Wildflower Wayside Shrine Trail is Dedicated
South Florida Community College’s Wildflower Wayside Shrine Trail came into existence through a partnership between the college, Archbold Biological Station, and the community. Representing the many contributors at the trail’s formal dedication on Wednesday are Dr. William Gregory (left), SFCC biology professor; Don Appelquist, executive director of the SFCC Foundation, Inc.; Mollie Doctrow, artist and curator of the SFCC Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC); Dr. Eric Menges, senior research program director and research biologist for Archbold Biological Station; and Dr. Norman Stephens Jr., SFCC president.
The latest addition to South Florida Community College’s Highlands Campus – the Wildflower Wayside Shrine Trail – was formally dedicated Wednesday evening.
Located off College Drive, the walking trail extends approximately 7/10ths of a mile through pristine scrubland on the SFCC Highlands Campus and showcases the rare native plants of the Lake Wales Ridge ecosystem. The project was conceived about five years ago and came to fruition through the joint efforts of SFCC, the SFCC Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC), Archbold Biological Station, SFCC students, and many community supporters. Significant grant funding was provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences with additional sponsorship from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
Mollie Doctrow, curator of SFCC MOFAC, conceived the trail from her own exploration of the natural world and from the indigenous shrine boxes she encountered while studying the culture of India. She selected the location because of its concentration of pygmy fringe trees, which bloom spectacularly in the spring, and created six shrine boxes that depict native plants found along the trail. Dr. Eric Menges, Archbold’s chief plant biologist, identified plants and helped write the trail guide, “Wildflower Wayside Shrine Trail Flora.”
Although the trail opened last March, some components had yet to be added. The trail is now complete and open to individuals, students, and groups for reflection, study, and guided tours. Already, Doctrow is looking at the possibility of expanding the trail into two adjacent ecosystems.
“The amazing thing was that it actually came together here, in this community, in this habitat with support from this college and our sponsors,” Doctrow said. “We had this dedication now to officially acknowledge the trail opening as part of the community and the Highlands Campus. I want more people to be aware of this as a resource, to take advantage of it and use it in ways I never thought of.”
“It’s inspirational,” said Dr. Norman Stephens Jr., SFCC president. “I can’t think of a better word. We’ve been very aggressive in pursuing grant funding and have been very successful. It’s been a marvelous project.”
For more information, visit the trail’s Web site or call SFCC MOFAC at 784-7240.