W.I.L.D. Ambassador, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Marquese Fluellen does not have the schedule of a typical high school student, but he has worked hard to claim it as his own. In addition to being a multiple-sport athlete, participating in soccer, cross country, and tennis, Marquese is also dedicated to saving plants and animals in the wild.
In 2016, Marquese, was inducted into the inaugural year of the Wildlife Immersion and Leadership Development (W.I.L.D.) Program, a city-partnered Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens program to address teen engagement and environmental literacy. Marquese both transformed the program into a stronger community resource and was personally instrumental in leading the program to award-winning heights. To date, the W.I.L.D. Program has won awards on the state level from The Florida State Department and the Division of Cultural Affairs and Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc., as well as on the national level from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Over the 2016/2017 year, Marquese has become the face of his community and a voice for the environment. He has trained to be a junior horticulturist; helping create, construct and start the W.I.L.D. Garden Project which will deliver organically grown fruits and veggies to the local homeless shelters. Marquese also created an outreach program, Snack Attack, through which he and his peers deliver to the neighborhoods that have been influential in their lives and to schools that are predominately African-American. He is also a certified animal trainer and environmental educator, dedicated to challenging the stigmas within his community surrounding animals, plants and their importance to the ecosystem.
Today, you can find Marquese recruiting teens from neighborhoods like his for the W.I.L.D Program or spearheading an invasive plant removal at the local beach. Tomorrow, he could be teaching his neighbors how to “Take Action” in saving salamanders or training a hyacinth macaw for an educational presentation. Nevertheless, every day, Marquese is deliberate in showcasing that representation and inclusion matters.
“Take Action, even if it’s a little. Because a little bit of this can make a whole lot of that. And THAT is what will preserve our environment.” – Marquese Fluellen