02/23/2012 06:04 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2012

Miami Beach Unveils Multi-Faceted, Eye-Opening Public Art Project

Collaboration with Wyland brings students and community together in the name of art and conservation!

Coined as the "Marine Michelangelo," artist and conservationist Wyland has without a doubt earned the moniker. Boasting 100 monumental marine murals in 80 cities, of which the largest spans an impressive two miles in Beijing, Wyland's public works are viewed by an estimated one billion people each year. His unique contributions to the worlds of public and environmental art are unparalleled.

When I had the good fortune of meeting the renowned environmental artist in Key West during Fantasy Fest, I was struck by his accessibility and amenability to an idea I had -- after seeing his larger-than-life aquatic mural in Beijing, I was inspired and knew that Miami Beach could benefit from collaborating with Wyland. His public works yield far-reaching dividends in the arenas of community building, art, public education and environmental awareness. Just a few months later, and after a series of constructive conversations with the artist, we're on the heels of launching The Wyland Project, a multi-faceted initiative for the city of Miami Beach.

With the support, guidance and resources of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Arts and Culture Council, The Wyland Project has been fleshed out and formalized. Composed of a series of educational and celebratory events and activities, the program kicks off with the involvement of students from six Miami Beach elementary schools. The students will partake in a two-pronged workshop that blends the arts with science in an effort to further their appreciation for the environment. The science component involves rainwater harvesting through the use of barrels, which will be decorated with a Wyland-inspired design in the students' art classes. Rainwater will be collected throughout the month of April and reused to irrigate the school's gardens.

On May 3 and 4, students will work alongside Wyland himself, to create and paint two distinct 10-by-45-foot murals illustrating our local aquatic habitat and their inhabitants -- coral reefs, mangroves, manatees, dolphins and sea turtles. The murals will be available for sale, at $50,000 apiece, with the funds going to programs that support the environment, public education and the arts. To that end, signed lithographs of the murals along with branded t-shirts will also be sold to raise funds.

The two-day event will be open to the public and include a press conference and ceremony. In addition, The Wyland Foundation will announce the winners of the National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation, whereby participants in the winning cities will be eligible to win prizes, including a Toyota Prius Hybrid and home water makeover kits.

The Wyland Project will communicate an important environmental message, while inspiring us all to protect the marine treasures that make our quality of life so special -- and which helps make South Florida such a desirable destination for visitors from around the world.

It's our collective responsibility to protect our environment, and instill in our children a shared sense of purpose in doing so. By planting the seeds of environmental stewardship, we will ensure the health and welfare of our unique coastal community.