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It’s another year of fun, facts and fascination at county preserves | Environment

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It’s another year of fun, facts and fascination at county preserves
Environment, Events, News
It’s another year of fun, facts and fascination at county preserves

Pinellas County, Florida -- Here some fun outdoor events happening at Weedon Island Preserve and Brooker Creek Preserve:

Weedon Island Preserve

Weedon Island Preserve continues the numerous opportunities available for hikers. Each Saturday in January hikers can learn about the ecosystems and early residents of the preserve while hiking the coastal uplands and boardwalks through mangrove forests. This two-hour hike, beginning at 9 a.m. is best for ages 6 and older. Advance registration required.

Participants are encouraged to hike the preserve on Saturday, Jan. 18 in search of that perfect photo. This 8 to 10 a.m. hike provides great opportunities for photographers of all levels to hone their skills. After a brief classroom session, preserve volunteers highlight seasonal features of the preserve, as well as specific wildlife behaviors that help participants capture the natural beauty of Weedon Island Preserve.

On Saturday, Jan. 4, this one-hour overview class will familiarize the group with the Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™. The class will be taught by Brian Niemann, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ extension agent. Attendees will receive a copy of The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook, a 50-page guide providing detailed information about designing and maintaining a Florida-friendly landscape. This free one-hour class beginning at 10 a.m. is recommended for ages 10 and older.

Weather ready? On Saturday, Jan. 11 from 10 to 11 a.m., National Weather Service’s emergency response meteorologist Rick Davis will provide a weather presentation designed to increase Tampa Bay's weather readiness. The region should always be prepared to protect, mitigate, respond to and recover from weather related disasters and extreme weather. Learn about a new NWS initiative to produce a weather ready nation and find out about new NWS’s products and services.

The rchaeology lecture series continues on Thursday, Jan. 16 featuring stories about pirates, Protestants, militia and Miskitu and the royalization of Roatan Island. In 1742, on the heels of the golden age of pirates of the Caribbean, a British military outpost was established on Roatan Island off the north coast of Honduras. The community of Augusta housed a mix of British settlers and militia along with local indigenous Miskitu peoples.

While the settlement was only occupied for seven years, the archaeological record of the community provides an exciting glimpse into a world of complex interactions among Protestant settlers, English pirates, Spanish soldiers, enslaved Africans, and native Miskitu during as early efforts by the British to royalize its colonies developed. In this presentation, the concept of royalization and description of the results of four field seasons of archaeological investigations at Augusta, which have unearthed mixed deposits of English and Miskitu material culture will be discussed during this one-hour presentation beginning at 7 p.m.

There are about 350 different types of sharks. The dwarf shark is as small as a hand, while the whale shark can be as large as a school bus. On Friday, Jan. 17, from 2 to 3 p.m. the Going Coastal series continues with sharky science, recommended for all ages. Participants are able to learn about all types of sharks, where they live, what they eat, and much more as we explore one of the ocean’s most revered creatures.

People have been fishing Florida’s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters for thousands of years, but how did they catch their meals without the modern gear we use today? Especially along the Gulf Coast, archaeologists have found tantalizing clues about how Florida’s first residents fished these waters. On Saturday,  Jan 18, from 10 a.m. to noon, learn how archaeologists study artifacts linked to fishing like dugout canoes, ancient fishing hooks and nets, then see a 1,000-year-old dugout canoe found at Weedon Island.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, several live birds of prey will be used to illustrate aspects of predator-prey relationships, adaptations that ensure success as predators, and their role in maintaining healthy, balanced ecosystems. During this 10 to 11 a.m. presentation, the basic natural history of each species is also discussed along with the impact of humans on their habitats and populations. 

Wee-Time at Weedon is designed to introduce preschool children to the wonders of the natural and cultural world. The second and fourth Thursday of each month children are treated to a variety of stories and hands-on activities that connect them to their environment. This 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. activity is recommended for ages 3 to 5.

The Connecting People and Place exhibit continues. This art-inspired, permanent hands-on educational exhibit reveals the area’s history, ecology and people.

Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; closed all Pinellas County holidays. (727) 453-6500; www.weedonislandpreserve.org.

Weedon Island Preserve protects more than 3,700 acres of natural ecosystems and is located at 1800 Weedon Drive NE in St. Petersburg. The preserve is operated under the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Department and is open to the public seven days a week, including holidays, from 7 a.m. to 15 minutes before sunset. Its many outdoor activities include walking trails, a fishing pier and a canoe/kayak launch.

Pinellas County Extension offers classes, programs and activities at the Cultural and Natural History Center. The center features the permanent exhibit, Connecting People and Place, an art-inspired, hands-on educational exhibit which reveals the area’s history, ecology and people. The center is open Thursday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed all Pinellas County holidays.

To learn more about Weedon Island Preserve and its upcoming programs and events, call (727) 453-6500. To register for programs and events visit www.weedonislandpreserve.org. Videos featuring Weedon Island Preserve can be viewed at www.youtube.com/pcctv1.


Brooker Creek Preserve

Starting the year off at Brooker Creek, certified guides lead a hike along the 0.75-mile Brooker Creek Preserve’s Education Center Trail. On Saturday, Jan. 4, at 9 a.m., the group will begin a 90-minute walk through the forested wetland, oak hammock and pine flatwood ecosystems. Closed-toe shoes, water and hat recommended. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult; those younger than 6 may find the hike challenging.

A botany hike, best suited for adults, is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 10, from 9 to 11 a.m.  A Brooker Creek naturalist will guide the group in exploring the fascinating plants found on the preserve, and identifying wildflowers, ferns, epiphytes, trees and more. The ecology of various plant communities will also be examined. Come prepared with a camera and questions.

All bird lovers will enjoy this 8 to 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 11 hike to identify common birds of Brooker Creek Preserve. Meander along the one-mile trail to gather information on the birds seen and heard. Binoculars will be helpful.

Also on Saturday, Jan. 11, a local natural resource agent will conduct a 90-minute hike beginning at 10:30 a.m. The group will learn to identify the birds of Brooker Creek Preserve which will include tree identification. Closed-toe shoes, water and hat recommended; best for ages 6 and older.

Join an experienced naturalist on a wildlife hike along boardwalks and natural trails at Brooker Creek Preserve in search of wildlife in the preserve. Beginning at 9 a.m., this two-hour, Friday, Jan. 17, hike is a learning experience for everyone so come prepared with binoculars, cameras, and questions.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, a 9 to 11:30 a.m. an extended Brooker Creek hike is scheduled. Learn how the land has changed over time and discuss the ecological footprints left by those changes on this 2.8 to four-mile walk. Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must and water and hat is recommended as much of the hike will be on unimproved, uneven sandy trails. Those younger than 10 may find this hike challenging; all children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Join local photographers and master naturalists Karl and Kathleen Nichter, also on Saturday, Jan. 25, as they highlight the seasonal features and assist the group in capturing the natural beauty of the Brooker Creek Preserve. After a brief classroom session the group will hike the boardwalk and trails looking for those perfect shots. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., this two-hour session is recommended for adults and children 12 and older. 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

At 10:30 a.m. each Thursday, youngsters continue to be treated to the ever-popular Book-Time at Brooker. For 45 minutes, tots ages 3 to 5 have the opportunity to connect to the wonders of the natural world through stories and crafts, games or other hands-on activities.

Hosted by the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve, the Brooker Book Club continues to meet on the first Saturday of each month. Geared toward adults, the book list includes works by Florida authors, past and present, with archeology, biography, politics and history storylines. The book selected for discussion on Jan. 4 is 2001: A Space Odyssey by Authur C. Clark. This hour-long program, beginning at 9:30 a.m. is free. As seating is limited, advance registration is required.

On Saturday, Jan. 18, the first in the Family Wildlife Series will begin at 10:30 a.m. Wildlife biologists and naturalists use scat to determine species presence, habitat use, diet, health, and even population estimates.  This 90-minute presentation will allow participants to view a variety of preserved specimens.

Learn all about the marvelous manatees on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The presentation includes the life history of manatees, why they are an endangered species and what you can do to help protect them.

Join the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve on Saturday, Jan. 25 and get gardening hands dirty with the preserve’s wildflower garden club. Bring garden gloves and hat. Morning snacks are usually provided in this 9 to 11 a.m. activity.

Don’t miss Brooker Creek Preserve’s ongoing exhibit Windows to Our Wildest Place. These permanent, hands-on educational exhibits help visitors understand how natural Florida has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes. Brooker Creek Environmental Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; closed all Pinellas County holidays. (727) 453-6800

Brooker Creek Preserve protects more than 8,700 acres of natural ecosystems and is located at 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. The preserve, the horse trails and the Friends Trail are open daily and holidays.

The Environmental Education Center in the preserve features interactive exhibits and 22 discovery-oriented experiences that are fun for the entire family. The center is operated by the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Department and is open Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed on all Pinellas County holidays. 

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