Tag Archives: Animals

Power of Parks: Diana Perez

Welcome to Power of Parks, a podcast produced by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, where we share inspiring stories from people who have benefited from nature, parks and recreation.

Episode 17 is a partnership with the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department in honor of August as National Water Quality Month, and features Diana Perez. Diana is a project coordinator with PBC WUD. The episode was recorded at Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands, where Diana discusses the Green Cay Phase II expansion project.

Eagle Scout Project Complete at Daggerwing Nature Center

Daggerwing Nature Center congratulates Michael Yao, who, after over two years of planning and setbacks with the pandemic, completed his Eagle Scout project at the nature center.  As part of the final project, Michael provided two Wood Duck nest boxes and built and installed seven Screech Owl nest boxes in the natural area. 

The Screech Owl nest boxes are located close enough to the boardwalk for observation and can be seen by guests when walking along the trail.  The Wood Duck and Screech Owl nest boxes will provide places for these species to raise young and will help support the diversity of wildlife around Daggerwing Nature Center. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Sandy Gurian

Sandy Gurian has been a volunteer for 2 years at Green Cay Nature Center. She helps set the tone of the visit for patrons, as she is usually the first person seen by visitors. She greets visitors, assists with basic questions, helps with program reservations and answers the phone. She is very knowledgeable about all operations of the nature center.

Green Cay is one of the most popular places to visit, where the nature center itself can be bustling and busy on any given day! Volunteers highly contribute to their successful engagement with the public on those busy days! Sandy contributes her positive energy, enthusiasm, and attention to detail as well as keeping the front desk clean and neat, making sure safety concerns are addressed, and takes initiative when she sees something needs attention.

Sandy has a great energy and was awarded the engagement champion this year during their volunteer appreciation week. She truly loves welcoming visitors, offering assistance or answering questions. She is always on her feet and wants to learn something new everyday. In addition, she is a great team player and is very flexible with her schedule – always willing to help out when needed. All around, that enthusiasm and teamwork is what makes her a wonderful volunteer at Green Cay.

The biggest personal benefit she’s received as a volunteer with our department? “I’m glad I can give back before I get old. It fulfills me to volunteer my time”. Sandy loves engaging with all visitors at Green Cay Nature Center.

Sandy worked as a secretary for the Allentown School District and retired in 2013. She moved to Florida in 2018 from the Poconos. Sandy loves nature and being outdoors and has many childhood memories of going to the park every day as a kid. She said her family went out for picnics every Sunday to the lake. Sandy loves birds, likes to run, swim and play pickleball. When Sandy is not volunteering at Green Cay Nature Center, she ushers at the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton.

Animal Encounters: American Alligators

American Alligators, the Florida State Reptile, are common in South Florida — and can even be spotted in some PBC Parks. In this episode of Animal Encounters, Daggerwing Nature Center Manager, Sean Mallee, shares some interesting facts about the American Alligator, including a number of useful adaptations the reptiles have! This episode features Nibbles, an Animal Ambassador at Daggerwing Nature Center.

PBC Parks Participates in ‘Parks for Pollinators Bioblitz’

The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department (PBC Parks) participated in the national Parks for Pollinators campaign, which was aimed at raising public awareness of the importance of pollinators and positioning parks as national leaders in advancing pollinator health. Organized by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, the Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz event was held during the month of September.

PBC Parks created a project – named Parks for Pollinators 2020: Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation – in the iNaturalist app, which was shared with NRPA and added to the national campaign. Participants used the iNaturalist app and website to record and identify observations of various plant and animal pollinators found in parks, natural areas, backyards, and other locations throughout the county.

The PBC Parks project recorded about 1,000 observations, more than 370 species, more than 100 identifiers, and nearly 150 observers on the iNaturalist app.

“Participating in the NRPA Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz was a really fun way to engage our community to support pollinators and to draw attention to the importance of our park system’s wildlife habitat,” said Jennifer Cirillo, PBC Parks’ Assistant Director.

Parks play a key role in protecting and preserving pollinators and their habitats, and BioBlitz events are designed to create a literal snapshot of plants, insects and animals to see what wildlife is present in local parks. The activity not only let participants safely explore their local parks and learn more about the species through the iNaturalist mobile app, the information gathered also provided specific data on the species located in the parks — which can help park and recreation professionals manage those spaces for biological diversity and build ecological resilience. 

In addition to featuring the project and link on the PBC Parks website, additional BioBlitz activities were included, in order to provide the community with more ways to understand the importance of pollinators and their impact on the environment.

The PBC Parks project can be found here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/parks-for-pollinators-2020-palm-beach-county-parks-and-recreation

Volunteer Spotlight: Meghan and Taylor Morrison

Volunteer Spotlight: Meghan and Taylor Morrison have been volunteers at Okeeheelee Nature Center (ONC) for 6 months, where they work as greeters, education docents and animal caretakers. Providing quality animal care is necessary at ONC for their animals to remain healthy, especially since they have 23 animals inside the nature center to manage. Volunteering requires extensive training, detailed reporting and teamwork. Volunteers spend their shifts cleaning enclosures and preparing food amongst other tasks like prepping for upcoming programs and events, including prepping their arts and craft activities. Ultimately, there isn’t much Taylor and Meghan haven’t done for the nature center and it’s even more amazing that they have learned it all so quickly and accomplished so much in the 6 months they have been with ONC. “Their position title should really be All-Around Volunteer!”

They have made an impact at ONC with the absolute love they both have for the nature center animals and willingness to drop everything in their personal lives to come in and volunteer. Before the pandemic caused facility closures, they helped the nature center staff run their school programs more smoothly and efficiently, ultimately improving ONC’s reputation with the schools. Meghan has also assisted on other special event programs, in particular, getting the arts and craft activities preset for ONC’s upcoming Gopher Tortoise Celebration Days! All in all, Taylor and Meghan are huge helps to have around and ONC staff are super appreciative of the time they have dedicated to ONC and their animals. In 6 months, they have already put in 170 hours of volunteer service, that is true dedication!

Even though they are twins, they are two unique individuals who together make an extraordinary volunteer team. The twins have this enthusiasm to help with just about anything, which is crucial at ONC, since their unofficial motto is “never a dull moment at ONC.” They come in eager to work and care for the animal ambassadors every day they are at the nature center! For Volunteer Coordinator Emilie Travis, it is always a joy to know they are scheduled, which makes her job easier and more fun!

The biggest personal benefit that Meghan receives as a volunteer at ONC is the opportunity to work with and learn from such amazing people and animals, and getting to learn about South Florida’s ecosystems first hand. For Taylor, it’s the relationships she has developed with the amazing people (and animals) of ONC that have helped her grow her confidence and passion for helping others, both of which will greatly help her as she begins her masters degree this fall.

Taylor received her Bachelors degree in Secondary Social Science Education from FAU, and participated in color guard/marching band while in college. Currently she is pursuing a Masters Degree in Student Affairs from FAU. She’s one minute older than Meghan. She loves painting and crafting. She previously worked at Disney World as a park greeter. She loves raccoons. Meghan is finishing her Bachelors degree in English with a minor in theater from FAU, and actively participated in various projects with the theater department and Office of Leadership and Service Learning. She also loves cats, baking, spending time with her family and helping others any way she can.