Sarasota Nature Events for December 2014

A monthly e-newsletter sharing our nature news and events
Registration Process for Nature Events

Attached here are directions to set up an account and to sign up for a free nature walk.

For additional help with account set-up, call 941-861-7275 during weekday business hours.

Fitness in the Park:

Fit as a Fiddle for Fifty-Plus

Looking for an opportunity to get a little fresh air, meet new people and get healthier and stronger? Join Park staff for a walk geared toward improving health, balance and overall fitness. Enjoy a series of exercise equipment (geared toward 50-plus) along the trail for fitness stops. This is a gentle workout, (not for advanced fitness buffs) with the goal to minimize risk of falls and increase participants’ sense of well-being and quality of life through exercise and companionship. Wear comfortable athletic shoes, sun protection, hat, and bring drinking water. Be prepared to walk approximately 1 mile on paved and relatively even unpaved trails.

Fridays December 5 through April 24, 2015, 9-10 a.m.  


4000 Honore Ave., Sarasota
Guides: Sarasota County Park staff
No registrations necessary.


Full Moon Walk at Pocono Trail Preserve

There are many customs and superstitions about the moon. Learn how Native Americans and other cultures considered the moon while sharing folklore and stories with Sarasota County Park Naturalist Brooke Elias for a trail walk lit by the rising full moon. Let the intrigue of the preserve come alive in the moonlight while enjoying the meandering trails through scrub and pine forests.

Saturday, December 6, 6:30 p.m.  
189 Pocono Trail East, Nokomis
Space limited to 15.
Guide: Brooke Elias, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist
Register 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 T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve (Carlton Reserve). Join volunteer guide and 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 7, 7:15 a.m.-1 p.m. 
1800 Mabry Carlton Parkway, Venice
Space limited to 14.
Guide: Charlie Sample, Sarasota County Volunteer

To register for this event: Please email Charlie Sample

Land Management in an Urban Setting

Join Jeff Weber as he shares tools and techniques used to manage Curry Creek Preserve, an urban natural area site. Participants will get a “behind the scenes” glimpse into the decision making processes involved in developing a comprehensive management strategy for this site. Visitors will see firsthand the results of various management practices that have been successfully used at the preserve.

Tuesday, December 9, 9-11 a.m.   

1500 Pinebrook Rd. (East entrance), Venice
Space limited to 20.
Guide: Jeff Weber, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist
Register here for this event.

Winter at the Slough with Denny and Al

Join amateur botanists and Florida Native Plant Society members, Denny Girard and Al Squires as they walk Red Bug Slough Preserve looking for overwintering plants and if you get lucky, some early flowers. This interesting nature walk will lead you through a unique urban preserve that may also offer glimpses of dragonflies, wading birds and birds preparing a nest.

Wednesday, December 10, 9-11 a.m.    

5200 Beneva Road, Sarasota

Space limited to 20.
Guides: Denny Girard and Al Squires, Sarasota County volunteers
Register here for this event.
Archaeological Walking Tour

Archaeologist Ryan Murphy will discuss the Phillippi Flake Scatter and theProdie Shell Midden as you stroll the estate and learn about the interesting pre-history of the area. From 5,000 B.C. to 2,000 B.C., the native population sharpened and produced stone tools on site. The Prodie Shell Midden dates approximately between 400 A.D. and 800 A.D. and represents the Manasota encampment. Be a part of this free informative history walk – no registration necessary.


Wednesday, December 10 and
Wednesday, February 11 only
11:30 a.m.
5500 S. Tamiami Tr.,  Sarasota
Guide: Ryan Murphy, Sarasota County
History Center’s Archaeologist
Meet at the Keith Farmhouse next to the Edson Keith Mansion.

No registrations necessary. For more information call 941-316-1309.


Join the Lemon Bay F.I.S.H. Project!
Calling all F.I.S.H. – Folks Interested in Submerged Habitats!

Get a little wet, have a little fun and learn a lot! Join us on a search for marine life in Lemon Bay. Using hand and seine nets, you will search shallow waters and seagrass beds, observing, collecting, and discussing the natural history of some of the many interesting fishes and other animals that inhabit the bay.

Saturday, December 13, 9:30 -11:30 a.m.

570 Bay Park Blvd., Englewood
Guide: Chuck Idelberger, Sarasota County Volunteer


To register for this event:

Please call Chuck Idelberger at 941-488-8998 or Kenya Leonard at941-915-1244
Monthly Rain Barrel Workshop and Sales                      

Saturday, December 20, 10-11 a.m.    
Green Room,
6700 Clark Rd., Sarasota
Contact: David Pouso, Environmental Specialist

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 of rain barrels will be provided. After the class, rain barrels are available for sale for $37 each, including tax and spigot assembly.  Payment can be made by cash or check.

To register for this free class: Please use the IFAS link on the right hand column of this newsletter.





Family Bike Adventures at the Carlton Reserve


Got bikes? It’s perfect weather to grab the whole family to join Carlton Reserve volunteer guide David Reynolds and Gary Vasbinder for an off-road wilderness bicycle ride through the beautiful T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve (Carlton Reserve). Expect to see lots of wildlife! Must be able to ride an off-road type bicycle.
Sunday, December 21, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.           
1800 Mabry Carlton Parkway, Venice
Space limited to 12
Guides: David Reynolds and Gary Vasbinder, Sarasota County Volunteers

To register for this event: Please callDavid Reynolds at 941-412-5575 or Gary Vasbinder at 941-893-7729.

Celebrating the Holidays with Denny and Al

Join amateur botanists and Florida Native Plant Society members, Denny Girard & Al Squires as they lead you from a wetland boardwalk through a scrub and pine flatwood area while sharing their boundless knowledge of botany. Experience Urfer Family Park’s meandering trails while hiking and enjoying the natural lands and plants growing during the holiday season.


Wednesday, December 31, 9-11 a.m.    
4000 Honore Ave., Sarasota
Space limited to 20.
Guides: Denny Girard and Al Squires, Sarasota County volunteers
Register here for this event.
Be a Florida Scrub-jay Docent
The Florida Scrub-jay is the only species of bird endemic to Florida. One of only 15 species of birds endemic to the United States and it’s living right here in Sarasota County!
Join a Park Naturalist at Shamrock Park to learn about our most threatened species. Help teach others the importance of protecting them and what we can all do to help.
First Wednesday – monthly until April 2015, 9-10 a.m.  
3900 Shamrock Dr., Venice
Meet under the roof of the Nature Center
For more information, contact Brooke Elias or call 941-861-5000
Phillippi Farmhouse Market
Sponsors: Friends of Sarasota County Parks (FOSCP)


Local fruits, vegetables, herbs and plants for sale as well as locally prepared foods and local artisans with their creative handicrafts. Live music, ample free parking, and friendly volunteers at the Welcome Tent to assist you.FREE docent guided tours of Edson Keith Mansion:  Meet at the front porch of the mansion at 10 am every Wednesday during market season. Note: Leashed, well-behaved dogs are welcome at Phillippi Farmhouse Market and in beautiful Phillippi Estate Park. Market is closed: Wednesday, December 24.

Wednesdays now through April 29
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. 
5500 S. Tamiami Tr.,  Sarasota 

For more information on the Phillippi Farmhouse Market or how to become a vendor: Call 941-275-9397 or email


Friends of the Legacy Trail
2015 Surrey Ride Program!
On-line reservations are now available.

The Friends of the Legacy Trail (FLT) Surrey Program offers a way for mobility challenged residents and visitors who would otherwise be unable to share in The Legacy Trail to enjoy the experience. You will be able to sit back and enjoy the ride on a 4-passenger, 4-wheeled canopy covered bicycle while FLT volunteers provide the pedal-power.


Wednesdays and Thursdays,
January 7 through March 26, 2015
10 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1 p.m.
509 Collins Road, Laurel
Guides: Friends of the Legacy Trail Volunteers
Register here for this event.   
Piggy’s Revenge 2015 Off Road Challenge!


Do you like a challenge? Do you like wilderness? This event is for you!
Piggy’s Revenge is an self-supported endurance ride consisting of 20,40 or 60+ miles of off-road goodness through the beautiful Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County. The loops will consist mostly of single track, double track roads with gravel, sand, dirt, grass and pavement. Simple directions will be provided. Expect to see a lot of wild things especially wild boars, deer and alligators plus all kinds of flying and crawling critters!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Registration starts at 7:30 a.m.               
1800 Mabry Carlton Parkway, Venice
Sponsors: Sarasota County Off Road Riders (SCORR) 
For more information and to register for this event, go to
SAVE THE DATE – Saturday, January 31, 2015

  • Prescribed Burn Demos – live!
  • Special guest speakers
  • Fire equipment on display
  • Helicopter 1 water drop demo
  • Guided nature walks
  • Kids games
  • Free food and more!
FIRE FEST! is a fun opportunity for the whole family to learn how fire is used carefully and effectively on our natural lands, right here in Sarasota County. FIRE FEST! provides a first-hand look at how prescribed burns protect our communities and property from wildfires, as well as maintain Florida’s natural ecosystems for present and future generations.
Just a few exhibitors that you will be enjoying:Around the Bend Nature Tours, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Florida State Parks, Florida Forest Service, Florida Native Plant Society, Kettlicious Kettle Corn, Sarasota County Extension Office UF/IFAS, Sarasota County History Center, Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFMD) plus more!.
Saturday, January 31, 2015 – 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 
1800 Mabry Carlton Parkway, Venice
Free event for the whole family!
About Us
Sarasota County
Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources
1660 Ringling Boulevard
Sarasota, Florida 34236

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Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, marital status, familial status, religion, or genetic information.  Persons with disabilities who require assistance or alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), or who wish to file a complaint, should contact: Sarasota County ADA/ Civil Rights Coordinator, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida 34236, Phone: 941-861-5000, TTY: 7-1-1 or 1-800-955-8771,