Community Engagement for a Sustainable Future

At FIU, our goal is to inspire the next generation and immerse the greater South Florida community in our solutions-based work designed to conserve and promote sustainable use of the world's terrestrial ecosystems and protect all LIFE ON LAND.

Securing a Future for the Florida Everglades

Researchers in FIU’s Institute of Environment are leading the science behind one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects on the planet — the Florida Everglades. The Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program, one of 28 sites in the National Science Foundation's long-term research network, is a multidisciplinary collaboration of universities and government agencies. Researchers are examining how climate change and disturbances interact with shifting management of this iconic and imperiled ecosystem.

Explore FIU's educational opportunities for Land Conservation

Florida International University offers a broad range of educational opportunities to support a more sustainable future for Life on Land. This includes degree programs, citizen science intiatives, K-12 enrichment programs for school children, community learning events and professional training opportunities. Explore all FIU has to offer.

Everglades Outreach Team

FIU scientists lead an Outreach Team that provides free community programs to expand environmental literacy and participate in current science initiatives related to the Florida Everglades. This team also collaborates with the local arts community to engage new audiences in conversations about protecting the Everglades and offers research experiences for local school teachers and high school students.

Learn about Everglades Outreach

CASE Education Outreach Team

FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education connects lifelong learners with real university research through its Education Outreach Team. We provide a range of experiences, from at-home activities to community events, summer camps and more. We maintain collaborative partnerships with corporations and community organizations and offer volunteer service opportunities.

Learn about the Ed Outreach Team

Miami-Dade Environmental Education

FIU has received a grant from Miami-Dade County for Environmental Education to support an accelerated education initiative and promote stewardship among local residents and businesses. Our team in the Institute of Environment works directly with communities, linking top scientists, educators, students and municipal leaders to develop sustainable solutions.

Learn about the Miami-Dade effort

Nile Talk Forums

An outgrowth of FIU's International Conference on the Nile and Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the Nile Talk Forums bring together experts in Nile and other transboundary river issues of the world to discuss experiences in diffusing tensions, sharing the common good, and building trust. The goal is to provide data-driven solutions for improved collaboration and cooperation.

Learn more about the forums

Environmental Education in Haiti

In partnership with the Jardin Botanique des Cayes, the National Botanic Garden of the Dominican Republic and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, FIU is providing research and education programs for plant conservation in Hispaniola, particularly focused on endemic Haitian species. The project focuses on capacity building opportunities for botanists and environmental biologists in Haiti.

Learn more about FIU biodiversity education in the Caribbean

Environmental History and Big Cypress

Logged forests harbor potential for restoration of rare and economically important species, and ecosystem services like carbon storage. With Big Cypress National Preserve, FIU researchers are conducting a pilot study on forest recovery using GIS analyses and archival documents to understand pre-disturbance conditions. They are collaborating with CASE Education Outreach and Coral Gables Museum to create a community education program about environmental history and historic resource management.

Learn more about forest recovery project 

International Center for Tropical Botany at The Kampong

The FIU International Center for Tropical Botany is a research and education center that offers community programming on preservation of tree canopies, improving pollination, combatting plant extinction and more. The center is surrounded by a living laboratory of native plants.

Learn more about ICTB

Grove ReLeaf

Grove ReLeaf is improving local understanding of the canopy composition of Coconut Grove, Fla. The program determines the eco-benefits associated with trees and valuates tree canopies. Using a web-based application, our team measures and identifies trees in public areas and we work with community groups interested in gaining plant identification and inventory skills to contribute to our data. We have added more than 2,000 trees to our inventory while training volunteers and advancing botany education. 

Learn more about Grove ReLeaf

Nature Preserve

The FIU Nature Preserve is an 11-acre environmental education and recreation green space. It features walking trails and historic geologic formations throughout its three distinct ecosystems and provides habitat for 13 endangered plants, 15 threatened plants, and another 238 plants and animals that call the preserve home.

Learn more about the Nature Preserve


FIU features one of the largest university collections of palm trees in the United States. What began as a reforestation effort after Hurricane Andrew has grown into a showcase of the great diversity that exists within the palm family. Our campus, which is open to the public, features more than 60 species of palm trees along with educational signage throughout. 

Learn about the Palmetum's history

Mangrove Forest

FIU's Biscayne Bay Campus is surrounded by mangrove forests on the north, northeast, and west, and the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve on the south and southeast. For more than a decade, FIU has led the Adopt a Mangrove initiative, planting thousands of mangroves here and throughout South Florida with members of the university community, schoolchildren from nearby schools and local community volunteers.

Learn about Adopt a Mangrove

Butterfly Gardens

On FIU's campuses, butterfly gardens provide refuge, sustenance and and place to lay eggs for the important pollinators. Many of the gardens have been planted with the help of community volunteers and attract a variety of species including monarchs, queens, sulphurs and atalas. Educational signage and community garden cleanup events are designed to educate the public about the importance of native plants and pollinators.

Learn more about butterfly garden plantings

Trees of FIU

Since FIU was founded, trees have been planted across our campuses including a forest of native tree species at the FIU Nature Preserve contributing to more than 10,000 trees on one campus alone. As a part of a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services funded project, researchers are doing an inventory of the trees on the FIU campuses to understand the species diversity and their value to humans and the environment.

Explore our tree inventory

Alleviating Plant Blindness 

Plant blindness is the widespread lack of awareness of plants in one’s environment. FIU researchers have developed educational initiatives at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to identify and alleviate plant blindness among freshman undergraduate students, helping our future work force value plant services, research and conservation. Preliminary results have led to an NSF-funded project for educational actions that includes other universities and botanic gardens in the United States.

Learn more about alleviate plant blindness

Did you Know?

FIU offers an International Research Experience that is open to university students from anywhere in the United States. Providing high-quality research and professional development opportunities in wildlife conservation and ecology, the program focuses on endangered parrots, whales and dolphins. It includes a six-week paid internship in the Small Island Developing State of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Learn more about IRES

  • Degree Programs

    FIU provide hands-on instruction for students interested in careers supporting sustainable Life on Land. This includes a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability and the Environment and degree programs focused on biology, botany, environmental science, agroecology and chemistry. The university also offers degrees in Global Sustainable Tourism, environmental engineering, politics and international relations, public policy and administration, and other related fields.

    Learn more about FIU degree programs

  • Academic Offerings

    With more than 270 courses offered that specifically focus on Life on Land, FIU students have the opportunity to grow their knowledge of ecosystems, biodiversity, agriculture, conservation and more. In addition, FIU's Global Learning for Global Citizenship requires every undergraduate student to take at least two global learning courses as part of their degree program. Among the classes offered, many are related to issues impacting Life on Land. 

    2023-2024 Course Catalog

Empowering Citizen Scientists for a Common Goal

FIU researchers in the Institute of the Environment are creating opportunities for members of the community to participate in current research initiatives. As a university focused on solutions-centered research, this is one of the greatest ways we educate and collaborate with the public toward the common goal of preserving and protecting LIFE ON LAND. Learn more about some of the projects below.

Explore FIU's citizen science initiatives

Citizen science projects allow FIU to significantly expand our data collection abilities while also expanding environmental literacy in our communities. Scroll through to see some of our current projects.

Coastal Angler Science Team

FIU researchers have created a stakeholder science program called CAST — Coastal Angler Science Team — to engage anglers in fisheries research. Tapping into angler knowledge and their records of catches, our scientists examine how fishing relates to freshwater management and potential effects of Everglades restoration on recreational angling. CAST is also equipping local anglers with pit tag readers, datasheets and maps to document their catches, helping our research on fish survival in varied conditions.

Learn about CAST


The Florida Coastal Everglades LTeaER decomposition project is a citizen science effort to calculate soil decomposition rates. Based on the TeaBag Index, LTeaERbags have been deployed at 11 research sites in the Everglades and are collected quarterly, dried and weighed to calculate soil decomposition. In collaboration with the Everglades Foundation and FIUteach, the data is informing Everglades ecology and supporting school science fair projects. It is shared internationally through the TeaBag Index.

Learn about our work in the Everglades

Lizards on the Loose

Started by an FIU Ph.D. student, the Lizards on the Loose project enlists schoolchildren throughout Miami-Dade County to help collect scientific data on populations on native and invasive lizard populations. Since its inception, more than 20,000 schoolchildren from more than 100 area schools have contributed lizard identification data through iNaturalist.

Read about Lizards on the Loose

Citizen Science for the Amazon

As a part of the Citizen Science for the Amazon project, FIU is working with more than 20 organizations across South America helping answer questions about where fish migrate and what the environmental conditions are in those areas. To track fish, project partners work closely with local fishermen. As they go fishing, the fishermen enter the species they come across in a mobile app. The information automatically enters a centralized database that tracks the fish in real-time.

Learn more about FIU's Tropical Rivers Lab

Sea Level Solutions Day

Seasonal King Tides (the highest of the high tides) cause major flooding in our urban Miami community. Our Sea Level Solutions Center, in collaboration with several partners, hosts yearly events to collect sea level rise data through citizen science flood reporting. This information is aggregated and deposited into a living database used to verify frequency and extent of urban flooding in Miami. The data will inform adaptation solutions to increasing sea level rise concerns for vulnerable communities.

Learn about Sea Level Solutions

Miami Plastic Patrol

Miami Plastic Patrol is a citizen science initiative to quantify and raise awareness of microplastic pollution in the Biscayne Bay watershed. This project is creating a baseline for water quality policies to eventually manage and reduce microplastics in South Florida waterways. Partnering organizations and institutions obtain their own citizen science kit, collect and analyze water samples, and upload their data into the free, open-source EpiCollect5 app. 

Visit the Miami Plastic Patrol site

Miami-Dade Environmental Education

FIU has received a grant from Miami-Dade County for Environmental Education to support an accelerated education initiative and promote stewardship among local residents and businesses. Our team in the Institute of Environment works directly with communities, linking top scientists, educators, students and municipal leaders to develop sustainable solutions.

Learn about the Miami-Dade effort

Did you know?

An effort led by FIU students in the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management diverted more than 43 tons of waste at the 2023 South Beach Food and Wine Festival including 47,960 pounds for recycling, 14,300 for composting and 23,867 pounds of rescued food, which was donated to local homeless shelters. More than just waste diversion, the students engaged festival-goers in best practices to help leave the beach as clean as they found it. Learn more about this hospitality green team

Community Education for Sustainable Agriculture and Tourism

Because South Florida is both an international tourist destination and major agriculture hub, FIU has developed programs focused on sustainable land-use to restore and preserve LIFE ON LAND. This includes academic degree programs as well as community-focused initiatives and events. Scroll through to see how FIU supports sustainable management of land.

Agroecology Program

FIU's Agroecology program focuses on building a sustainable farm community. Students explore current issues including regional water allocation conflicts, urban-rural conflicts, community foodsheds, and geospatial analysis of agricultural resources and system impacts. Offering undergraduate and graduate degrees, the Agroecology Program is preparing a future work force for food production, agricultural sciences and natural resource management.

Learn about Agroecology at FIU

Global Sustainable Tourism

A unique program combining FIU's environmental scientists and hospitality experts, the Bachelor's Degree in Global Sustainable Tourism is preparing the future hospitality work force to become leaders in sustainable tourism practices. The program focuses on creating a more resilient tourism industry by protecting the natural resources that the industry relies on.

Learn about Global Sustainable Tourism

Farmers Outreach Program

The Veterans, Youth and Special Need Agriculturists Assistance Program at FIU empowers small and underrepresented farmers in urban sustainable agriculture, as well as beginning farmers who are interested in starting their own business. This program is geared towards assisting veterans, small farmers, minorities, and the socially disadvantaged by offering hands-on farming experience through apprenticeships, agricultural-related workshops, and technical one-on-one advice on USDA loans/grant programs.

Learn about farmer outreach

Food Forests

Urban food forests have become popular as food security projects, but they can also substantially increase other important ecosystem services like carbon storage, watershed protection, and cooling from increased canopy cover. In partnership with The Education Fund, FIU manages research and outreach projects in several food forests at local schools. Results from the food forest projects contribute directly to ongoing teacher workshops and our understanding of pesticide-free food production systems in this subtropical climate.

Learn about FIU's food forest project

Organic Garden

At the FIU Organic Garden, students gain experiential learning about food production and its relationship to the ecosystem through gardening and plotted experiments. Recognized by USDA as South Florida's first People's Garden, this hands-on teaching facility is used for both university instruction and community engagement. It contains nine distinct areas for research and education: shade house, class plots, community plots, herb garden, fruit grove, meditation gardening, composting, biofuels and aquaponics.

Learn about FIU's Organic Garden