Last Chance: End of year Giving #Givingtuesday

The CREW Trust is wrapping up its 25th anniversary with a year-end giving campaign centered around #GivingTuesday.

The campaign started December 2nd, 2014 and goes through December 31st.

 flyer for #givingtuesday

Help us raise $25,000 by the end of the year for our Education Fund. Donate online today at

  • Donors of $250 or more receive 4 general admission tickets to the CREW Concert and Silent Eco-Auction on March 21st, 2015.
  • Donors of $150 will be entered into a drawing for a variety of nature-related books
  • All donors of $25 or more will receive a link to a special set of CREW Wildlife photos taken by some of the best photographers in the area.

Your gift is an investment in the future of southwest Florida – helping us to provide more high quality environmental education experiences for people of all ages! With over 42,000 annual visitors to the CREW trails, there is much more to be done.

Help us make a difference. Give big. Give small. But give today.

Donate here picture

Identify the Plant and Give the Gift of Education

Can you identify the plant in this photo?

dog fennel

This plant, with its feathery foliage and towering stature, grows alongside the trail out at the CREW Marsh Trails. The trails get a lot of visitors this time of year, especially 3rd graders from Collier County as part of their field trips to CREW. Schoolchildren visit CREW with their teachers and spend half of their morning on a nature hike, guided by our very own Jessi Drummond, who leads them through stops that feature explanations about prescribed burns, how to identify poison ivy and why it’s an important food source for deer, and even, if they are lucky, investigating scat (most often Bobcat scat). The other half of their field trip is spent dip netting and identifying the different living organisms in their water samples. The kids then have lunch, and leave- hopefully- with a pretty clear idea of why the watershed is important, with discussions that focus on habitat, the water cycle, and how the marshlands help clean our water.

This plant that is pictured above is one of our sensory teaching tools. Jessi stops with the students, takes off a few leaves, and passes them around to the students. “What do you smell?” she asks as little hands eagerly shoot up in the air. The students share that they smell everything from licorice to mint, and Jessi then lets them know that she smells pickles when she smells this plant which is Dog Fennel. Tying in their senses- hearing, touch, smell, sight- is an important part of the field trip for so many kids who just don’t spend enough time outside.

Education is a very important part of our mission at CREW, and this year, we’ve got a fundraising campaign for the month of December. Our goal is to raise $25,000, and an end-of-year gift from you, our supporters and members, can make that happen. It’s part of #GivingTuesday, an effort by many non-profits nationwide to remind everyone that after Black Friday and Cyper Monday, sometimes it’s nice to find a way to give back and pay it forward. Your donation will help further our education efforts at CREW and support all of our educational programs, including our field trips.

You can find out more about our #GivingTuesday campaign on our website ( All donors receive a link to a special set of photographs of our CREW wildlife and donors at higher levels can receive special goodies, like tickets to our Concert and Silent Eco-Auction in March.

Next time you are out on the CREW Marsh Trails, watch out for the Dog Fennel, and take a moment to appreciate how this plant on the side of the trail has such a huge impact on 3rd graders in Collier County.

– Anne Reed

group of students on the CREW trails

CREW Strolling Science Seminar Series Resumes November 13th

Strolling Science Seminars 2013 - 2014On November 13th, 2014, the fourth year of CREW’s popular Strolling Science Seminar series for adults will launch with a much-requested repeat of “Mad Batters of CREW” – a science workshop about bats, led by Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Kathleen Smith.

This seminar will take place at Bird Rookery Swamp from 4:30 – 7:30 PM. Space is limited, so register early at .

The full Strolling Science Seminar series includes:

  • November 13, 2014 – Mad Batters of CREW (Bats) w/ Kathleen Smith
  • December 5, 2014 – Mosquitoes of the Marsh with Neil WIlkinson
  • January 9, 2015 – Fire & Water: Primal Forces Shaping CREW Wildlife Habitats with Jim Schortemeyer & Joe Bozzo
  • February 7, 2015 – The Gopher Tortoise: How Protecting One Species Actually Protests Hundreds with Dr.John Herman
  • March 10, 2015 – Birding with the Master with Dr. Bernie Master & Tiffany Thornhill

Each seminar includes hands-on activities and in-depth scholarly discussions about the science of the topics and their relationships to the CREW watershed and southwest Florida. Registration is open for all the strolling science seminars at . CREW Strolling Science Seminars are for adults 18 years and older.


Teachers & Parents: October is National “Go on a Field Trip” Month

October is National “Go on a Field Trip Month”, and there’s no better way for kids to learn science than outdoors in nature. Just look at all the new research that shows the benefits of getting kids outdoors to learn.

CREW Marsh Trail - Field Trip invite

So, grab your students, kids, friends, loved ones, and come to CREW to take a walk, explore the wetlands, find frogs and bugs, watch the fall migrating birds fly through and just enjoy the calming, healing world that is CREW!

Science Seminar: Paleo-Plants that the Dinosaurs Ate – Ferns of CREW

bracken fern
bracken fern

There are still tickets available for this CREW Strolling Science Seminar, Paleo-Plants that the Dinosaurs Ate – Ferns of CREW. Jack Berninger, teacher and naturalist, will lead this in-depth strolling seminar to help you learn to identify ferns and their relatives and discuss the natural history and science related to these primitive plants. Register today for this popular seminar.

hand fern
hand fern


Enhanced by Zemanta

CREW Trails in Southwest Spotlight Magazine

spotlight logoCheck out the article on Florida Black Bears by CREW’s environmental education specialist, Deb Hanson, in the current issue of Southwest Florida Spotlight magazine (p. 43) – on shelves and online now. Deb is writing this monthly column for Spotlight to highlight interesting wildlife and plants that can be seen at CREW.

What topics would you like to see covered in future columns?

Enhanced by Zemanta

2012-2013 Strolling Science Seminars

After an outstanding first year of Strolling Science Seminars, we are happy to announce our second season of scholarly outdoor seminars for adults. The CREW Strolling Science Seminars is a series of six scholarly walking lectures – with some hands-on activities thrown in – designed specifically for inquiring adults. Each seminar engages participants in scholarly discourse and citizen science on a specific topic related to the watershed and wildlife of CREW.

Seminar leaders are experts in their fields – either academic professors or working professionals in environmental sciences. Gain in-depth knowledge, hands-on field experiences, and get access to exclusive online resources.

Fee per seminar: $15 CREW Members, $25 non-members

Seminole bat (Photo credit: FFWCC)

November 15, 2012—4:30 – 7:30 PM – The Mad Batters of CREW (Bats), with Kathleen Smith, FFWCC Biologist

Have you ever wondered how scientists catch bats or how they determine what species of bat is flying above you?  Come learn about these fascinating creatures of the night in this seminar.  We’ll dispel myths about bats, teach you their importance in our ecosystem, and tell you how you can help.

The presentation will describe native bat species found at CREW and their role in the ecosystem. Bats are critically important to the functioning of the natural ecosystem by consuming insects and agriculture pests.

Participants: Click here for resources and more information about Bats

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Photo credit: Brenda Thomas)

December 15, 2012—9:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Snake in the Grass: Not Always a Bad Guy (Snakes) WITH DR. JOHN HERMAN, FGCU PROFESSOR

Snakes may be the most maligned and misunderstood group of animals in the natural world; long-serving as a symbol of evil in many cultures. However, the reality is more closely outlined in a quote by noted American herpetologist Clifford Pope, “snakes are first cowards, then bluffers, and last of all warriors.” On this expedition you will learn how to safely observe and share outdoor areas with snakes, as well as their importance to the ecosystem.

Any ecosystem, including CREW, can only truly be healthy if all of its parts are filling their roles. We can’t pick and choose which parts to protect based on if we find them “cute” or “cuddly”. This seminar’s purpose is to bring snakes out from the shadows of fear and into the light of respect and protection.

Click here for resources and more information about snakes.

January 5, 2013—9:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Evolution & Natural Selection, with Dr. Billy Gunnels, FGCU

Evolution is the most powerful force in life, shaping all interactions and features of the natural and human environment. The beauty and diversity that you experience every moment of your life is a direct result of evolution. This process is so critical that the survival of every single species depends on evolution; a world without evolution would result in the extinction of all life on planet Earth. Furthermore, evolution is a never-ending phenomenon. Evolution is not history, evolution is not dead, and evolution is not static. Evolution is a dynamic phenomenon that can be observed during any walk through the woods, visit to the hospital, or bite of food.

Come join us as we examine the life altering reality of evolution and natural selection in the CREW.  Dr. billY Gunnels is a dynamic, passionate, knowledgeable educator. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the best teachers in southwest Florida.

Click here for resources and more information about snakes.

February 8, 2013—9:00 AM – 12:00 PM – “It’s a Zoo Out There” – Identification and Ecology of Exotic Plants and Animals with Roger Clark and John Cassani

Participants will learn about hydrological impacts that cause or contribute to invasion of exotic plants and how to identify some of the most common exotic plants and animals occurring in different habitats at the Corkscrew Well Field, which is a Lee County Utilities water plant. Howard Wegis with Lee County Utilities will give an introduction to the wellfield and the relationship of water use to healthy native plant communities. Additionally, we will discuss the impact that exotic plants and animals have on native biota at the well field and methods used to manage exotic biota.

Understanding the impacts of altering ecological processes will provide a broader understanding of how ecosystems are changing as a result of hydrologic alterations and exotic biota impacts which often follow. Examples of how exotic plants and animals affect competition, predation, disease transmission and parasitism will be provided in the context of ecosystem function.

Julia butterfly (Photo credit: Rich Leighton)

March 8, 2013—9:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Dancing Colors and the Tigers of the Sky: The Butterflies and Dragonflies of CREW Wildlands, with Dr. Clyde E. Sorenson, NC State University

A master storyteller and teacher, Clyde has been voted a favorite professor by students at NC State University. South Florida is a uniquely tropical region in the continental United States, and its insect fauna dramatically illustrates this. Of the 155 regularly occurring butterflies in Florida, 88 can be found in and around CREW properties; about 25 of these won’t be found any further north! There are also about 130 species of dragonflies and damselflies in the state. Among all these species are some of the most spectacular insects in North America, and every one of has an important and interesting role in the ecosystem it inhabits. Come learn about this unique and beautiful sub-tropical diversity!

Many of the butterflies of CREW have important relationships with native host plants which may be scarce in the rapidly developing, non-protected areas surrounding the properties. All of the dragonflies and damselflies of CREW rely on healthy, high quality aquatic habitats during their immature phases, and all play critical roles as vigorous predators of other arthropods both in the aquatic habitats of their youth and the aerial habitats of their adulthood. During this presentation, we will not only address identification of these insects; we will also try to impart an appreciation for their ecological significance.

Click here for resources and more information about butterflies and dragonflies.

Panther at CREW – 2012 (Photo credit: Bob Melin)

April 26, 2013—9:00 AM – 12:00 PM – The Panther Tale, with Marc Criffield, FFWCC Panther Biologist

Florida panthers are where it’s at! Come and learn what a panther is, why kittens have a tough life, how to catch a panther, and how much space a panther really needs! Panthers are one of the most recognizable and endangered species in Florida as well as the official state animal and only the citizens of Florida can save them!

Participants will gain the perspective that CREW provides a habitat island in a sea of development and intensive land use which is critically important to help maintain the Florida panther in its current range and sustain the species into the foreseeable future. Click here for resources related to Florida panthers.

Participants: Click this link for resource pages on Citizen Science. To get more info on resources related to tall the seminar topics, go to our homepage and search (top right corner) for the topic by name.

The Strolling Science Seminars are supported in part by a Public Outreach Grant from the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP). The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program is a partnership to protect estuaries in southwest Florida from Venice to Estero Bay.


Other Adult Education Opportunities: The CREW Trust offers other specially designed interpretive hikes and field trips for adult groups – from garden clubs to leadership teams to local businesses. These hikes typically last 2 to 3 hours and include information about the history of CREW, the importance of the watershed to quality of life, water and wildlife issues, and natural history of the land. To schedule a hike for your adult group, email or call the office using the contact information on our home page.

Strolling Science Seminars Wrap Up with Pollinators

billY Gunnels leads a Strolling Science Seminar

Our inaugural season of Strolling Science Seminars (SSS) – scholarly hikes for adults – wrapped up on Saturday April 28th with FGCU professor of animal behavior billY Gunnels leading a hike on “Pollinators” at the CREW marsh. Ten folks eagerly listened and asked questions as billY showed various flowers and discussed the enchanting and sometimes puzzling pollinating behaviors of bees, wasps, butterflies, and other insects.

It was a fabulous end to our first-ever SSS series, and we look forward to another great series next fall and winter. If you have suggestions for topics or speakers for our adult-only scholarly science hikes, let us know!

%d bloggers like this: