of Directors. Several of
our program participants attended and had a chance to learn more
about various issues CRCA is after and planned environmental events
for the upcoming months.
Andrew's birthday, LaBelle,
June 4, 2012
Andrew, who came to our program
from California State University in Sacramento, had his birthday
today. It took some planning to make a small party for him a complete
surprise, but it worked out well. Andrew was so surprised that he
even did not mind to wear his pink "birthday-hat" :) Happy
birthday from all of us!
Caspersen Beach, Venice,
June 3, 2012
Caspersen Beach is about 80 minutes from LaBelle, but definitely worth the drive. The southern two thirds of beachfront has been left in its natural state and the beach is recognized as one of the most enjoyable shelling beaches in SW Florida. It is also an exceptionally good area to find prehistoric sharks’ teeth. Guess what - we found many of them!
Key State Park, May 28, 2012
Another daily trip of the "LaBelle
group" was to Lovers Key State Park. While very close to the
famous Fort Myers Beach, Lovers Key offers less crowded beaches
(actually, some of the beaches here are very remote and solitary),
miles of trails for hiking and tons of wildlife.
Gatorama, Palmdale, May
Another daily trip of the "LaBelle
group" was to Gatorama. Less than 20 miles from LaBelle, this
Florida's original alligator and crocodile farm with daily shows
made for a great adventure. Its 1000 foot long boardwalk might seem
quite short, but we spent there several hours, being up close and
personal with many Florida native and exotic animals. You're not
likely to get this close to LARGE alligators and crocodiles anywhere
Tampa, May 26, 2012
During the Memorial Day extended
weekend, our program participants divided into 2 groups - one of
them going to Miami for 3 full days, the other group staying in
LaBelle and doing simple daily trips. The "LaBelle group"
visited Tampa (after conducting some technical meetings at University
of South Florida there on Friday), having e.g. a chance to wonder
about the Tampa's downtown famous RiverWalk.
Miami, May 25 - 28, 2012
During the Memorial Day extended
weekend, our program participants divided into 2 groups - one of
them going to Miami for 3 full days, the other group staying in
LaBelle and doing simple daily trips. The "Miami group"
certainly enjoyed itself, visiting e.g. Miami Heat NBA play-off
game, Miami Merlins baseball game, checking on some of the fancy
Miami downtown malls or enjoying very much the famous Miami South
World, Orlando, May 20, 2012
Second theme park on our weekend
list was Sea World in Orlando. A marine-life based zoological park
is devoted to Earth's oceans and the array of life that inhabits
them. It is the ninth-most visited amusement park in the United
States, so no wonder that we also wanted to see animal exhibits,
a number of live shows with trained animals as well as thrilling
Busch Gardens, Tampa,
May 19, 2012
This weekend we decided to visit 2 amusement parks. First one on the list was Busch Gardens in Tampa, a park with an African theme. It is one of America's largest zoological institutions, with 335 acres and more than 2,700 animals. Tons of attractions and rides made for a great fun day.
Relaxing afternoon at
Warm Mineral Springs resort & presentation by Senator's wife Grace
Nelson, May 18, 2012
Our group was invited to a small
reception organized for Florida Senator Nelson's wife Grace. After
the speech, we also had an opportunity to discuss with Grace Nelson
various issues. And since the gathering took place in Warm Mineral
Springs resort, we also used the opportunity to swim in a pond which
is being considered as the one with the highest healing mineral
content in the USA.
Merritt Island National
Wildlife Refuge, Merritt Island, May 12, 2012
Some of our program participants
visited the Kennedy Space Center previously and thus while on the
Space Coast, they decided for a change to check the adjacent Merritt
Island National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge provides a range of
habitats, from saltwater estuaries and freshwater impoundments and
marshes, to dunes, hardwood hammocks, and scrub. It is therefore
rich in over 1000 species of plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles,
birds and mammal. Seeing some of them up-close was just great.
Kennedy Space Center,
Merritt Island/Cape Canaveral, May 12, 2012
The John F. Kennedy Space Center
is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every
United States human space flight since 1968. This weekend we toured
the The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex that has a variety
of exhibits, artifacts, displays and attractions on the history
and future of human and robotic spaceflight. What an unique experience!
of Water treatment plant and Waste water treatment plant, LaBelle,
May 9, 2012
We had an unique opportunity to
tour the Port LaBelle water treatment plant (WTP) and waste water
treatment plant (WWTP). With Intelligentsia being contracted by
Hendry County as an adviser for planning Port Labelle Utilities
System (PLUS) development, we needed to get another insight look
into the water plants operations. In the coming months, we will
be documenting all the main procedures used in the WTP and WWTP
A participant from nation
#62 in Intelligentsia's program, LaBelle, May 8, 2012
With arrival of Beatrice from
Sweden (on the picture checking depth of a ditch), the number of
nations that participated in our program during the past 10 years
went up to 62. See more at the nation's
page to see if anyone from your nation has visited our program
antenna installation, LaBelle, May 7, 2012
Intelligentsia has been contracted
by Hendry County as an adviser for planning Port Labelle Utilities
System (PLUS) development. As a part of improving its services,
PLUS is installing an AMR (Automatic Meter Reading) system that
uses an antenna and pulls in real-time readings as to how much water
is being pumped to the utility system and how much of it is being
consumed. We had a chance to visit the antenna installation and
in the future will be monitoring the system efficiency and reliability.
Fort Myers Beach, Lovers
Key State Park, May 6, 2012
It seems that our group has a
new tradition - to spend at least 1 weekend day on beach. We went
(again) to Fort Myers Beach, but some of us continued late in the
afternoon to close-by Lovers Key State Park and it was definitely
worth the visit.
Hoover Dike cycling, Clewiston,
May 5, 2012
Some members of our group decided
to extend theirs day in Clewiston area and biked on the famous Hoover
Dike, an artificial construction around the waters of Lake Okeechobee,
built back in 1930's to control flooding in SW Florida. We saw many
birds, alligators and other wildlife, but always from a safe distance.
Brown Sugar Festival,
Clewiston, May 5, 2012
Clewiston (30 miles east of LaBelle)
is thanks to all its sugarcane planting called "the sweetest
town in America". We visited the 34th Annual Brown Sugar Festival
there this weekend. Some members of our group volunteered to help
the Hendry County Democrats with registering new Florida voters
for the upcoming Presidential elections.
meeting & presentation by Dr. Lisa Beever, Fort Myers, May 2, 2012
Our group joined the CRCA/Riverwatch
monthly meeting, this time held in the fancy Royal Palm Yacht Club
in Fort Myers. Dr. Lisa Beever, Director of the Charlotte Harbor
National Estuary Program, delivered a presentation about impacts
of climate change on the Caloosahatchee River, its estuary and the
whole SW Florida.
on beaches, Sanibel Island & Fort Myers Beach, Apr 28-29, 2012
Who wants to spend a weekend on
a beach? We did, so we spent Saturday cycling around the Sanibel
Island beaches and Sunday relaxing on the Fort Myers Beach. Simply
put - a great weekend.
Trees For Earth Day, LaBelle, Apr 26, 2012
In honor of the Earth Day, our
group joined the "Planting Trees For Earth Day" ceremony.
LaBelle Mayor Paul Puletti attended the ceremony as well, so all
our French team girls wanted to take a photo with him :) After the
ceremony, we accepted an invitation to the Earth Week wrap-up party,
organized by the Hendry County Recreation Department.
Earth Week celebration,
LaBelle, Apr 23-26, 2012
While the Earth Day celebration
(Apr 21) had to be called off in LaBelle this year due to potential
hazard from local storms, hundreds of children from local schools
participated in the Earth Week celebration this year. The kids visited
5 different educational stations around the Captain Hendry House
in LaBelle and learned about forest management, decomposition and
other environmental practices. Our group delivered (with help of
Dr. Cooper) a lesson about biofuels and sustainable approaches in
energy management. This has been really a rewarding experience for
all of us, since more than 1200 kids (second to fourth graders)
visited our stand over the 4 past days.
Weekend outing, Pine Island, Apr 22, 2012
While visiting different close-by
places, this time we aimed for Pine Island. Exploring wetlands and
marshes was adventurous, catching a breeze on a beach relaxing and
watching beautiful Florida sunset enlightening.
Committee" meeting, LaBelle, Apr 19, 2012
More than 40 scientists, farmers,
industry, government agencies and NGO folks attended the Community
Involvement Committee (CIC) meeting for the Hendry County Sustainable
Biofuels Center. Aim of this CIC's meeting (a very interactive one)
was to discuss ways of addressing various aspects of biofuels systems
in the Hendry County in terms of economics, farming, environment,
education and sustainability.
Seacoast National Bank, presentation by Hank Fishkind, PhD on "Economic
Outlook for the U.S., Florida and Hendry & Glades Counties",
Clewiston, Apr 17, 2012
Dr. Henry Fishkind was associate
professor of economics at the University of Florida, and Director
of the University's forecasting program. Today, he is considered
as one of Florida's premier economic consultants. Our group got
an invitation to his presentation about economic outlook for the
USA, Florida and Hendry & Glades Counties.
Universal Studios, Orlando,
Apr 14-15, 2012
Universal Studios in Orlando is
almost always on the "must-see places" list of our program
participants. So we spent both Saturday AND Sunday this past weekend
there. Rides, shows, shops, etc. And the wizarding world of Harry
Racquetball training and
"tournament", LaBelle, Apr 11, 2012
Racquetball is a racquet sport
played with a hollow rubber ball in an indoor or outdoor court.
There is an outdoor court in LaBelle and our team member Dr. Izursa
is enthusiastic racquetball player (with all the needed professional
equipment), so no wonder that he is always on the search of new
players. Nobody from our group has been able to win a match against
him so far, anyone interested to be the first?
relaxing day with paddling, Fisheating Creek, Apr 1, 2012
Fisheating Creek is a perfect
place to get up-close to nature. This Sunday we did some paddling
through the cypress swamps and hiking through the hardwood forests.
We saw really up-close alligators, turtles, wading birds and many
more animals. Picknicking afterwards in a campsite made for a perfect
and relaxing day.
Big O' Birding Festival,
LaBelle, Mar 27 - 31, 2012
Once in a year takes place in
Hendry and Glades counties (on the south shores of Lake Okeechobee)
the so called "Big O' Birding Festival". Organized tours
as well as free presentations about birding attract many visitors.
No wonder that our program participants like to join some of the
beach day, Fort Myers Beach, Mar 25, 2012
Once in a while, everyone likes
to go to a beach. The closest beach to LaBelle is Fort Myers Beach
and it always makes for a great day to go and relax there.
Riverwatch Annual Meeting
and fun day at Franklin Lock, Alva, Mar 24, 2012
CRCA/Riverwatch organized its
annual meeting and fun day at Franklin Locks South on the Caloosahatchee
River. The official part of the meeting was only short and for the
rest of the day we enjoyed the food, the beach and did even some
The Lehigh Acres Spring Festival, Lehigh Acres, Mar 23, 2012
On a Friday night, our group visited
the Lehigh Acres Spring Festival. Rides, games, shows, dances, idol
contest, food and The Nowhere (Beatles tribute band). Lots of fun
Edison State College,
presentation by Seminole Tribal member Pedro Zepeda on "Indian
Removal Act of 1830", LaBelle, Mar 22, 2012
Edison State College hosted an
interesting presentation by Pedro Zepeda, Seminole Tribal member
and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Outreach Coordinator. We learned how
the Indian Removal Act of 1830 removed thousands of Seminoles and
other Southeastern Native Tribes from theirs homelands and how they
are still affected today.
Gulf Coast University, Southwest Florida Watershed Council meeting
and a class by Professor Ed Hanlon, Fort Myers, Mar 20, 2012
Our group went to the Florida
Gulf Coast University, where it attended a meeting of the Southwest
Florida Watershed Council and also received a class delivered by
Prof. Ed Hanlon, Soil Scientist and Professor at the UF/IFAS. Prof.
Hanlon gave a presentation titled “A Partial Solution for Water
Storage and Quality Improvement in Southwest Florida.” Since he
comes to our office very often (he cooperates with us on our Biofuels
project), he surely enjoyed taking photos with our 3 new program
participants - Megan, Elodie and Aline from France.
Florida Space Coast, presenations
to Rotary clubs by III directors Dr. Capece and Mr. Fidler, Mar
Dr. Capece and Mr. Fidler (both
are III directors) delivered 7 Rotary clubs presentations during
theirs 3-day visit to the Space Coast. Dr. Capece talked about a
Rotary Future Vision grant program and how to best structure water
projects to maximize their effectiveness, Mr. Fidler talked about
his experiences gained during supervising the Rotary water projects
in Tajikistan and other developing countries. Such effort keeps
Rotarians aware about ongoing water issues in Florida as well as
in other parts of the world. Obviously, when on the Florida Atlantic
Coast, one has to find at least few hours between working in various
public libraries also for exploring the beautiful beaches.
Morning birding, LaBelle,
Mar 11, 2012
Since our group has few enthusiastic
amateur photographers, for them (and not only for them) there is
always an opportunity to just walk or bike around LaBelle and take
some great shots. This morning we focused on various birding species.
Fort Myers downtown, Mar
Our group decided to explore Fort
Myers downtown. About 40 minutes drive from LaBelle, the Downtown
district, also known as the River District, was established in 1984
as a 540-acre area stretching from the Caloosahatchee River to the
north. During the exploration walk we visited retail shops and a
restaurant, farmers' market, a new Art of the Olympians facility
and expanded marina facilities. Great afternoon!
dinner and a presentation by Tommy Strowd, Fort Myers, Mar 7, 2012
Our group joined the CRCA/Riverwatch
monthly meeting, this time held in the fancy Royal Palm Yacht Club
in Fort Myers. After a delicious dinner, Tommy Strowd, Director
of Operations in the South Florida Water Management District, delivered
a presentation on the Caloosahatchee River history and various evironmental
issues that the River and thus the whole SW Florida region face.
of the "Community Involvement Committee", LaBelle, Mar
More than 40 scientists, farmers,
industry, government agencies and NGO folks attended the Community
Involvement Committee (CIC) formation meeting for the Hendry County
Sustainable Biofuels Center. Aim of the CIC is to provide better
engagement with stakeholder groups and to serve as a sounding board
for community concerns in addressing various aspects of biofuels
systems in the Hendry County in terms of economics, farming, environment,
education and sustainability.
observation park, Fort Myers, Mar 4, 2012
Next to a power plant in Fort
Myers, there is an area where manatees can be often seen. While
we had no luck and did not observe any of these great "sea
cows", it was still a nice afternoon with a little picknick
in the observation area.
Beach afternoon &
"The Nowhere" concert in the evening, Bonita Springs,
Mar 3, 2012
Some of our team mebers decided
to spend Saturday afternoon on famous Bonita Springs Beach. Great
nature, pleasent weather, warm water of the Gulf of Mexico...simply
a great afternoon. In addition, while in Bonita Springs, we also
visited a concert of a Beatles revival band called "The Nowhere".
Live music with lots of costumes, dancing, great food...well, we
definitelly enjoyed it and might go back there soon again.
New member of our research
team - Dr. Jose-Luis Izursa, Feb 27, 2012
Our team has been joined by Dr.
Jose-Luis Izursa. While originally from Bolivia, Jose-Luis ("Pepe")
received his PhD degree in environmental science at the University
of Maryland, where he also chose to settle down and lived during
the past 10 years. However, during the next 12 months, Pepe will
help us in southwest Florida to investigate various LCA (life cycle
analysis) aspects in our Bioufuels project.
Swamp Cabbage Festival
- Armadillo Races, LaBelle, Feb 25-26, 2012
During the Swamp Cabbage Festival
took place the famous "Armadillo Races". Members of the
Rotary Club of LaBelle organize this fun event every year, when
one can bet $2 on an armadillo during a "race" for winning
a hat or doubling the money :) Over the weekend the Rotary Club
collected over $7500 that will be used for sponsoring various educational,
social and other service projects.
Swamp Cabbage Festival,
LaBelle, Feb 25-26, 2012
On the weekend Feb 25 - 26, 2012
took place in LaBelle the annual Swamp Cabbage Festival. Intelligentsia
International program participants had a chance to experience a
typical American festival, started with a parade and followed for
the whole weekend by entertaining events related to rodeo, food,
arts, crafts, high school bands, Miss Swamp Cabbage content, etc.
"Night On The Town",
LaBelle, Feb 21, 2012
On Feb 21, 2012, from 5 pm to
8 pm, the third annual "LaBelle Night On The Town" on Ft. Thompson
Avenue took place. Intelligentsia International volunteers helped
to set up a stand for Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association
(CRCA) and also enjoyed visiting various vendors stands.
around LaBelle, Feb 20, 2012
is an annual event, when members of the Rotary Club of LaBelle go
together with the Intelligentsia International program participants
and other friends to "hunt" armadillos. The caught animals then
compete in so called "Armadillo races" as part of the local Swamp
Cabbage Festival. Capturing the contestants with nets makes for
a fun afternoon. The creatures are returned unharmed to their homes
after the races.
Agricultural Expo, Clewiston,
Feb 17, 2012
Second Annual South Florida Agricultural
Expo, in conjunction with Annual Sugarland Heavy Equipment Auction
took place in Clewiston on Feb 17, 2012. Florida Commissioner of
Agriculture, Adam Putnam, was among the main speakers, so Intelligentsia
International program participants had a chance to listen to his
keynote and get better understanding of agriculture related issues
in south Florida. Also, visiting some of the equipment auctions
was an unique experience.