Story of a CREW Partnership: Lighthouse of Collier

Sometimes it takes a new perspective to appreciate the beauty of a place. Recently, one of our partners, Lighthouse of Collier, Center for Blindness and Vision Loss visited CREW as part of our Nature’s Peace program. They made the adventurous trip to the Bird Rookery Swamp trail for a specialty guided walk for their 20 guests, all of whom have visual impairments. Patiently they unloaded from their bus, white canes in hand, taking in the powerful smell of cypress trees and fresh rainfall. 

The weather was perfect for a walk and our hike leader, Doug Machesney and other CREW Trust volunteers were ready with special sensorial things to do, like listening to the blustery wind blowing through the bald cypress trees and passing around sweet smelling exotic flowers. The shedding cypress needles reminded these astute observers of the seasonal changes taking place. Florida’s subtle fall giving walkers the sensation of autumn leaf piles as they crunched their way along the edges of the boardwalk.   

Everyone enjoyed when Doug pointed out the traces of a bear on the handrail. They each took their time running their fingers over the claw marks engraved deep into the boardwalk handrail. Each person helping the next by slowly guiding hands to the indentations. 

Furthering the challenges of some, several of the participants did not speak English. Fortunately, a leader emerged from the group and self-appointed herself as the translator. She listened attentively to Doug’s stories and quietly translated for her friends. At the close of the hike, while everyone loaded back on the bus, she told me, “I’m forever grateful to the people at Lighthouse of Collier. They’ve changed my life, so I try to do everything I can to help others like me.” 

We are also grateful to Lighthouse of Collier for partnering with us years ago so their clients get the opportunity to enjoy all that nature has to offer them at CREW. We’re also very grateful to YOU for making this Nature’s Peace program and all of our other programs possible.

CREW Trust announces 2019-2020 Season Programs

We know you’re excited for this season of programs and we can’t wait to share all the incredible hikes, bikes and talks with you. Register for something different every month or make visiting the CREW trails a part of your regular schedule with the weekly guided walks. Pop-up hikes and programs may be added when trail and weather conditions are right! Stay up-to-date on our website,

Registration for our 2019-2020 programs will open on Tuesday, September 3rd to CREW Trust Members. Non-member registration will open one week later on Tuesday, September 10th. You must be a current CREW Trust member to register during our first week, so please make sure your membership is up to date or join today online at

Strolling Science Seminars

Our scholarly walks for ages 18 and older are always a hit and sell-out quickly! This year we have four programs scheduled and may add more as schedules allow.

December 6: Florida Panthers– with Ashlee O’Connor 

January 18: Strange Plants in a Strange Land– Join Anne Reed, writer, storyteller and CREW Trust volunteer naturalist for a scholarly walk and talk on the history of our beautiful, pesky and sometimes deadly invasive species. 

February 7: Herpetology- with Shane Johnson

March 6: Nature by Any Other Name– with Dr. billY Gunnels

Strolling Science Seminar 2019

Specialty Walks

October 12: Fall Wildflower Walk– Join Brenda Thomas for a stroll along the trails where you’ll see the bounty of Florida’s fall wildflowers! And, if you’re lucky, it might be pine lily time.

January 24: Birding with Brian Beckner of Native Bird Boxes. These sessions are for everyone from serious birders to beginners.

April 14: Spring Wildflower Walk- Springtime means a new rush of color on the trails! Participants will stroll through the CREW Marsh Trails with Roger Hammer, author of several wildflower books including The Complete Guide to Florida Wildflowers. 

April 18: GeoCache Day- Milla and Pete will be hosting a day of Geocaching at the Cypress Dome Trail for everyone to come and explore the outdoors!

photo by Bill Zaino at Flint Pen Strand

Free Guided Walks

Our free guided walks schedule has changed this year and walks will be offered on select dates. 

Guided Walks

1st Tuesdays (Jan-Apr) at CREW Marsh Trails

3rd Tuesdays (Jan-Apr) at Cypress Dome Trails

Wednesdays (Nov-Apr) at Bird Rookery Swamp

Thursdays (Nov-Apr) at Flint Pen Strand Trails

Bike Tours

3rd Saturdays (Jan-Apr) at Bird Rookery Swamp


CREW Stanley Hole Golf Tournament: October 25 at Old Corkscrew Golf Club.

2020 CREW Concert Under The Stars & Silent Eco Auction: February 29, from 5-9 p.m. featuring the High Voltage Band at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs. Sponsorship options and tickets available on our website,

Members Only Events

January 21: Beer & Cheese @ Momentum Brewhouse

March 9: Full Moon Hike

Registration for members opens on September 3; for non-members on September 10. All programs require registration; visit after registration opens. CREW Trust members will receive an email on September 3 when registration opens.

Best Innovative Idea- Nature’s Peace at CREW

Nature’s Peace at CREW is an award-winning series of programs for early-stage Alzheimer’s patients or persons who are visually impaired  and their caregivers at the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trail.

George nature peace 2
Photo by News-Press

The Nature’s Peace program consists of a picturesque guided stroll over a boardwalk that overlooks a magnificent swamp habitat and frequently produces memorable encounters with butterflies, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. CREW Trust staff and volunteers stimulate the participant’s senses of touch, smell, and hearing by locating and identifying the many forms of Nature that live around every corner. The accompanying caretakers get a brief respite from their daily duties of patient care while enjoying their loved one’s interaction with nature.

The Nature’s Peace stroll is held each month, November through April. The stroll is relatively short. Participants must be physically capable of standing and walking about  0.7 of a mile over a period of  90 minutes. The program is free thanks to the contributions of the CREW Trust members.

Registration is required.

For Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers, register through the Alzheimer’s Support Network (239) 262-8388.

For visually impaired persons and their caregivers, register through Lighthouse of Collier (239) 430-3934.

Nature’s Peace at CREW received the 2013 Paradise Coast/Collier County Tourism Star Award for “Best Innovative Idea”.

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