The South Florida Community College Museum of Florida Art and Culture is partnering with Archbold Biological Station to present its first outdoor environmental art and science exhibition, Nine Natives: Wildflower Wayside Shrine, located on College Drive opposite the SFCC Highlands Campus. The exhibition features a walking trail through the scrub habitat with shrine boxes installed along the way. Each shrine box is dedicated to an endemic or endangered plant species found on the Lake Wales Ridge. The project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The trail takes between 20 and 30 minutes to walk and is clearly marked by signs created by SFCC’s Intermediate Computer Graphics students. Trail maps are located in a shrine box located outside of SFCC MOFAC. Each shrine box contains information on the plant it features as well as a book in which visitors can write their own observations. Visitors to the trail can also make rubbings from the shrine box covers. The trail will be open to the public daily.

Mollie Doctrow, SFCC MOFAC curator, decided to create the exhibit after hearing about the scrub habitat located on the SFCC Highlands Campus. “I had been working in scrub habitat for a couple of years and have since come to appreciate its different kind of beauty,” she said. “My hope is that this project brings attention to conserving and preserving it. It also presents a wonderful opportunity to take art outside of the museum and create an interactive exhibit.” SFCC student and Archbold Biological Station volunteer Chris Jennings is tracking and recording plants, animals, and insects found along the trail using GPS coordinates. So far, seven endangered and/or threatened plants have been located along the trail.

An indoor group exhibition featuring artists Reed Bowman, David Price, John Moran, Mark Deyrup, Carlton Ward Jr., and Doctrow will also be held inside SFCC MOFAC honoring these plants. The exhibition and trail opens to the public with a reception on Thursday, March 17, 12:30-4:30 p.m. in SFCC MOFAC. Scientists from Archbold Biological Station will identify the flora and fauna endemic to the Lake Wales Ridge, and author Carol Mahler will read passages from Florida literature that highlight features of the scrub habitat. “A place becomes sacred when people stop and take the time to notice what is around them,” said Doctrow. “The exhibition is a chance for those in the community to learn about and appreciate what is living just outside their backdoors.”

Other sponsors include the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Laurie and Norm Stephens, Anne and Charles Reynolds, Highlands Today, and Salute to the Arts.