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Join Steve Bertone, long-time Rookery Bay Reserve Cultural Resource Monitor, on a virtual walk through prehistoric and historic settlement areas in the Reserve. Built atop a remnant 2,500-year-old Calusa shell mound and village site, a historic pioneering community homestead called the Little Marco Settlement flourished on the Henderson Creek waterfront. The presentation will address how pioneers made a living on this harsh landscape, and what life was like here before air conditioning and running water.
Come along on this small boat cruise through back bays and winding creeks to visit a particularly unusual place in Rookery Bay Reserve. After disembarking, take a short hike to one of the highest points in Collier County, an ancient sand dune relic from the Pleistocene Era. Your naturalist guide will help you see and appreciate the geologic history of Sand Hill as you enjoy the remarkable view. You will also learn about the specially adapted trees, shrubs and wildflowers that survive in this coastal scrub ecosystem. This tour allows guests the opportunity to experience a place few visitors get to see. Participants must have the physical ability to get into and out of a boat tied to shore. Closed-toed shoes are reccomended.
Join a Rookery Bay naturalist as you enjoy a two-hour guided tour which explores the mangrove bays, creeks and rookeries that make this Reserve a valuable treasure. This is a beginners trip and includes brief paddling instruction. However, possible winds and currents may require paddlers to have some upper body strength. Participants must be age 12+ and anyone under 18 must register and paddle with an adult. Kayaks have a 250 pound weight limit. Fee for the tour includes admission that day to the Environmental Learning Center. Arrive at launch site (Shell Island Road) 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure time.
Have you ever visited a place with the hope you might come away with a profound understanding of its essence rather than just a snapshot? This tour is designed to “get you there”. You will wander through the bays and backwaters of Rookery Bay Reserve, learning about plants and animals, but more importantly, how they fit into the complex tapestry of this special place we call an estuary. Bring your curiosity and be rewarded with discovery and insight. You will journey back in time and learn how human history and natural history intersect. Your guide adapts the tour to changes in weather, tides, and participants’ interests so no two tours are ever the same. Participants will be on the boat the entire time and must have the physical ability to step on and off of the boat at our dock.
This tour provides an opportunity to explore Keewaydin Island, a natural, living barrier island with an incredible diversity of life and some of the best shelling in Florida. Stroll the beach with your naturalist guide and learn about all the things you are seeing: specially adapted native plants, gastropods, bivalves, crustaceans, corals, sea squirts, snails, sponges, worms, fishes, birds, reptiles, and more. This island is a wonderful example of the life and death reality of plants and animals "living on the edge". Also included is a leisurely cruise through the Rookery Bay mangrove estuary, one of the richest and most productive ecosystems on the planet. Participants must have the physical ability to step down into, and up from, the boat at a dock. Closed-toed shoes are recommended for the walk across the island (and can be removed on the beach).
The treasure on this interesting island isn't gold, silver or pirates' booty. It is the amazing ecological treasure of a rare tropical hardwood hammock. You will enjoy a leisurely boat trip through the estuary to the island, disembark, and hike about 1/2 mile on a primitive trail in a shaded forest dripping with ferns and bromeliads. Your naturalist guide will introduce you to the fascinating plants that make this community of life unique and will share interetsing stories of how human history and coastal ecology intertwine. This tour requires the physical ability to step down into, and up from, the boat at a dock and walk 1/2 minle on uneven terrain. Closed-toed shoes required.
Our newest program, Rising Tides, brings the classroom outdoors to Delnor Wiggins State Park, a 199 acre barrier island separated from the mainland by mangrove wetlands and tidal creeks. Delnor Wiggins provides access to the three major areas of the coast: Coastal Uplands, Estuarine, and Marine. This is highly important to share with the students as these systems are all integrated, but simultaneously unique in the communities they support and the conservation issues they face.
This hands on program, led by Rookery Bay Educators, will focus on our coastal habitat as well as learning about marine debris, all highlighting the connection between humans and our environment.
This program is open to homeschoolers ages 6-14. Parents are welcome to accompany students throughout the activities.
Program must meet minimum of 10 students in order to occur. List of what to wear and other details will be emailed closer to the date of the event.
Questions? Contact Jeannine Windsor at 239-530-5989.
Local artist Marjorie Pesek will lead this 3-hour workshop for adults of all levels of creative talent. She will share her unique art technique of Layered Imagery. Participants will be supplied with a sketch on a 9" x 12" stretched canvas, a template of the subject, glue, scissors, and magazines. Marjorie will work with you to create a masterpiece you can take home! Additional kits available for purchase in the nature store. See examples on Marjorie's website by clicking here.
Registration fee includes one adult (ages 12+) and all necessary supplies. Come early and enjoy complimentary admission to the Environmental Learning Center.
Discover the nocturnal side of nature while camping with our Educators inside the Environmental Learning Center! During this special program, your child (ages 11 - 14) will learn how to tell HOO from HOO during an owl encounter, investigate invasive species with a surprise guest speaker, and learn the latest in research taking place inside the reserve.
Event includes evening/morning snack, games and activities, guest speakers, a commemorative Rookery Bay water bottle, and FREE passes to the Environmental Learning Center for your next visit.
More details to be released closer to date of event. A list of items to bring will be emailed upon registration.
Program must meet minimum of 10 students in order to occur. Emergency contact information and misconduct agreement will be completed at drop off.
Make wildlife crafts such as marine mammal puppets, fish prints and cabbage palm reindeers. Activities are geared to children ages 6 to 12. Free with Environmental Learning Center admission ($5 adults, $3 kids 6-12, FREE kids under 6).
Local artist Marjorie Pesek will lead this 1-hour workshop for children and adults of all levels of creative talent. She will share her unique art technique of Layered Imagery. Participants will be supplied with a sketch of a variety of subjects such as a pelican, a tree frog, or a sea turtle. Using photos and magazine clippings, each parent and child will team up to create a masterpiece to take home. All supplies are included. See examples on Marjorie's website by clicking here.
Registration fee includes one adult, one child (age 5+), and all supplies. Come early or stay late and enjoy complimentary admission to the Environmental Learning Center, 9am-4pm.
In celebration of Winter Solstice, the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center offers “buy one, get one free admission.” Higher price prevails. Cannot be combined with other offers.
This one-of-a-kind tour takes place in the evening and is often (but not always) around the time of the full moon. Guests will visit a remote section of Keewaydin Island, renowned for its shell-strewn beaches and pastel sunsets. Stroll along and enjoy beachcombing until the magical moment when the sun sinks into the Gulf. As darkness gradually enfolds you, begin the leisurely return cruise through the back bays of the reserve, becoming immersed in the sights, sounds and sensations of night in a mangrove-forested estuary. If the tide permits, you will ease by the rookery island where hundreds of herons, egrets and ibis gather for the night. Participants must have the physical ability to step down into, and up from, the boat at a dock. Closed-toed shoes are recommended.
Bring the whole family and enjoy a selection of nature films selected by Rookery Bay staff and researchers! Movie mania will be held in the auditorium where the amphitheater-style, cushioned seating will give everyone a great view of the film with ample room to relax! Film selections are subject to change. Only family-friendly films will be shown.
Rookery Bay Reserve encompasses 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters. Although most of the area is aquatic or marine, it includes a variety of ecosystems from mangroves to pine flatwoods, freshwater wetlands, and rare xeric oak habitats in high relict dune ridges. Because of the diversity of habitats and elevations, the proximity to developed land, and associated changes in hydrology, the prescribed fire program at Rookery Bay Reserve is an important tool for preserving native biodiversity. Greg Curry is the "Burn Boss" and will explain how fire is used to protect wildlife and people.
Learn basics of birding, including how to use field guides, plumage, flight patterns, behavior and field marks in bird identification. This class also provides an overview of binocular styles and functions, including adjusting the diopter and other “tricks of the trade.” The classroom session will be followed by a field trip to a nearby park to practice new skills.
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