December’s Rich in Park Activities

A monthly nature e-newsletter sharing our nature news and events
Explore Along the Myakka River at Sleeping Turtles Preserve North


Explore meandering canopied river trails with Sarasota County volunteers and Florida Native Plant Society members Al Squires and Denny Girard. Enjoy this pleasant walk along the “Wild and Scenic” Myakka River with views of pepper grass, lawn orchids and even a few Bitterweeds. Turtles and alligators should be on the move if it’s not too chilly, along with the presence of many species of birds.
Wednesday, December 2, 9-11 a.m.  
3462 Border Road, Venice
Space limited to 20.
Guides: Al Squires and Denny Girard, Sarasota County Volunteers
Registration info here for this event.
Phillippi Farmhouse Market
Sponsor: Friends of Sarasota County Parks (FOSCP)
Local fruits, vegetables, herbs and plants for sale as well as local foods and artisan crafts. Enjoy live music and free parking. Plenty of volunteers ready to assist you. Pets on a leash are always welcome at the market. 
Wednesday’s now through April, 2016 – 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
5500 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
For more information on the PhillippiFarmhouse Market or how to become a vendor: Call 941-275-9397 or
Please Note:
No December 3rd Demonstration Garden Tour 
at Shamrock Park
The master gardener volunteers will return January 7 for the free demonstration garden tours and advice on Florida gardening.
3900 Shamrock Dr., Venice
10th Annual Sustainable Communities Workshop 
Learning from our Past, Charting our Future
Reflecting on 10 years of sustainability actions and discussions, thisworkshop includes the release of a Sustainability Assessment Report and engagement sessions with identification of future priorities.

Morning keynote speaker: Kaid Benfield, senior counsel for environmental startegies at PlaceMakers LLC, a nationally acclaimed author, planner, longtime leader of the smart growth movement, and co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development program.
Afternoon keynote speaker: Jon Thaxton, the Director of Community Investment at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and former Sarasota County Commissioner, and an acknowledged leader in growth management, environmental preservation, water conservation, and transportation planning.
Thursday, December 3, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Event and Conference Center
4740 Cattlemen Rd., Sarasota
Fee- Registration fee of $40 includes continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon break refreshments. The student rate is $20.
Information and registration for this event here.
Friday Morning Fitness Walks!


Join Sarasota County Park Naturalist Angela Kaiser for Friday morning fitness walks at Lemon Bay Park! You will take a brisk walk every Friday along the 2 mile loop trail through Lemon Bay’s beautiful and picturesque pine flatwoods. Walks will leave from the Arbor at the end of the parking lot promptly at 9 am. This fitness walk will be every Friday until May 27 (Please Note: No walk on Dec. 25 or Jan.1). Be sure to join us for exercise and fun!
Friday’s, December 4,11,and 18, 9 a.m.   
570 Bay Park Blvd., Englewood
Space limited to 20.
Guide:  Angela Kaiser,
Sarasota County Park Naturalist 
No registrations necessary. Just show up and join us!
“Why Fire?”


What is prescribed fire and why and how do we set the woods on fire? You are invited to see the results of a recent prescribed fire and the benefits of it. Sarasota County Environmental Specialist, Nancy Edmondson will guide you through scrubby flatwoods and coastal woodlands that border beautiful Lemon Bay.
Friday, December 4 and
Tuesday, December 15
9 -11 a.m.                                  
6200 Osprey Rd., Venice
Space limited to 15.
Guide: Nancy Edmondson, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist
Registration info here for this event.
Birding Diversity at the Carlton Reserve
Calling all birding enthusiasts! Be tantalized and wowed by the vast array of bird species and nature found at the beautiful Carlton Reserve. Join local birder, Charlie Sample, as he leads you on a birding nature journey. Don’t miss this opportunity to help document the multitude of bird species on the Carlton Reserve outback. You won’t be disappointed!
Sunday, December 6, 7:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.           
1800 Mabry Carlton Parkway, Venice
Space limited to 14.
Guide: Charlie Sample,
Sarasota County Volunteer
Registration info here for this event.  
Pooches at the Preserve


Leash up your pooch and join Red Bug Slough Preserve’s staff for a fun and informative dog-friendly nature walk through the preserve. Enjoy the shaded trails with your four-legged companion; learn about dog etiquette, dog safety in natural areas, owner responsibilities and a wide variety of additional “pooch-tacular” information. Participants are limited to two dogs per person. Be sure to bring pet waste bags and dog treats (optional) and remember, all dogs must be on leash at all times.
Tuesday, December 8, 9-11 a.m. 
5200 Beneva Rd., Sarasota
Space limited to 20.
Guide: Jeff Weber, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist
Registration info here for this event.
“Reading the Landscape” at Manasota Scrub Preserve


Enjoy a long-distance hike through pine flatwoods to the maple swamp, seeing scrubby flatwoods and other kinds of wetlands along the way. Be prepared for vigorous hiking while enjoying the nuances of different plant communities with Sarasota County Environmental Specialist Nancy Edmondson.
Wednesday, December 9, 9-11 a.m.    
2695 Bridge St., Englewood
Space limited to 20.
Guide: Nancy Edmondson, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist
Registration info here for this event.  
Walk, Learn and Exercise!


Join Sarasota County volunteer Tina Sebastian on a fast paced walk through Lemon Bay Park. This 2-3 mile loop walk will take you through pine flatwoods and along Lemon Bay’s shoreline. Learn some fascinating facts about the native plants that grow here.
Friday, December 11, 9-11:30 a.m.    
570 Bay Park Blvd., Englewood
Space limited to 20.
Guide:  Tina Sebastian, Sarasota County Volunteer
Registration info here for this event.  
39th Annual Sandy Claws Beach Run 5K and
1-mile Fun Run!


This race, sponsored by Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources is sanctioned by the Manasota Track Club and chip-timed. The brilliant, white, pure quartz sand is hard-packed making for fast finish times or set a leisurely pace and enjoy a tranquil morning with shorebirds and perhaps, dolphins playing in the gulf. Try kinesiology taping offered pre-and post-race. Enjoy the post-race party with music, holiday-themed costume contest, raffle prizes, holiday photo op, food and beverages.
Join us for early packet pickup on Thursday, Dec. 10, 3-6 p.m. at New Balance Sarasota, 1872 Stickney Point Road. See you at the beach! Custom awards to overall categories and age group winners, 1st-6th place. Proceeds benefit Summer in the Parks’ Adopt-A-Camper scholarship program.
Saturday, December 12
Race Day Registration 7-8:15 a.m.    
948 Beach Road, Siesta Key
Registration and more info here .  
Geminid Meteor Shower Viewing Event
at Red Bug Slough Preserve 


Sarasota County invites you to join Environmental Specialist, Jeff Weber, for a late night viewing of the Geminid Meteor Shower. Dress appropriately for the weather and be sure to bring a flashlight, a folding chair and/or blanket, insect repellent and light snacks (optional) to enjoy one of nature’s nighttime spectaculars. You may expect to see 25+ shooting stars per hour if conditions are ideal! Join us for a rare late night excursion as we look to the heavens and enjoy the December night sky and possibly even the sounds of a barred owl or two. Minors must be accompanied by an adult.
Sunday, December 13, 10 – 11:30 p.m.
5200 Beneva Rd., Sarasota
Space limited to 30.
Guide: Jeff Weber, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist
Registration info here for this event.
In Search for Shiny Lyonia on the West Side of Manasota Scrub Preserve


Blooms? Shiny lyonia? Rosemary scrub? Enjoy a leisurely walk on the west side of Manasota Scrub Preserve, exploring regions seldom traveled by regular visitors. Sarasota County volunteers, amateur botanists and Florida Native Plant Society members Denny Girard and Al Squires will show plant detectives where to find the early bloomers thriving within the preserve. You never know what you may discover!
Wednesday, December 16, 9-11 a.m.

FNPS Photo of Shiny Lyonia
2695 Bridge St., Englewood
Space limited to 20.
Guides: Denny Girard and Al Squires, Sarasota County Volunteers
Registration info here for this event.  
Fun, Fascinating Facts about Plants!


Did you know that sea purslane has been used to clean stagnant waters? Have you heard the legend that inspired the name of Spanish moss? Join Florida Master Naturalist ,Tina Sebastian and Sarasota County Environmental Specialist, Nancy Edmondson for a leisurely walk and discover fascinating facts about the plants that grow there.
Friday, December 18 and
Wednesday, December 23
9-11 a.m.   
5472 Kenisco Rd., Venice
Space limited to 20.
Guides:  Tina Sebastian, Sarasota County volunteer and Nancy Edmondson, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist
Registration info here for this event.  

Monthly Rain Barrel Workshop and Sales


Learn how the use of rain barrels can conserve water, save money by reducing the use of potable water in landscapes (lower utility bills), and reduce stormwater runoff by storing and diverting runoff from impervious surfaces (roofs). Practical tips on the construction and installation will be provided. Rain barrels for sale for $37 each, includes tax and spigot assembly.  Cash or check accepted.

Saturday, December 19, 10-11 a.m.    
1300 S. River Rd., Englewood, Sarasota
Contact: David Pouso, Sarasota CountyEnvironmental Specialist at 941-232-8397.


To register for this free class go to Eventbrite.

Family Bike Adventures at the Carlton Reserve
Got bikes? It’s perfect weather to grab the whole family to join guides David Reynolds and Gary Vasbinder for an off-road wilderness bicycle ride through the beautiful Carlton Reserve. Expect to see lots of wildlife! Must be able to ride an off-road type bicycle.
Sunday, December 20, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.           
1800 Mabry Carlton Parkway, Venice
Space limited to 12
Guides: David Reynolds and Gary Vasbinder
To register for this event, please call David Reynolds at 941-412-5575 or Gary Vasbinder at 941-893-7729 directlyfor registration and meeting place.
What’s Blooming, Buzzing and Hatching
at Shamrock Park?

Ever wonder where wildflowers bloom – and when? How many kinds of butterflies and dragonflies live here? Or which eggs, like the gopher tortoise’s, may be hatching? And when do Florida Scrub-jays learn to fly? Join Park Naturalist, Brooke Elias on ‘fourth Thursday’s’ though May 26th, on a stroll to explore the annual rhythms and cycles of Shamrock Park and Nature Center.

Thursday, December 24, 9 -11 a.m.     
3900 Shamrock Dr., Venice
Guide: Brooke Elias, Sarasota County Park Naturalist
Registration info here for this event. 
“Fall” Colors of the Winter Holiday Season


You might be surprised to learn that even Southwest Florida has some fall color!! Join Sarasota County Environmental Specialist, Jeff Weber, on a hike through pine and hardwood habitats in search of red maples, laurel oaks, winged sumacs and other species at the peak of fall color…in mid-winter! Yes, the seasons are a little different here in paradise, but if you look closely, you’ll find a scattering of holly trees, an occasional hardwood with clumps of mistletoe and even some gorgeous “fall” color!
Tuesday, December 29, 9-11 a.m.      
Curry Creek Preserve (East entrance)
1500 Pinebrook Rd., Venice
Space limited to 20.
Guide: Jeff Weber, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist
Registration info here for this event.
What’s that?!? Plant and Animal ID Hike


Join Sarasota County Environmental Specialist and super sleuth, Jeff Weber, at Red Bug Slough Preserve, an urban natural area site, as he leads participants on an fun informative journey of discovery. Your trek will take you through pine flatwoods and oak hammocks highlighting both native and non-native plants and animals of the preserve.
Wednesday, December 30, 9-11 a.m. 
5200 Beneva Rd., Sarasota
Space limited to 20.
Guide: Jeff Weber, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist
Registration info here for this event.
Archaeological Event
Mark your calendars!
Dr. Uzi Baram, New College Archaeology professor, Sarasota County archaeologists Ryan Murphy and Steve Koski, Florida Public Archaeological Network staff, Time Sifters and USF graduate archaeological students will be probing and possibly excavating the Prodie Midden located on the grounds. The public is invited to observe.

Monday, January 4 and
Tuesday, January 5
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. 
5500 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
For more information,
please call 941-316-1309.

Fire Fest! 2016
Mark your calendars! Bring the family to see a first-hand look at how prescribed burns protect our communities and property from wildfires, maintaining Florida’s natural ecosystems for present and future generations. Lots of exhibitors, animals and demonstrations for your family to enjoy. Free Event for the whole family!
  • Prescribed Burn Demos – Live!
  • Special guest speaker
  • Fire equipment on display
  • Helicopter water drops
  • Guided nature walks
  • Kids games
  • Free food and more!

Saturday, January 30, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

1800 Mabry Carlton Parkway, Venice
Photographers:Do you have a beautifulbird photo to share? 

The Herald Tribune is seeking

beautiful bird photographs

to share on their on-line gallery.


Send your best pictures to:
The Herald Tribune staff just may include
your photo in this wonderful on-line bird gallery.
Registration Process for Nature Events

Look for ‘View Activities’ (if you already have an account), orSIGN UP HERE (if you need to open up a

new household account).


Attached here are directions to help you set up an account to sign up for a free nature event.

Please remember the 3 R’s.
Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle, when visiting your parks and environmental lands!

Please use appropriate containers for recycles and trash.

When visiting a preserve or environmental land where there are limited trash receptacles, please remember to ‘Pack it in. Pack it out.’  Leave nothing but your footprints. Thank you for caring.


For more information on the three R’s for your home and business, visitSarasota County Solid Waste for useful information.

About Us
Sarasota County
Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources
1660 Ringling Boulevard
Sarasota, Florida 34236

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