Volunteer Days in the Parks for December

From Jen Rogers, Sarasota Parks and Rec Naturalist:


December 2012 Update

Wishing You All Happy and Healthy Holidays!

Topics in this update:


2. Natural Area Parks Volunteer Work Mornings for December!

2a. Phillippi Estate Park! First and Third Tuesdays, December 4th

2b. Pinecraft Park! SECOND Monday, December 10th

2d. Shamrock Park! Fourth Friday, December 28th

3. Eye Spy of the Month – “White pelicans”

4. Pest Plant of the Month – “Air Potato”

5. On-Going Volunteer Opportunities at Natural Area Parks

6. Recording Volunteer Hours

7. Events of Interest at Natural Area Parks in Sarasota and Venice


Great Volunteer Days at the Parks!!

In November, volunteers helped staff with the “scrub jay sandbox project” at Shamrock Park, continued removal of guinea grass and air potato from Pinecraft Park, removed philodendron vinesand lead tree saplings at Phillippi Estate Park; and, removed air potato at Rothenbach Park!!!  Air potato is featured in this month’s pest plant of the month (that’s the leaf at left — see Section 4 below).

As always, but no less important to remember, volunteer efforts in habitat restoration are essential for maintaining these habitats!!!  Volunteer efforts to remove non-native plants help us reduce chemical use in our parks, protecting the watersheds and habitats for our native species!!!  Your efforts are impressive and priceless!!!  Thank you volunteers!!!


Natural area parks in Sarasota and Venice currently have on-going monthly volunteer work-mornings!  Feel free to attend for as little or as much as you are able, but let us know ahead of time if you will be arriving later so we can keep an eye out for you!  Park staff will provide tools as necessary. If you can, please let us know in advance if you will be attending so we can make sure we have sufficient tools.  We recommend volunteers wear sturdy shoes/boots, long pants, long sleeve shirt, and hat.  You may also wish to bring bug spray.  For more information contact Parks Naturalist, Jennifer Rogers, jrogers@scgov.net941-441-5214.



Phillippi Estate Park will hold one Volunteer Work-Mornings in December on the first Tuesday from 9 to 11:30 a.m.  For December the volunteer morning is on Tuesday, December 4th.  As abilities and interests allow, volunteer tasks may include exotic plant removal (e.g. wedelia, air potato, balsam apple, guinea grass, etc.), new plant watering, mulching, and/or other maintenance tasks as needed. Meet at the park office at 9 a.m.  Call (941-441-5214) if you’ll be joining later. We recommend volunteers wear sturdy shoes/boots, as well as long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and hat.


Pinecraft Park (mesic hammock area): will hold its monthly Volunteer Work-Morning in December on the SECOND Monday from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.  For December the volunteer morning is Monday, December 10th.  Pinecraft Park volunteer mornings normally occur on the 1st Monday of the month, however we’ve had a schedule change for the month of December.  As abilities and interests allow, volunteer tasks include habitat maintenance such as exotic plant removal (e.g. air potato, guinea grass, balsam apple) and trash collection along trails and within vegetated areas of the mesic hammock section of the park. Join for some or all of the fun in this park well known as a migratory bird resting spot.  Meet at the bridge to the hammock at 9:00 a.m.  For Pinecraft Park, please let me know in advance if you plan to attend so I can make sure we have sufficient tools. We recommend volunteers wear sturdy shoes/boots, as well as long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and hat.


Shamrock Park will hold one Volunteer Work-Mornings on the fourth Friday in December from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m.  For December the volunteer work morning is Friday, December 28th.Volunteer tasks will include working on the scrub jay sandbox/habitat project. Meet at the nature center at 8:30 a.m.  Call (941-441-5214) if you’ll be joining later.  We recommend volunteers wear sturdy shoes/boots, as well as long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and hat.



White PelicansYou never know what you might find or see during a volunteer morning!  During the last week of October at Phillippi Estate Park we spotted a flock of American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) soaring overhead (see “white pelicans” photo).  During October we start to see these beauties flying into our area as many “snow birds” are migrating through or traveling to our area to spend the winter.  White pelicans are larger than brown pelicans (see “white-brown pelicans” photo) and are generally white in color with black wing tips underside (i.e. seen when in flight).  The photo of the white and brown pelicans together was taken with zoom lens at the rookery islands in Sarasota Bay.  Please be a respectful birder/photographer: If birds start to react to your presence, you are too close.  DID YOU KNOW…? White pelicans do not plunge-dive for their food like brown pelicans.  To find out more, see the following link http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_White_Pelican/id   And, don’t forget to look up!


Another non-native (i.e. exotic) plant invading our natural areas is commonly known as “air potato” (Dioscorea bulbifera).  It’s very likely the ‘air potato’ plant got its common name from the spud-like aerial tubers that it produces along the length of its vine (see “air potato spud” and “air potato hanging” photos).  The aerial tubers may vary from 1/4-inch to 5+ inches in size!  See “air potato spud sizes” photo.  The vines often climb up vegetation (see “air potato vine” photo) and may stretch 60 feet into trees.  The air potato vine generally has heart shaped leaves (see “air potato leaf” photo) and can grow very fast during the summer rainy season (e.g. 8 inches per day).  Originating from tropical Asia, the air potato is listed as Category 1 on the 2011 Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant List (http://www.fleppc.org/list/11list.html).  Plants listed as Category I invasive exotics, “are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives.” Air potato vines produce large numbers of aerial tubers, which drop to the ground and produce new plants.  These tubers do not need much to survive and reproduce.  This year I did an experiment with an air potato that I left on my desk un-watered.  A vine grew from the tuber and produced new tubers including a new tuber adjacent to the starter tuber.  The vine, which never really produced leaves, has now died back, and the starter tuber has shriveled (see photo “desk potato”); however, I imagine the new tubers will all sprout in the spring…  Stay tuned!  Although the air potato vine can grow from a tuber sitting on the surface of the ground, the tubers often work themselves into leaf litter and soils.  If you are removing these vines you will need a shovel to remove the starter potato (see “air potato shovel” photo).  If you remove the vine but do not remove the starter potato, the vine will regrow.  For more information on air potato… come help us remove it from our parks!  or, see the following link http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/133


The following volunteer opportunities are available at various natural area parks in Sarasota and Venice.  Please let us know if you are interested in filling these important roles.

Habitat Heroes: This volunteer task includes habitat maintenance tasks in natural area parks as abilities allow. Tasks may include weeding exotic plants, vegetation reduction (e.g. trimming), or removing trash.  Park staff will provide necessary tools. Attend scheduled volunteer days at select parks.

Volunteer Team Leaders: This volunteer task includes assisting with coordination of volunteers during Volunteer Work-Mornings.

Clerical/Office Volunteers: This volunteer task may include data entry, printing/copying, updating bulletin boards, filing and assistance with preparing the monthly volunteer update, and/or weekly/monthly tracking of volunteers’ hours via phone, email, or hardcopy. Coordinate volunteer time with the Parks Naturalist.

NEEDED! Phillippi Farmhouse Market Parking Team Members: This volunteer task includes parking set-up/take-down and parking attendant activities.  The Parking Attendant positions include directing traffic during the Phillippi Farmhouse Markets. The Phillippi Farmhouse Markets occur weekly on Wednesdays, October through May, from 9 a.m. through 2 p.m.  Volunteer positions are for 2 hour segments, a minimum of two Wednesdays per month for at least 2 months of the market season (Oct-May).  The Parking Set-up positions include assistance with installation of the temporary fencing (post-rope) and spray-painting parking areas.  Parking set-up activities generally occur a day or two prior to the Wednesday market.  The Parking Take-down positions include assistance with removing the temporary fencing (post-rope) following the market.  Park staff will provide reflective safety vests for parking attendants. Coordinate volunteer time with Priscilla Brown.

Wilson House Docents at Urfer Park: Volunteer tasks include opening and closing the historic Dr. C.B. Wilson House for open house events, greeting visitors, and answering questions related to the exhibits on display in the house. The exhibits were developed to relate the interesting history of the house, the impact of Dr. C.B. Wilson and his family on life in early Sarasota, as well as the agricultural and natural history of the area. The Wilson House also serves as the Roland Abraham Trail Center and has exhibits on Sarasota County’s vast system of trails. Volunteer commitment is for a two-hour shift twice per month. We are in need of more volunteers!!  The goal is to have two volunteers per shift. The days/times of open houses are as follows: Tuesdays and Saturdays – 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; and, Thursdays and Sundays, 2 – 4 p.m.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are October through April; Saturdays and Sundays are year-round.

Journalistic Volunteers: This volunteer task may include contributing articles and/or photographs for the newsletter, researching and writing nature articles for various park bulletin boards, and journalistic documentation through articles or photographs of park events, including volunteer work-mornings, nature walks, programs, and special events. Coordinate volunteer tasks and time with the Parks Naturalist.  We have bulletin boards at all of the natural area parks!

Friends of Shamrock Park Coordinator: The ‘Friends of Shamrock Park’ has been inactive for some time and is in need of a coordinator to bring the group back to life. Friends of Sarasota County Parks chapters are organized groups of interested citizens that actively support their park. The Chapters work on behalf of park sites to assist with park programs, projects, special events, fund raising, public education, and volunteering. The Chapters serve as important links to local communities and park user groups. More information on the Friends of Sarasota County Parks can be found at www.foscp.org. If you are interested in this position, please contact Bruce Dillon (bkdillon@verizon.net).

Volunteer Opportunities for Groups: If you have a group that would like to volunteer, please contact the Parks Naturalist so we can plan a fun, educational and productive program!


Once you have completed your volunteer time for the month of November, please remember to record your volunteer hours for the month ofNovember.  If you need assistance, please feel free to contact Parks Naturalist Jennifer Rogers (jrogers@scgov.net941-441-5214).



1.       Go to the Sarasota County website, https://www.scgov.net/Pages/default.aspx

2.       Click on “Calendar of Events” in the top left area of the webpage.  That should take you to the following webpage, http://spwebs.scgov.net/scgdesign/spcalendar.html

3.       In the center of the calendar page is a drop-down menu that says “all events.”  Mouse-click once on the arrow to see the full menu.  Scroll with mouse to “nature walks” and then mouse-click once on the “go” box.  This will filter the events on the calendar to nature programs where various nature programs are listed.

4.       You may click on any listed program on the calendar for more info and to register.

5.       If you would like to see future months, to the right of the previously used drop-down menu are two drop-down menus to select month and year.  These drop down menus will be showing the current month and year. Mouse-click once on the first arrow to see the menu of months and scroll with mouse to select the month of interest.  Mouse-click once on the second arrow to see the menu of years and scroll with mouse to select the year of interest (i.e. for events in January, you will need to change the year to 2013).  Mouse-click on the “go” box to get the programs for selected month and year.

** Shamrock Park: Demonstration Gardens Free Tours**

Date: First Monday of each month (December 3, 2012); Time: 9 – 11 a.m.

Location: Shamrock Park, 3900 Shamrock Drive, Venice

Description: Master Gardeners will be in the demonstration gardens at Shamrock Park on the 1st Monday of each month to give tours and advice on Florida gardening. For information about the Master Gardeners Program, call941-861-5000.

** Phillippi Estate Park: Bradenton-Sarasota Rose Society (Sept-June) **

Date: 4th Sunday Sept through June; Time: 2-4 p.m.

Location: Edson Keith Mansion, Phillippi Estate Park, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

Description: Bradenton-Sarasota Rose Society meets monthly to share knowledge and organize garden tours, seminars, lectures, and trips.  The society is affliliated with the American Rose Society.  For more information visitwww.b-srs.org

Stay tuned, the events listing starts to pick-up in January 2013!!!

Stay tuned, the events listing starts to pick-up in January 2013!!!