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SWFL Nature Fest Logo11th Annual Southwest Florida Nature Festival

January 16-18, 2015

Registration opens Nov. 1 for field trips and lectures during the 11th Annual Southwest Florida Nature Festival! Explore the local environment through almost 40 guided field trips to 20 wildlife hot spots around Southwest Florida and lectures at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Field trips, including birding walks, buggy rides and boat tours, are offered in conjunction with partners such as Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Big Cypress National Preserve and Conservancy of Southwest Florida. 

Field Trip Details and registration

Onsite activities are as follows:

Friday, Jan. 16: admission to the Environmental Learning Center is $5 Buy-One/Get-one FREE (includes daily programs at 11 am and 2 pm)
Saturday, Jan. 17: admission is $10 and includes entry to all 5 daytime lectures. Advanced registration is NOT required, must pay at door. Admission to the keynote presentation is $15, registration IS required.
Sunday, Jan. 18: Environmental Learning Center is closed

Nature Festival Lectures, Saturday Jan. 17

South Florida Birds & Gardens (11 am)

K-Hines-headshotTime: Saturday, January 17, 2015 from 11 am - 12 pm

Given By: Kirsten Hines

Lecture Description: Bird gardening in sub-tropical South Florida is different than the rest of North America, but is critical given that the region supports nearly 300 bird species but has lost nearly 70% of its natural upland habitat to development. Learn how bird gardening is different in South Florida and how private landowners can help restore and maintain the region's ecological functions through landscaping.

Brief Bio: Kirsten is a writer, photographer, and environmental educator focused on nature, travel and conservation. With an M.S. in biology, her work is grounded in biological principles to lure readers and viewers into the lives of plants and animals.

Living Roofs, Flowers in the Sky (12 pm)

Eric FohtTime: Saturday, January 17, 2015 from 12 - 1 pm

Given By: Eric Foht, Naples Botanical Gardens

Lecture Description: This presentation will change the way you look at a roof forever. Come learn how living roofs can help your home while protecting Southwest Florida's Gulf, estuaries, and endangered plants.

Brief Bio: Eric Foht is a Natural Areas Manager at Naples Botanical Garden. He grew up in Naples and enjoys spending his time with his family and friends, playing in the ocean and experimenting with fringe ideas of all sorts. He hopes his time and energy will be well spent in protecting SW FL's wild places.


Bird Behavior (1 pm)

Jack BerningerTime: Saturday, January 17, 2015 from 1 - 2 pm

Given By: Jack Berninger

Lecture Description: This presentation will cover many aspects of bird behavior, specifically adaptation through anthropomorphic actions and survival techniques.

Brief Bio: Jack is a retired biology teacher and naturalist who continues to educate through lectures and field trips in Ohio and Florida about anything from art to zoology.


Poachers in Paradise (2 pm)

Geoff TragerTime: Saturday, January 17, 2015 from 2 - 3 pm

Given By: Geoff Trager

Lecture Description: This presentation will cover facts and fiction relating to poaching in Southwest Florida, based on Geoff's fiction book Poachers in Paradise. Geoff's short talk will be followed by a book signing.

Brief Bio: Geoff Trager is a marine biologist, aquarist at Rookery Bay Reserve, naturalist and educational kayak tour guide, and environmental fiction writer.


Least Terns (3 pm)

Ted BelowTime: Saturday, January 17, 2015 from 3 - 4 pm

Given By: Ted Below

Lecture Description: Least Terns are the smallest terns in the Americas and found only in our area from late March through August during nesting season. Although in the past (40 to 50 years ago) they had large successful colonies of up to a thousand nests, now at best there are two to three hundred. 

Brief Bio: Ted Below, a longtime volunteer here at Rookery Bay, will discuss these birds, their nesting, and the issues they encounter while sharing the shore with humans.


Peter FrezzaLecture Title: Roseate Spoonbills in the Everglades: A Look into the Past, Present and Future of the Flame Bird

Time: Saturday, January 17, 2015 from 5:30 pm - 7 pm*

*This is the Keynote Presentation and there will be an admission fee of $15

Given By: Pete Frezza, Research Manager- Everglades Region, Audubon Florida's Everglades Science Center

Lecture Description:  Pete will discuss findings from our 75 year history of monitoring roseate spoonbill populations in southern Florida. This will include a look into historical nesting patterns in Florida Bay and factors that have led to changes in their population over time along with results from long term banding and satellite telemetry projects
with these birds. I will also give a brief overview of Everglades Restoration projects that are expected to improve conditions for these birds throughout the ecosystem.

Brief Biography: Peter Frezza received bachelor's and master's degrees in Environmental Sciences from Florida Atlantic University. He has worked as a Biologist with Florida's FWC on the Sport Fish Restoration project and upon finishing graduate school was hired by Audubon Florida to work as a scientist at Audubon's Everglades Science Center. He has been with Audubon Florida since January, 2001 and his current position with Audubon is 'Research Manager - Everglades Region'. The research being conducted out of the Tavernier Science Center is focused on Everglades Restoration initiatives and how modifications to freshwater flow are effecting and impacting plant, fish and bird life in the downstream coastal mangrove zone and Florida Bay. Peter has also been a professional backcountry fishing guide in the Everglades since 1999.



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