Parents looking for a fun and educational way for kids to spend time over the summer – consider the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is now offering new summer activities, including a Little Explorer pre-K programs, guided kayak tours, Junior Vet Lab, wildlife hospital exhibits and an environmental education lecture series.
Led by Conservancy representatives, guests will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with native reptiles, ocean creatures, and occasionally catch a glimpse of rehabilitating wildlife. Daily Education Programs begin May 1 through October 31 at 11 AM at the Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window.
Daily programs include:
11 AM “Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window”
11:15 AM “Reptile Roundup”
12:15 PM “Wildlife Hospital Talk”
1:15 PM “Ocean Discoveries”
2 PM “Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window”
On the Water
Electric boat tours are also available from 10 AM to 3 PM. Guests can enjoy a relaxing 45-minute ride on the mangrove lined Gordon River led by a Conservancy boat captain. Rides are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Boat tours are included in price of admission to the Conservancy Nature Center, must be two years old to board electric boats.
In addition, kayak rentals for up to two hours are available from 9 AM to 1 PM. Take a guided tour of the Gordon River or head out on your own and discover the hidden treasures of this brackish water habitat, which provides a perfect sanctuary for many native Florida species and explore the natural beauty of Southwest Florida. Kayak rentals and guided tours, reservations required.
Visitors can go on a two hourkayak adventure with a Conservancy-trained guide where they will learn about the importance of the mangrove forest while spotting Florida wildlife. Tours will be offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 AM for $40 for members and $50 for non-members, reservations required.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida will also offer a guided boat and lunch tours of the Gordon River on Fridays in May through September. Tours will depart at noon aboard one of its famous electric boats and stop for lunch at Wahoo’s River Bar and Grill. After your meal, guests will cruise back to the Conservancy’s Nature Center where they can explore the Dalton Discovery Center, the Little Explorer Play Zone and wildlife hospital exhibits, reservations required.
The Little Explorers Pre-K programs will be offered Thursdays and Saturdays at 10 AM. Little Explorer Play Zone provides the youngest visitors, the opportunity to explore nature and discover amazing animals through multi-sensory, interactive activities, stories, and crafts. No registration required. Admission is free for members and included in admission for non-members. Little Explorer Play Zone is most enjoyed by children age five and younger. Summer programs include:
May 12, 14: A Color of His Own
May 26, 28: Salty the Sea Turtle
June 9, 11: Over in the Forest
June 23, 25: House for Hermit Crab
July 14, 16: Small Green Snake
July 28, 30: Where Should Turtle Be?
Aug. 11, 13: The Little Lazy Lizard
Aug. 25: Commotion in the Ocean
Adult Speakers Series
Free to Conservancy members, “Evenings at the Conservancy,” the monthly environmental education lecture series will continue on select Tuesday evenings. Theseries features a wide variety of presenters, eco-programs, panel members from the Conservancy, and local and regional environmental experts. Doors open at 5:30 PM and the program starts at 6:30 PM. Programs frequently sell out, please pre-register by emailing Sophia Navarra at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 239-403-4207.
Lecture topics include:
May 10: “Legislative Wrap Up” with Jennifer Hecker, Conservancy Director of Natural Resource Policy.
June 14: “Invasive Reptiles in SWFL” featuring Ian Bartoszek, Conservancy biologist.
July 12: “FWC Florida Manatee Research” with Denise Boyd, FWC Conservation Research Associate.
Self-Guided Nature Center Tours
In addition to summer programs, the Conservancy Nature Center offers self-guided exploring. Visitors can explore the interactive Dalton Discovery Center, which features the wondrous ecosystems of Southwest Florida. They can discover live animals, get hands-on in the touch tank, and see Luna, the loggerhead sea turtle, in the 5,000-gallon aquarium.
The von Arx Wildlife Hospital treats more than 3,200 injured, sick and orphaned native animals each year. Discover threats facing our animals and injury prevention tips. Guided tours of the Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window are offered every day at 11 AM and 2 PM. Guests can walk through the hospital exhibits and check out a behind-the-scenes film, patient X-rays, animal artifacts, and the Junior Vet Lab.
The Junior Vet Lab is an interactive play space where children can learn how veterinarians care for animals, and the children can role-play with native animals (of the “stuffed” species). The Junior Vet Lab is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM in the Nature Center’s Sapakie Family Classroom.
Special Celebration Days
May7 will be Nature Cat Day, guests are encouraged to leave their inner house cat behind and explore the natural world, encounter animals, and enjoy interactive children’s activities based on the newest PBS Kids TV show “Nature Cat.”
On Friday May 19 and Saturday May 20 the Conservancy will celebrate Endangered Species Day to raise awareness about our must vulnerable species. There will be special activities throughout the day and special admission deals for Conservancy and Zoo members. Zoo members receive free admission to the Conservancy and Conservancy members get in free to the Zoo.
Summer at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will include special celebration days with family-friendly activities to celebrate our water, land and wildlife.
World Turtle Day– May 23: Celebration activities May 23-29
World Oceans Day– June 6: Celebration activities June 6-11
World Snake Day– July 16: Celebration activities July 11-16
World Lizard Day– Aug. 15:Celebration activities Aug. 15-20
Free Admission Days
Mother’s Day, May 5-7: Free admission for Mom when accompanied by a paying guest.
Memorial Day, May 26-28 and May 30: Free admission for current and retired military with valid ID.
Father’s Day, June 16-18: Free admission for Dad when accompanied by a paying guest.
Independence Day, June 30-July 2: Free admission for current and retired military with valid ID.
Labor Day, Sept. 1-3: Free admission for First Responders with valid ID.
All Conservancy Nature Center programs and events are online at www.Conservancy.org/Nature-Center. Membership is available online at www.Conservancy.org/Join. For information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and to make reservations, call 239-262-0304 or visit www.Conservancy.org. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is located at 1495 Smith Preserve Way in Naples.