Mosquitos and More this December with the CREW Trust!

Looking to fill out your already bustling December calendar? We have something for everyone this December!

For the insectually curious and those itching for a bit of fun, join FGCU instructor and President of the Florida Mosquito Control Association Neil Wilkinson for Mosquitos of the Marsh: a CREW Strolling Science Seminar on Friday, Dec. 8. You’ll learn about the life cycles and histories of fresh floodwater and natural container species of mosquitos common to Southwest Florida. From identifying adult mosquitos caught in traps set the night before to using dip nets to survey for mosquiot predtaors, this is sure to be a can’t miss event! For more information or to purchase tickets, head to

Tuesdays are TrailDays at the CREW Marsh Trail! Volunteer naturalist and spider enthusiast Janet Bunch leads our free weekly guided walks from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. What can you expect in December? From the small boardwalk, you might spy string lilies blooming. Butterfly sightings may include Gulf Frittilaries and Zebra Longwings, both often spotted close to Suzanne’s Pavillion. The view from the observation tower will still show lush green sawgrass as the water levels are just beginning to dry down from our very wet rainy season. Red-shouldered hawks are pairing up and filling the air with their boisterous calls. As always, what we see depends on the day, which makes each walk different from the last! Register today at Can’t make it out to the trails on Tuesdays? You’re in luck! December’s Saturday Walk will be at the CREW Marsh Trails on Dec. 9; register at


The wading birds are flocking to Bird Rookery Swamp and will join us on our Wednesday walks!! Egrets and herons and Roseate Spoonbills are filling in the small ponds and are even visible at times from the trail parking lot. String lilies are blooming throughout the swamp and you may even spy an adult or juvenille water moccasin swimming slowly around the bases of the cypress trees and knees. The pied-billed grebes are back in the small canal and we’re hoping to see little tiny grebes this spring. We’re still waiting on the full trail to re-open but our Wednesday walks will continue, covering the shell path and boardwalk, then expanding onto the grassy traim once the district completes repairs and restoration. Sign up for your free spot today at

Members, make sure your calendar is marked for our Member Appreciation Picnic on Saturday, January 13! Want to join in the fun, but aren’t a member? You can become a member today and you’ll receive an invitation to our picnic, our very popular wine and cheese social under the stars; our quarterly newsletter; and discounts on Strolling Science Seminars and other CREW Trust programs.



How to make your wildlife observations count

For me, it started with something as simple as an odd bird call.

We heard the loud call at dusk and tiptoed into the backyard. I turned on my phone to record the sound and shushed the kids, afraid we would scare away the bird.

(apologies for the video being sideways- I was a bit excited)

A quick text to a birding friend revealed it was a Chuck-will’s-widow and, while it was new to us, it wasn’t as uncommon as we thought. A little curiosity about our backyard resident led to a bit of research and learning for our family. I added the bird to my lifetime birding list (which is admittedly shorter than I’d like it to be). The experience certainly meant something to my family but, beyond observation, would it count to anyone else?

Making our wildlife observations count is the topic of the CREW Trust’s final Strolling Science Seminar this season. Dr. Win Everham will lead us along the trail at Bird Rookery Swamp in Naples for a hands-on learning experience.

Our everyday observations can be scientific and can help conservation efforts. It’s just a matter of knowing how.


One of our volunteers, Tom Mortenson, wanted to learn more about the wildlife in his new Florida home. He set up game cameras, similar to those he had up north, on parts of the CREW Project. That led to his first images of Florida panthers and he now submits the data he collects to the FWC panther biologists. His curiosity led to his contributions as a citizen scientist.

From backyard calls to uncommon sightings, your observations count.

Want to learn how you can also be a citizen scientist? Join us on April 29 at 9 a.m. Tickets are $15 for members, $25 for non-members, and must be purchased in advance (

Strolling Science Seminar: Murder, Mutualism and Medicine

Love chocolate? Love caffeine?

If you do, then you are familiar with natural products produced by plants.

Join CREW Land & Water Trust and Dr. Maureen Bonness for an informative guided walk through Bird Rookery Swamp, located at 1295 Shady Hollow Blvd. in Naples, on Saturday, March 18 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Bonness will discuss plant natural products and how these products have profound effects in swamp ecology, including the interactions between plants and their swamp co-inhabitants. Toxins, colorants, scents, herbs and medicines are all plant natural products that humans use. While many plant products are used for their beneficial properties, some are used nefariously.

Tickets are  $15 for members and $25 for non-members; reservations are required and spaces are limited. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Sign up for these programs before season ends!

It’s almost March and we are nearing the end of our seasonal program schedule. If you haven’t reserved a spot on one of our guided walks or were waiting to purchase a ticket for a Strolling Science Seminar, check out our final program offerings and sign up today!

CREW Marsh Trails Guided Walks

Dates: March 7, 11, 21; April 4, 8, 18

Time: 9-11:30 a.m.

Place: CREW Marsh Trails, 4600 Corkscrew Road, Immokalee, FL 34142

Join Dr. David Cooper, Florida Certified Master Naturalist, for a guided walk along the marsh trails. You’ll learn about wildflowers, dragonflies, the importance of the sawgrass marsh and the history of the 60,000 acre CREW Project. Reservations required; visit

Zebra longwings at CREW Marsh Trails

CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Guided Walks 

Dates: February 25, 28; March 1, 2, 8,  9, 14, 15, 16, 22, 23, 25, 28, 29, 30; April 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 19, 22, 25, 26.

Time: 9-11:30 a.m.

Place: Bird Rookery Swamp Trails, 1295 Shady Hollow Boulevard West, Naples, FL 34120.

You don’t have to walk very far to see wildlife on this trail! Join one of four volunteer naturalists for a guided walk down our boardwalk and onto a wide grassy trail offering views of the swamp on both sides. You’ll learn about the swamp, the CREW Project, the importance of water and all of the wildlife along the trails, including alligators and wading birds. Reservations required; visit

photo by volunteer Bill Zaino

Birding with the Master – Bernie Master

Date: March 11

For information on place and time, please reserve your spot and purchase a ticket Cost is $15 for members, $25 for non-members. Registration is limited and walk-ins will not be accepted.

This hike is for the birds! Learn about winter residents and CREW nesters as well as what birds are using this valuable habitat and why.

An internationally recognized conservationist, Dr. Bernie Master has a Birding Life List that includes over three-quarters of the world’s bird species, in excess of 7,700 birds. He is the first American to see a representative of every bird family in the world.  He was honored by HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands for his contribution to conservation.  A previously unrecorded songbird in Colombia, Vireo masteri, the Choco Vireo, is named for his family and the discovery published in IBIS, October 1996.

Ovenbird, photographed by Dr. Bernie Master

SSS: Murder, Mutualism and Medicine

Date: March 18

For information on place and time, please reserve your spot and purchase a ticket at Cost is $15 for members, $25 for non-members. Registration is limited and walk-ins will not be accepted.

Join the CREW Trust and Dr. Maureen Bonness for a stroll along the CREW trails, where Dr. Bonness will use local plants to discuss the topic of plant natural products – a plant “language” generally inaudible to humans, yet with profound effects on interactions between plants and their swamp co-inhabitants. The primary focus is the role of plant natural products in swamp ecology, with an undertone of how people use these chemicals, sometimes nefariously.

Spring Wildflower Walk

Date: April 1

For information on place and time, please reserve your spot and purchase a ticket at Cost is $5 for members, $10 for non-members. Registration is limited and walk-ins will not be accepted.

Join FGCU instructor and wildflower expert Brenda Thomas for this fabulous walk to identify wildflowers and grasses along the trails. The spring flowers are always spectacular after the dry winter season. This is your chance to learn from someone whose passion for plants is unsurpassed!

Nature Walk for Families

Date: April 8

For information on place and time, please reserve your spot and purchase a ticket at Cost is $5 per family for members, $10 per family for non-members. Registration is limited and walk-ins will not be accepted.

Come join CREW for a fun family walk in the woods with activities that will get you dirty, inspire you and engage all your senses. This is a great opportunity for families new to the CREW trails to learn from a naturalist and become familiar with the family-friendly trails. You’ll learn about the CREW project and why it is important along with learning about the flora and fauna that call the trail systems home.

SSS: Making Wildlife Observations Count

Date: April 29

For information on place and time, please reserve your spot and purchase a ticket at Cost is $15 for members, $25 for non-members. Registration is limited and walk-ins will not be accepted.

Join Dr. John Herman for this hands-on strolling science seminar where you will learn how to turn your love of hiking into something more. On this hike, you’ll see how your every day observations can be turned into scientific data and used to help conserve wildlife.

photo by volunteer Bill Zaino



Is the humanity we see in animals really just a reflection of ourselves? Find out more at this Strolling Science Seminar

The humanity of wildlife: Exploring dangerous ideas that connect the experiences of humans and wildlife led by Billy Gunnels December 16, 2016, register here!billy gunnels

Join CREW Trustee Dr. Billy Gunnels on a fascinating stroll on the CREW Trails where we will explore anthropomorphism and its place in the scientific world. As children, we are taught to think about wildlife in very human terms. Animals, in all their various shapes and forms, are the most common protagonists in fables that serve as parables to teach us about morality, socialization, and other life lessons. This role of and perspective about animals changes dramatically as we mature and are taught to avoid such anthropomorphic perspectives as adults – wildlife are not people and people are not wildlife. This “adult” insight has value. However, anthropodenial is also scientifically inaccurate. In this strolling science seminar, we will look at cases where humans and wildlife share similar experiences and motivations and cases where they do not. This will provide a richer and more complete understanding of wildlife at CREW.

Billy Gunnels is a father, scientist, and educator. Professionally, he is an associate professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. Where he explores animal behavior, social evolution, and human-animal interactions in both research and teaching. When asked about CREW he replied, “ I love CREW and the role that this landscape has on our region. As such, I have served as a trustee on the CREW Land and Water Trust for many years”.

Registration is required, you can sign up by clicking here.

Want to learn more about anthropomorphism? Dr. Billy Gunnels recommends the two articles below:
De Waal, F. (1997). Are we in Anthropodenial? Discovery Magazine

De Waal, F. (2016). What I learned from Tickling Apes. New York Times
This is part of the CREW Strolling Science Seminar series, an annual series of scholarly walking seminars designed specifically for adults to gain in-depth knowledge about the science of CREW. Become a CREW Member and get a discount on your ticket TODAY. Non-members may join CREW and become eligible to take advantage of the member discount for all workshops by going to or by calling 239-657-2253.

Abandon the Fear: Learn How Cool Snakes Really Are


Join Dr. John Herman an instructor at FGCU for a fun filled hike at Bird Rookery Swamp. This hike is a part of our Strolling Science Seminar series, scholarly hikes for adults. On this strolling 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.

What to wear/bring: Wear comfortable outdoor walking clothes and closed-toed shoes. Please bring some water to drink and to use to rinse hands. Also please avoid putting sunscreen, lotion, hand sanitizer, or any other chemical on the palms of your hands during this session.

Registration is required:


 Become a CREW Member and get a discount on your ticket TODAY. Non-members may join CREW and become eligible to take advantage of the member discount for all workshops by going to  or by calling 239-657-2253.



Guided hike, tree coring, and more… December 4th 2015

Win everham

All of us have counted the rings on the cut stump of a tree when we were kids (or kids at heart).  Dendrochronology, or tree ring analysis, takes the patterns of growth visible in those wide and narrow growth rings and gives us clues about past climate and disturbance experienced by the trees in a forest.

You will be working alongside Dr. Win Everham, professor of disturbance ecology at FGCU, learning the techniques of coring trees and exploring some of the uses of this widely applicable research method. Come learn about research that has been going on out at CREW for over 10 year now, to sign up visit

Registration is required, if you have any questions call 239-657-2253.

Win everham


ACT NOW- Upcoming CREW Events

Pine lily

CREW kicks off this season with three great Saturday events:

Fungi/Mushroom Hunt with Ben “Mykes logos” Dion- September 26th 

Ben Dion leads mushroom walkThis walk will feature an in-depth introduction into the world of fungi, a discussion about fungi and their roles at CREW, and hands-on mushroom hunting and field identification. It takes place at the CREW Marsh Trails off Corkscrew Road. Benjamin Dion is the founder of the Southwest Florida Mycological Society. Known as “Mykes logos” in the mushroom world, Dion is a local expert on the identification, use, and ecological role of various fungi in the Southwest Florida area.



Fall Wildflower Walk with Brenda Thomas- October 3rd 

Join FGCU instructor and wildflower expert Brenda Thomas for this fabulous walk to identify fall-blooming flowers and grasses along the CREW Marsh Trails. The fall flowers are always spectacular after the wet growing season of summer. This is your chance to learn from someone whose passion for plants is unsurpassed!Pine lily





Florida’s Fabulous Spiders: A CREW Strolling Science Seminar- October 10th 

 This is CREW’s first Strolling Science Seminar- We are starting off the season with one of the top Spider Specialist, Dr. G.B. Edwards.

Do you know how many types of spiders are in the Florida and in world?  Do you know what the role of spiders are in nature?  Can you identify the few types of spiders that are medically important?  Do you know how to safely catch and release spiders in the home?  If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then this  program is for you.

We will go on a hike, looking for different kinds of spiders in their natural habitat.  In the fall, we should find many large orbweavers, but many other types of spiders as well.  Participants are encouraged to take photos, and in some cases, feed the spiders to observe their prey-capture behavior.  We will discuss do’s and don’ts of handling spiders!  Get all your questions about spiders answered!

Strolling Science Seminars 2014-2015

We had a great Strolling Science Seminar (SSS) series this season (say that 5 times fast). The SSS series started in 2011-2012 to provide adults with scientific knowledge from local experts. The experts engaged the participants in outdoor scientific study and enabled them to conduct citizen science as part of local, national, and global projects. Each event is filled with laughter, science, and new knowledge.

This year we were lucky to have:

  • Mad Batters of CREW- Kathleen Smith, FWC Biologistbat sss
  • Mosquitoes of the Marsh: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly- Neil Wilkinson, FGCUmosquito
  • Fire & Water: Primal Forces Shaping CREW Wildlife Habitats- Jim Schortemeyer & Joe Bozzo, SFWMD


  • The Gopher Tortoise: How Protecting One Species Actually Protects Hundreds- Dr. John Herman, FGCUjohn herman and group
  • Birding with the Master- Dr. Bernie Master & Tiffany Thornhill, FWC

Birding with the master 2015

We will start planning the 2015-2016 series of strolling science seminars this summer. If you have any ideas, comments, or contacts that you would like to share  for a SSS event please email Jessi Drummond at, or call 239-657-2253. All ideas are welcomed!

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