Pine Rockland Postcards

Pine Rockland Postcards

These images and text were entries in the 2009 Fairchild Challenge postcard contest.

Madison Bec -South Miami K8                                              CONGRATULATIONS, FIRST PLACE WINNER!

Dear Commissioner Gimenez,

My name is Madison Bec and I am writing to encourage you to conserve the Pine Rockland areas. I would like for you to encourage the conservation of the Saw Palmetto in the Pine Rocklands. The Saw Palmetto has been around for ages. It was a food for the Native Americans and it is used for medication for various illnesses. The Saw Palmetto is a significant part of the environment. Without it, the food chain of the eco-system would be missing an important link.

I am enrolled at South Miami K-8 Center and study Computer Art Technology (C@T) in the secondary school magnet. As part of the Fairchild Challenge, I have created a postcard about the Saw Palmetto that I would like to share with you. I made this postcard using Photoshop and Printshop Programs. Learning about the environment while using my artistic vision makes learning fun!

Please take a minute to write back to me and tell me what you think.

    Madison Bec


Hee-Young Kim - Eugenia B Thomas K-8                                                                       HONORABLE MENTION

Dear Jose "PePe" Diaz,

Hello!  I'm Hee-Young Kim, who is 7th grade in Eugenia B. Thomas.  I chose Key Deer because I heard from my teacher that key deers are smaller than other deers and are endangered.  So I got interested in key deer, and I researched about it.  Key Deer is a important part of the Pine Rockland Ecosystem because key deer is the flagship for a whole fleet of species in Pine Rocklands.  Also, things that are good for key deers such as clean water can also benefit local folks who live in key deer habitat.

Mr. "PePe" Diaz?  Could you help conserving pine rockland areas?  There are many endangered species, and if they really exterminate, the ecosystem will be damaged.  Also won't you be sad if you can't see the endangered species anymore?

So please help conserving pine rockland areas, and thank you.










Polina Abratenko - ACES                                                                                      HONORABLE MENTION

Dear Dade County Commissioner,       

Preserving our Floridian Pine Rocklands is very important!  There are many animals that live in this habitat that could get wiped out with the extinction of the Pine Rocklands, including the Florida Panther.  If the plants of the Florida Pine Rocklands die out, then the herbivores that feast on these plants will die out.  The Florida Panthers depend on these herbivores to survive.  The Florida Panther is already endangered, anyways!  It is an important animal because it keeps the population of herbivores steady.  The Florida Panther is also the mascot of our hockey team!  Please consider my request to save the pine rocklands.  Think of the Florida Panthers.


Polina Abratenko

Samuel Maloyed - Coral Way K-8                                   HONORABLE MENTION 

Dear County Commissioner,

One of the main reasons the Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is important to the Pine Rockland ecosystem is because it feeds hundreds of butterflies.  So if we terminate this plant many species of butterfly will become extinct, and if butterflies die the whole food chain becomes scrambled.  So as butterflies die birds will die and owls will be limited to what they can eat which means the rat population will increase.  Most people don't like rats.  The Butterfly weed is also very beautiful.  The Butterfly weed is also part of the milkweed family.  The vibrantly colored clusters are what attract so many butterflies and several species of hummingbirds.  The Butterfly weed produces a scanty milky juice, for all we know this scanty milky juice could lead to cures and medicines for different illnesses.  So County Commissioner I truly believe that the Butterfly weed is a truly remarkable plant and that this plant is a big part of the Pine Rockland ecosystem and with it the ecosystem would be totally out of shape.


 Samuel Maloyed   

Gabrielle Phillips - Herbert A Ammons                                      HONORABLE MENTION

Dear Mr. Dennis C. Moss,

I am writing to urge you that Florida's natural habitats are at risk.  The Pine Rockland is home to many varieties of native Floridian Species, including the Florida Key Deer.  The Florida Key Deer is the smallest race of North American Deer.  The Florida Key Deer have been an endangered species since 1955.

The female Florida Key Deer averages only about 1 fawn per year, which is a relatively low reproductive rate.  And many fawn don't make it for very long.  Many fall into drainage ditches and are hit by cars.

Monroe County, Florida is the area in which the Key Deer live.  More than two-thirds of the Florida Key Deer population is supported by No Name Key (998 acres) and Big Pine Key (5,997 acres).  A male Florida Key Deer has a home range that averages 299 acres and increases during breeding season.  As you can see, the Key Deer are living in a cramped society already and by destroying the pine Rocklands, we will be forcing them to live closer than ever to the human populace.  Studies are showing us that Key Deer choose their habitat in the following order of preference: pinelands, hardwood hammocks, buttonwood-scrub mangrove, mangrove swamp, and developed areas.  Many Florida Key Deer are already accustomed to humans and live very close to them.

Florida Key Deer are suffering from loss of habitat to development.  Other harmful factors that put the Florida Key Deer in danger are: free roaming dogs attack the Key Deer, cars hitting Key Deer, and many younger deer fall into drainage ditches.  As you can see, the Florida Key Deer need your help, along with so many other native species.  If we get rid of the Pine Rockland, the Florida Key Deer will have no place to go; they will soon go extinct.           


Gabrielle Phillips

Javier Soler - H.A. Ammons                                                                         HONORABLE MENTION

Dear Mr. Dennis C. Moss,

 I am writing to urge you to urge not to cut down the beautiful pine rocklands. If you do, many amazing and already endangered animals like the Swallow Tailed Kite will be forever destroyed. This is a magnificent bird that comes to our South Florida area every year during their breeding season. The pine rocklands are the only place where these beautiful birds breed. The females only give birth to 1 or 2 swallows a year, and there are only a few hundred left in North America. The Swallow Tailed Kite birds used to live all over, but their numbers have been reduced due to deforestation. Now, their only place to live is in the pine rocklands habitats.

Furthermore, these birds are so impressive and unique, that tourists from Georgia, Texas, and Minnesota, among other states, come to see them every year. The sad reality is that the Swallow Tailed Kite birds are no longer found in those places anymore, for the reasons stated above. Additionally, many animals hide from predators using the nest that these birds make. So once again, I urge you to please don't eliminate the pine rockland habitats because if you do, these beautiful birds and many others will eventually die.


 Javier Soler



Andy Pereira - Kinloch Park                                                        HONORABLE MENTION

Mr. Commissioner,

My name is Andy Pereira and I am 12 years old. I write you this letter because I am worried about our environment and nature. I chose the Big Cypress Fox Squirrel or (Sciurus niger aviccenia) because this little animal helps the rockland pines and other plants grow. When a Fox Squirrel burr the seed of the rockland pines, it grows. It is like a cycle because the Fox Squirrel helps the rockland pines, the rockland pines serve as a home for the Fox Squirrel.

Nature is our treasure, and I am asking you to join us to preserve our environment.




Pablo Hernandez - Miami Springs                                             HONORABLE MENTION

Dear Commissioner,

As you may be well aware of, pine rocklands are globally endangered ecosystems. When the habitats animals make in the pine rocklands are destroyed, those animals lose their homes and eventually become endangered. That is why I am writing to you today. We should conserve the pine rockland areas as best as we possibly can. Let us take for example the marvelous flower known as the Beautyberry. Back then, the Miccosukee would use the fruit of the Beautyberry to treat certain kinds of diseases. Today, we are currently destroying them, and all of the birds and animals that live off of them, like the mockingbird, are forced to find something else. Why can't we conserve the wonderful areas, like it was back then? Please commissioner, hear my request.

Awaiting your response,

Pablo Hernandez

Savannah Kodish - Norland Middle                                              HONORABLE MENTION

Dear County Commissioner,

I chose the Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) as the subject on my postcard design. The Beautyberry is an important part of the pine rockland ecosystem of South Florida because its unique purple fruits provide an important food source to birds. It is also a habitat for animals that are native to the pine rocklands of South Florida. The Beautyberry is a shrub that is 4-8 ft. with insignificant flowers and needs to be protected. Please help to conserve our precious pine rockland areas.

Thank you,

Savannah Kodish



Harrison Nguyen - Ransom Everglades                                                                    HONORABLE MENTION

Dear Commissioner Joe A. Martinez,

My name is Harrison Nguyen and I am participating in the Fairchild Challenge, an environmental program designed to give junior school students the opportunity to shine in their talents and, at the same time, allow them to explore the environmental problems of the world. I have chosen a very important animal that lives within the Pine Rocklands of Florida. The Florida Panther is a very beautiful and fast predator that helps out in the cycle of life and food chain that occurs in the Pine Rocklands. Its population within Florida is diminishing, with only 80-100 left. It is also at the top of the food chain to help retain the population of smaller animals. Without the Florida Panther, there would be a more than abundant amount of their prey roaming around, such as deer and wild hogs. These animals would then become the dominant species, encroaching upon more land and also loss of many other animals or plants. Then, after their "food" is gone, they will either abandon the Pine Rocklands or die out, completely causing the destruction of the Pine Rocklands. This must be prevented by spending more money on animal conservation programs such as preserving more land within the Pine Rocklands and raising the Florida Panther and releasing them in the wild later. Please try your best to conserve the habitat and the population of the Florida Panther. This would be very appreciated by everyone who enjoys the beauty of the Pine Rocklands and other Natural Habitats of Florida.

With all due respect,

Harrison Nguyen


Genesis Charles - Shenandoah Middle                                  HONORABLE MENTION

Dear County Commissioner,

Have you ever heard of the coontie plant (Zamia intergrifolia)? Well it just happens to be the one and only home to the Atala butterfly larva. The bright orange and yellow spotted caterpillar's home is becoming endangered! The pine rockland habitat, where the coontie grows, is being cut down to make room for our increasing local population. Pine rocklands grow out of the limestone bedrock that makes up South Florida. Rainwater is filtered through all of the slash pine trees and underbrush and continues its filtration down through the limestone and into our aquifer. This ecosystem used to be abundant, but continues to be cleared for housing developments, parking lots, and more roads! Where are we going to get fresh water when they are gone?

The Atala (Eumaeus atala) is just one example that enriches our local flora and fauna; we can't let them go to waste. We need you, Commissioner, to help conserve this natural treasure. We need everyone to come together to spread the word; conserve South Florida's pine rockland reservations and protect this unique habitat for the future.

The Coontie plant and the Atala caterpillar need you, please protect us!


Genesis Charles

Jessica Posada - Shenandoah Middle                                     HONORABLE MENTION

Dear County Commissioner,

 When was the last time that you pulled off the highway to indulge in your beautiful surroundings?  Well there is one type of habitat that you will be seeing less and less of and that's the pine rockland habitat in South Florida, which happens to be our home too!  The pine rocklands are disappearing because our government officials continue to allow the elimination of this precious natural habitat to make room for our growing and overcrowded city, with total disregard for the ecosystems that are being destroyed.  My artwork depicts the Bartram's Scrub-Hairstreak butterfly (strymon acis) resting on an Indian Blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella) which are two examples of the vibrant treasures that we are going to lose if our community decision makers don't wake up and take action before it is too late!  The pine rockland was once an abundant habitat and home to many creatures and plants that are suffering because their home is being destroyed.  Their populations are decreasing everyday and they can not survive without our help.  Please, county commissioner, help conserve, preserve, and protect our pine rockland reserves so there can be a bright future for not only the Indian Blanket and the Bartram's scrub Hairstreak butterfly, but for us to enjoy in the future too.  Thank you.

One concerned Student,

Jessica Posada, Shenandoah Middle     

Jacqueline Almanza - Coral Way K-8                                         HONORABLE MENTION

Dear Commissioner Katy Sorenson,

I am writing this letter to you because I just learned how important the Pine Rocklands are to our environment. I am working on this project as part of the Fairchild Challenge. This is a chance for students to get involved in an effort to save the environment. This project is important because destroying the environment takes away ways to create medicines, save animals, and reduces the flower species for the habitat.

I'm writing to you because I've heard that you have a great concern for environmental issues. I hope you'll write back to me with any ideas you have that will help me in my cause to save Pine Rocklands. Let me tell you a little bit about myself: I'm Jacqueline Almanza. I'm 12 years old and I'm attending South Miami K-8 as a 7th grader. I love to draw, and use the computer.

I hope you'll write back to me with any ideas you have that will help me in my cause to save Pine Rocklands. I've also included a drawing of my Rock Pinelands Project. I hope to hear from you soon,


Jacqueline Almanza

Michael Lantigua - Vineland K-8                                       HONORABLE MENTION

Dear Katie Sorenson,

The Florida (Matecumbe) Tree Snail, being very small, is often harmed. Most people do not look at trees or rocks, but if you closely, you might be able to see them. The main problem is that they are running out of places to live. Most children knock them down and squash them when they play along trees. At least most creatures don't eat them unless they're very hungry. Please preserve the Pine Rockland ecosystem. If you care about these creatures, then speak up to Save the Snail!


Michael Lantigua

Juan Osorio - Doral Middle                                                        HONORABLE MENTION

Dear County Commissioner Diaz,

I'm writing to you as a proud student of Doral Middle School, expressing valuable reasons for preserving Pine Rocklands. I chose to illustrate the Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus floridanus) because this species represents the Rockland ecosystem well. Being a top predator of this area, the Gray Fox maintains the population of its prey and creates balance in its environment. The Gray Fox caught my attention because I thought it was impressive, and a perfect choice for a postcard. Pine Rocklands should be preserved for it provides a habitat for many diverse plants and animals, including my favorite, the Gray Fox.

Thank you for your time,

 Juan Osorio

Gissel Ramirez - North Miami Middle                                       HONORABLE MENTION

To the County Commissioner,

Hello, my name is Gissel Ramirez and I am a student at North Miami Middle School. I think it is important to save our animals of South Florida because soon one day when we have kids, our kids won't be able to see a Polar Bear or a fascinating flower it will just be a myth to them as some think that dinosaurs never roamed the face of the earth. And the animal that I think that is most important is the Florida panther or also known as Puma concolor, I chose that animal because only a few of them are left and when I say a few I mean about 50% or so is what I'm saying, and are ecosystem is what is trying to survive and provide some food service for them but obviously that isn't working out well what we also need to save is the Pine Rocklands here in Florida which is one of their natural habitat resources and I believe that they live there and raise their young and teach them how to become as good as they are to survive and continue on in their path in life and teaching their cubs to do the same so pleas try to help out and save the animals of South Florida.


Gissel Ramirez