Thousands of photos snapped at Okeeheelee’s Raptor Day

Cassandra Jean (2)
Photo Credit: Cassandra Jean

Thousands of photos were snapped at Palm Beach County’s Okeeheelee Nature Center on Saturday, January 30, as photographers of all ages captured the majestic beauty of nine birds of prey, aged 3-20 years old.

OKNC sold out of tickets for its Raptor Day photography event, welcoming 50 photographers to the facility – ranging from 11 to 93 years old! Photographers from all over the country traveled to Palm Beach County to take advantage of this unique opportunity, traveling from Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and New Jersey, just to name a few. The event even drew in some international guests.

“This was a very unique opportunity for people to see all of our birds at the same time and that’s certainly never been done and never been done for photographers,” said Callie Sharkey, the Nature Center’s manager.

The fundraising event for Friends of Okeeheelee Nature Center provided the photographers with a unique opportunity to showcase all of the raptors at the facility – various owls, hawks, falcons and others – during private sessions with the birds. The birds sat outdoors for natural lighting on real wood perches, a natural background was set up behind them, allowing the photographers to play with a more natural setting. According to Sharkey, all of the birds were cooperative for the entire event, and all of the photographers were respectful of the birds. Some of the birds even took to roosting and preening, signs that they were comfortable with their environment.

Seven of the birds were from Okeeheelee Nature Center, while the other two were from Daggerwing and Green Cay Nature Centers. All of the birds photographed during the event are cared for at Palm Beach County’s three nature centers as they are non-releasable. Each bird has been through rehab for various reasons, whether they have been wounded by humans or arrived at the nature center as a fully imprinted bird.

Matteo Cappella
Photo Credit: Matteo Cappella

Sharkey said the Nature Center would like to plan this event again in the future, as it allows photographers – both professional and amateur – to gain a respect for the animals they’re photographing and become further educated on why the animals are being cared for at the nature centers, which leads to further conservation efforts. Promoting stewardship of nature and natural sites is a core service of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department.

Okeeheelee Nature Center is owned and operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department and is located in Okeeheelee Park at 7715 Forest Hill Blvd in West Palm Beach.

We’d love to see your photos! If you have a photo taken at the Raptor Day event, you can share it on the Friends of Okeeheelee Nature Center’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfOkeeheeleeNatureCenter/

Check out the photos submitted below, and be sure to keep checking our blog for more photos as they come in!

View photos on Flickr

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

John Prince Park welcomed national, international athletes for 16th annual Knock and Roll Tournament

Wheelchair Rugby players from South Florida, Tampa, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Michigan, Philadelphia, Jacksonville and Switzerland went head-to-head for the trophy in a three-day tournament at the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) Therapeutic Recreation Complex in Lake Worth.

Wheelchair Rugby, or Quad Rugby, is a game for individuals with disabilities; the players glide down the court, bumping and hitting each other’s chairs along the way, in what makes for an exciting and powerful sport meant to increase athletic participation among individuals with physical disabilities.

The CMAA Therapeutic Recreation Complex is owned and operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department and is located in John Prince Park at 2728 Lake Worth Road in Lake Worth. Providing for athletic programming and facilities is one of the department’s core services and it is firmly committed to the spirit of and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For more opportunities for healthy, happy living, visit www.pbcparks.com.

Watch the below video to hear from some of the athletes who competed, including our local team, the South Florida Rattlers.

Palm Beach County Pools welcome College Swimmers

For three weeks in December and January, College Swim Teams from around the country travel to Palm Beach County’s Aqua Crest Pool and North County Aquatic Complex to train for the fall season. The teams travel from as far west as Iowa to as far north as Michigan to escape frigid temperatures that make it difficult to train. As students from Michigan State and New York’s Wagner College explain, Palm Beach County’s palm trees and beaches allow them to take a mental break during the winter.

Aqua Crest Pool and North County Aquatic Complex are owned and operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. Providing for athletic programming and facilities is one of the core services of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. For more opportunities, visit www.pbcparks.com.

Experience Oshogatsu 2016 at Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens

On Sunday, January 10, Palm Beach County’s Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens held their annual Oshogatsu Celebration to ring in the Japanese New Year. Visitors enjoyed a day of music, ceremonies, food and more. The Oshogatsu Celebration at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens allows visitors to experience Japanese culture in South Florida.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is owned and operated by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department and is located at 4000 Morikami Park Road in Delray Beach. Promoting stewardship of natural, archaeological and cultural sites is one of the core services of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. For more opportunities, visit www.pbcparks.com.

Parks & Recreation Team up with Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and Melanoma Foundation to Strike out Skin Cancer at South Florida Fair

IMG_1031On Saturday, January 16, Baseball Hall of Fame member Mike Schmidt and the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation, in partnership with the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, unveiled Palm Beach County’s first BrightGuard™ Sunscreen Dispenser at the South Florida Fair and encouraged fairgoers to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Schmidt, a Palm Beach County resident who played 18 seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995, made a special appearance at Palm Beach County’s exhibit. The 12-time All-Star and three-time National League MVP shared his story about surviving stage 3 melanoma.

“I spent my life in the sun without protection. I am currently a melanoma survivor because I see my dermatologist regularly,” said Schmidt. “I have partnered with the Richard David Kann Foundation whose mission is to increase the awareness and importance of sun safety. This mission, to educate our young and old alike, is a perfect fit for me.”

A baseball theme was prevalent among Palm Beach County Fair exhibits in anticipation of the new spring training stadium in West Palm Beach and tied in to this year’s South Florida Fair theme: Discover The Palm Beaches.

“We think it is vitally important for people of all ages to use our parks and stay active, but also be sun safe,” said Parks and Recreation Director Eric Call.

IMG_1051

Fairgoers who visited Parks and Recreation’s exhibit at the Fair learned about the many services provided by the department, but also received SunSmart™ prevention and detection brochures and free sunscreen from the BrightGuard™ Sunscreen Dispenser, courtesy of Katzen Eye Care & Laser Center, before heading out to the midway.

“Parks and Recreation provides safe outdoor sports facilities and opportunities for youth enrichment,” said Lisa Richman, executive director at the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation, “and for 20 years the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation has been empowering families to make the necessary sun safe choices for healthy lives while enjoying our beautiful outdoor venues.”

For more information about the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation, contact Lisa Richman at (561) 655-9655 or visit http://www.melanomafoundation.com.

The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department operates more than 80 regional, district, community, beach, and neighborhood parks, spanning several thousand acres. Visit www.pbcparks.com to learn about opportunities for healthy, happy living.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tips on coexisting with our parks’ animals

Hundreds of animal species call our parks “home.” From wild birds to tortoises and bobcats to alligators, every animal plays an important role in each ecosystem found throughout Palm Beach County’s park system.

Watch this video to find out how you can safely enjoy our parks while helping to ensure our wild inhabitants enjoy their home.

Accomplish your New Year’s resolutions with #pbcParks!

ThinkstockPhotos-496639204

It’s time to start making lists filled with the goals we want to accomplish in 2016. Some popular aspirations include traveling or reading more often, spending more time with family and friends, or learning new hobbies. But of course, the most popular New Year’s resolutions are health-related.

According to Nielsen, the top two New Year’s resolutions in 2015 were to “stay fit and healthy” and “lose weight.” If the cost of a gym membership is keeping you at a standstill, the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department has good news for you – you can accomplish these goals without a gym membership! The key to living a healthier lifestyle in 2016 can be found in a park near your home or job.

The most recent statistics from 2007 by the Florida Department of Health suggest that about 68% of Palm Beach County residents are inactive at work, and only about 36% of residents meet moderate physical activity recommendations.

It’s a core service of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department to facilitate health and wellness opportunities to help our park patrons achieve their health and fitness goals in the coming year!

Walking, running & jogging

If you’re just starting your physical fitness journey, consider talking with your health care provider first and begin by adding walking to your daily routine. Various health organizations indicate there are countless 80380240benefits of walking. Doctors with Mayo Clinic, a medical non-profit and worldwide leader in medical care, research and education, indicate that combined with fewer caloric intake, 30 minutes of brisk walking every day can burn about 150 calories daily. Adding to that, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) reports that walking as little as 30 minutes a day can have more than just physical benefits – including reduced risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and osteoporosis, reduced risk for depression and other mental illnesses, as well as contributing to a reduction in air pollution.

view from towerTake advantage of the many walking paths and nature trails throughout Palm Beach County’s park system. The multiuse paths may be used for walking, jogging, running, skating or bicycling. Or, take it easy with a walk on any of our five nature trails, like the one at Daggerwing Nature Center, you may come across animals like ospreys, butterflies or wood storks. In addition to the physical benefits that come with exercising outdoors, various organizations like the University of Washington report that “green spaces” like these help control mental fatigue, stress and a variety of other mental issues.

Tip: A healthy brain is key to accomplishing all of the other goals on that New Year’s resolutions list!

Have a bike you’d like to pull out in 2016? We provide bicycle paths and off-road bicycle trails, as well as bicycle rentals, at some of our park locations.

Strength training & stretching

Staff at the Mayo Clinic report that strength training can help reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently – a proven method for losing weight, looking and feeling better!

It’s never too late to start strength training! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the benefits of strength training in elderly individuals, reporting the reduction of signs and symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, obesity and others chronic diseases in those who strength-train regularly.00043.MTS.Still001

If you’re looking to add strength training to your exercise plan in 2016, take advantage of the recently-installed Fitness Zone® at John Prince Park. It contains 17 pieces of resistance exercise equipment under the shade – and it’s free to use every day, sunrise-sunset. At other parks, like Loxahatchee Groves and Burt Aaronson South County Regional, you can go through exercise courses and stations to stretch, balance, kick, jump and more. To learn more about the health benefits of stretching from the Mayo Clinic, click here.

Water activities

Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University offers a helpful guide to the benefits of water exercise, like swimming. Among the many benefits of exercising in the water are increased muscular flexibility, circulation and an improvement to the physique.

78032109The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department offers six aquatic centers where visitors can workout in the water for a low cost. Kids and adults can enjoy water aerobics, lap swimming, water walking and other water-related exercises.

South Florida’s weather is perfect for water activities! In 2016, make it part of your plan to discover Palm Beach County’s beautiful water bodies. Thousands of park-goers already take advantage of boating, canoeing and kayaking opportunities at inland county parks like Riverbend and Okeeheelee, as well as access to the Intracoastal Waterway and ocean from saltwater boat ramps located in parks like Phil Foster and Bert Winters. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available at select locations.

Tip: Canoeing and kayaking allows you to have a relaxing day out, as well as improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility.

Kids’ fitness

Adults aren’t the only ones who may want to improve their physical health in the coming year. Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation offers multiple options to get kids up and moving – including playgrounds, recreation centers and splashparks.

So what are you waiting for? Get started today! Visit www.pbcparks.com and find a county park near you.