Tag Archives: conservation

Destination Recreation 5: Nature Centers

Welcome to the fifth episode of Destination Recreation! We take you through different Palm Beach County parks and facilities in each episode – giving you a unique peek at what you can experience at our more than 80 locations throughout the County.

On this episode, we take you around all three county-operated nature centersOkeeheelee Nature Center in Okeeheelee Park, Daggerwing Nature Center in Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park, and Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands just west of Boynton Beach. These facilities are unique places where everyone — from kids to senior citizens — can bond with animals, learn about important ecosystems, and bask in the beauty of natural habitats – right here in Palm Beach County! The best part… they’re free!

Don’t miss an episode – follow pbcParks on WordPress or subscribe to our YouTube channel to see each episode of Destination Recreation, which is released monthly.

We make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations.

For more information about our nature centers, visit pbcNature.com. For more opportunities for healthy, happy living, visit pbcParks.com.

Green Cay Nature Center hosts ‘Project WILD’ Workshops

“I cannot remember the last time I sat in a classroom for seven hours…and enjoyed every (exhausting) minute! Green Cay’s incredible Naturalist, Jessica Andreasen, taught a motivating, inspiring program, “Project Wild” to a group of educators, environmentalists, and others who cherish our wetlands. It was a wonderful and very meaningful experience! Jessica, you are an incredibly gifted teacher!”
-Shelley Hymowitz, Volunteer, Green Cay Nature Center.


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Staff at Green Cay Nature Center are helping educators teach students HOW to think, not WHAT to think, when it comes to conservation and the environment. The nature center recently hosted a Project WILD workshop for Palm Beach County educators to help integrate wildlife-based environmental and conservation education in their classrooms.

On June 20th, Green Cay Nature Center welcomed 20 educators from the Palm Beach County School District, home school, Broward 4-H, AmeriCorps and several nature centers for an educational, fun and action-packed day-long training, hosted by naturalist Jessica Andreasen. Jessica taught Aquatic WILD and Flying WILD, which covers wetland and bird topics – making Green Cay a great venue for the lessons.

“When I remember all the people who inspired me to pursue a career in environmental education, I am proud to bring Project WILD to Green Cay as a host site and have this incredible opportunity,” Jessica said, adding that she is grateful for the opportunity “to not only teach children, but now guide educators towards incorporating these important topics into their classrooms.”

Jessica will hold a Project WILD workshop at least once a year, and already uses a lot of the activities for Green Cay’s school, public and specialty programs. Facilitators like Jessica must attend a certification program, a day-long “Train-The-Trainer” class, in order to host their own workshop.

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In addition to Aquatic WILD and Flying WILD, a new topic will be introduced as continuing education for those who have taken the core workshops. Conserving WILD covers current conservation issues, environmental policy, and conservation-based activities that can be found in all four activity guides. This workshop will discuss the importance of incorporating a conservation message into every activity to help children not only learn about the topic, but to also understand the need for conservation and preservation efforts.

“It is my hope that by being an advocate for Project WILD activities, we can work with educators to find creative but easy ways to encourage the next generations to be passionate about wildlife, conservation and the environment,” Jessica said.

About Project WILD19400534_1439646286097012_7208021712814310910_o_edited.jpg

Project WILD, which stands for Wildlife in Learning Design, is an internationally-used environmental education program aimed at arming both formal and informal educators alike with the knowledge and skills to teach environmental education in their own classrooms. These activities are ideal for many audiences: formal K-12 classroom instruction, non-formal teaching, and summer camp programs emphasizing the environment.

Project WILD Florida is sponsored by the Council for Environmental Education, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN). Through this sponsorship, all the books and materials for this workshop were free of charge, giving facilitators like Jessica the opportunity to reach a larger audience by being able to offer the workshops with no associated costs to the participants. The Friends of Green Cay Nature Center sponsored the workshop with refreshments.

For more information about Project WILD, visit these links:

http://www.projectwild.org/

http://myfwc.com/education/educators/project-wild/

For more information about the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, including efforts to promote stewardship of natural, archaeological and cultural sites, visit pbcParks.com.

Best Annual Family Events at #pbcParks

In addition to the many recreational activities parents and kids can do together at more than 80 Palm Beach County parks and recreation facilities, there are a number of popular events that are hosted annually in #pbcParks. These events are designed to educate people of all ages and bring together parents and kids to create an appreciation for different topics, ranging from the environment to fitness and accessible sports.

Here are some popular free events:

Dark Sky Event

Every year, the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Dark Sky Festival_3Department and Department of Environmental Resources Management “celebrate
the night and turn down the lights” by Hosting their Dark Sky Festival at Okeeheelee Nature Center. The event is held at night, typically from the hours of 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. in February. The Dark Sky Festival aims to expose people of all ages to the marvels of astronomy and the importance of protecting dark skies for the benefit of human health and wildlife.

Parents and kids can:Stargaze with local astronomers

  • Enjoy exhibits and nature walks
  • Enjoy a children’s activity area
  • Make s’mores by a campfire
  • Learn night-time photography tips
  • And more!

Information about the Palm Beach County Dark Sky Festival can be found here: http://www.co.palm-beach.fl.us/erm/darkskyfest/


Outdoor Adventure Day

The first ever Outdoor Adventure Day is in John Prince Park on Saturday, March 4th! PBC Parks partners with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to bring the Lake Worth and surrounding community an event where youth and adults can safely learn and experience outdoor recreation opportunities like canoeing, fishing, archery, rock climbing and more.

The event helps get people outside and active, create a more active community and expose parents and youth to unique sports they can do together. By teaching our community these sports at no charge, they learn to be more active in their everyday lives and appreciate being in natural settings.

Click here for details about the 2017 John Prince Park Outdoor Adventure Day.


Family Fun Fests

Glades Family Fun Fest_3There are a number of Family Fun Fests in PBC Parks every year, from Family Fitness Fun Day at West Boynton Recreation Center to the Glades Family Fun Fest at Glades Pioneer Park.

The aim of Family Fun Fests is to allow parents and kids to get out and get active through dance, bounce houses, rock climbing, and team sports like soccer. These family-friendly activities are intended to get everyone active and moving, from the youngest member in the family to the oldest. Health and Wellness partners present at these events give community members a chance to get important information about their health and wellness, including free health screenings. Free resources are available for residents from partners around the community.


Migration Celebration

The annual Migration Celebration at Green Cay Nature Center welcomes adults, kids and bird lovers alike to the event to learn about migratory birds returning to the wetlands and become familiar with other animals, like reptiles, living at the facility. The Migration Celebration exposes people of all ages to a unique nature center inside Palm Beach County, while enlightening them on topics related to wildlife conservation and environmental protection.Migration Celebration_1

Kids can take part in animal-related activities like interactive puppet shows and arts and crafts with education and conservation themes. Parents can join their kids as they watch for dozens of different birds at the nature center.

The nature centers also host annual events celebrating Earth Day. At Daggerwing and Okeeheelee Nature Centers, guests can explore the nature center grounds, connect with nature, and participate in conservation events and efforts.


Knock and Roll Tournament – Wheelchair Rugby

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Every year, PBC Parks welcomes wheelchair rugby players from all over the country and the world, for the annual Knock and Roll Tournament. The different teams go head-to-head for the trophy in a three-day tournament at the Therapeutic Recreation Complex inside John Prince Park 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.

People of all ages and abilities can watch this exciting game every year at the TR Complex – and cheer on their favorite team while they bump and glide past each other!


Pioneer Farmstead, Living History Days & Battlefield Re-enactments

Riverbend Park and Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park often host historical family events like Pioneer Farmstead Day and Battlefield Re-enactments, which allow families to take a step back in time and learn about all realms of the historical battles that took place in the 19th century in these areas.Living History Days

The events often feature different historical aspects for families to enjoy. Riverbend Park’s Living History Day in November 2015 focused on a variety of topics, including battlefield education, pioneers, and homesteaders education. Visitors can experience “Old Florida” and learn about the history of the area through many points of view. Period army, Seminole camps, re-enactors, guest speakers and historical preservationists are often present at these historical events, all inside two of Palm Beach County’s beautiful and most popular parks.


There’s so much going on inside #pbcParks! To stay up-to-date with what’s going on, be sure to subscribe to Leisure Times Online, a monthly list of events that are happening inside PBC Parks.

The mission of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is to make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations. For information about more leisure opportunities available through Palm Beach County, visit www.pbcparks.com​.

#pbcParks Contributes to Environmental Sustainability

The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department strives to keep the plants and animals that contribute to important ecosystems thriving for generations. Our efforts help reveal a connection between park visitors and natural environments to create an appreciation and promote stewardship – because everyone deserves a healthy home.

The Office of Public Engagement created this 60-second public service announcement to depict our devotion to promoting and protecting Palm Beach County’s beautiful environmental spaces. The video includes original artwork and animation created by intern Carlos Duenas, Jr. with a voice over by Public Relations Specialist Bibi Baksh.

The mission of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is to make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations.

Visit pbcParks.com for more information.

Keep America Beautiful Grant, UPS Foundation Help Plant Trees in Stub Canal Park

New trees, plants, and mulch are now in Palm Beach County’s Stub Canal Park, thanks to a $5,000 grant from Keep America Beautiful and UPS Foundation volunteers.

The trees and plants were planted in early October at the West Palm Beach park, which includes green space and a boat ramp popular among skiers.

“Trees are probably the best fight that we have against things like climate change and also provide a wonderful canopy for the recreational users of our parks here in Palm Beach County,” said Lourdes Ferris, Executive Director of Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful.

For more about this wonderful volunteer project, watch this short video!

The mission of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is to make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations. Visit pbcParks.com for more information.

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

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