For more information or to register for a pre-tour, please see the County Agent magazine or visit NACAA.com. A registration link will be on the home page under the Florida AMPIC logo starting April 1.
Swamps, Sawgrass and Sea-life of South Florida
This program is designed to provide the opportunity for NACAA members to study and analyze Florida’s natural resources including unique water habitats, protected plant and animal species, and invasive species management in a rapidly growing state. The 2022 Natural Resources pre-tour will highlight the many environmental educational and eco-tour activities that South Florida is known for. Begin by staying along the boardwalk of Hollywood Beach to enjoy Florida’s Atlantic Coast each morning and evening. The Southeast coast in the nesting grounds for many species of sea turtles, shore birds and crabs.
We will begin early on Thursday morning, July 14, by riding through the Everglades National Park to experience the magnificence of Florida’s subtropical wilderness. Everglades National Park has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site and a Wetland of International Importance. At Everglades Florida Adventures in Everglades City, we will board a guided boat tour of the 10,000 Islands. The trip will take place on a 45ft passenger catamaran with partial shade and bench seating. This 90-minute excursion ventures across Chokoloskee Bay, into Indian Key Pass, and through the mangrove islands of Everglades National Park. A naturalist will highlight the rich history and unique wildlife of the area. Upon arrival to the Gulf of Mexico, guests may enjoy views of Indian Key, the Stop Keys, Picnic Key, and Marco Island. Every trip is unique, and while wildlife varies day to day, we are always on the lookout for manatees, osprey, sea turtles, shore birds, and playful dolphins. Guests should consider bringing sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen, and water.
After lunch, we head back east to the Sawgrass Recreation Park in Weston. We start our adventure with an airboat tour of the sawgrass marsh. Glide across miles of river at speeds up to 40 mph, and get up-close and personal with native wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators as you cruise through the unbridled wild beauty of the Florida Everglades. After the boat ride, we will stroll through the exhibit areas featuring over 100 reptiles and mammals that have been adopted and rescued. We will then meet up with the “Croc Docs”. The University of Florida’s “Croc Docs” are a team of biologists, ecological modelers, and outreach specialists on the forefront of wildlife research in south Florida and the Caribbean. They conduct long-term, applied research and monitoring focused on crocodilians, invasive reptiles, threatened and endangered species, climate change, and human dimensions. In collaboration with federal, state, local, and tribal agencies, the Docs respond to pressing wildlife management needs and provide scientific support for Everglades restoration. We will be able meet a baby gator and possibly more. Different animals that often include reptiles like tortoises, snakes and iguanas. Gator Bites are available from an on-site food truck.
Friday morning, July 15, we will gather early to walk out to the beach to speak with Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation personnel and observe the existing nests. Then we head out for a fun-filled day of exploring the Atlantic Ocean. Virginia Key is an 863-acre barrier island in Biscayne Bay just outside of Miami. The owners of Salty Soul Adventure (Florida Master Naturalists) will meet us with all the equipment necessary for snorkeling and kayaking. We will be experiencing sea-grass beds and inter-tidal sand/mud flats, mangrove and herbaceous wetlands, beach dune communities and a coastal maritime hammock. Unique marine life is easily spotted in the clear waters. Lunch will be at the nearby park.
Saturday, July 16, we will have to head toward the conference. But, we have time to stop in Boca Baton for a visit at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. This 20-acre coastal preserve is surrounded by a rare remnant of tropical hardwood hammock. We will visit the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Facility to learn about the sea turtle patients, visit Florida Atlantic University’s onsite laboratory with a gallery for viewing research projects, and observe a variety of native fish and other marine animals that reside in marine aquariums. Time permitting, we can stroll through the butterfly garden and walk the boardwalk to the authentic Chiki overlooking the Intracoastal waterway.
Getting back to West Palm Beach in time for the beginning of the 2022 NACAA AMPIC.
Wednesday, July 13
- Gather together in Hollywood Beach, FL. Will help with pick up from nearby airports if Hollywood is not possible. Get acquainted meeting. Hand out materials, as well as, answer questions on the week activities.
Thursday– Depart 7:00 am
•Everglades National Park – Ten Thousand Islands Tour (90-minute boat ride), Everglades City
•Sawgrass Recreation Park – Airboat Tour and Wildlife Interpretation with Croc Docs, Weston
- Dinner, Return to Hotel
Friday – Gather 7:00 am – Turtle Nesting Tour, Depart 8:00 am
•All Day Snorkeling and Kayaking with Salty Soul Adventures at Virginia Key – lunch at the park
- Dinner, Return to Hotel
Saturday – Depart at 8:00 am
•Gumbo Limbo Nature Center Tour and Turtle Rehabilitation Interpretation, Boca Raton
- Return to West Palm Beach Convention Center
SeaGrant and UF personnel will be available for questions and interpretation. All equipment will be supplied for participants. We will have water and snacks available on every trip as well as a fully stocked First Aid kit.