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

Fall Wildflower Walk Scheduled for October 18th

Pine lily
Pine lily

On October 18th, Brenda Thomas – FGCU instructor and former EE Specialist for CREW – will be leading a fall wildflower walk at the CREW Trails. Fall blooms are special because they include such rarities as the endangered Pine Lily (also known as the Catesby’s Lily) and many grasses which seed out only during the autumn months. Come learn from an expert, enjoy a cooler fall day on the trails, and feel the magic of the seasons changing.

To register for the fall wildflower walk, go to

CREW Announces 4th Saturday Summer Walks at Bird Rookery Swamp

The CREW Land & Water Trust is pleased to announce new 4th Saturday Guided Walks at the Bird Rookery Swamp this summer. 4th Saturday Walks at Bird Rookery Swamp are offered FREE of charge on the 4th Saturday of each month, May through August. Join CREW Land & Water Trust volunteer naturalists, George Luther and Bob Melin, for an entertaining and informative 2.5-hour guided walk on a portion of the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trails near Naples, FL. 

Walks are open to the first 24 people who register. Walk-ins are welcome if space is available on the day of the walk. Registration for 4th Saturday Walks is online at

Bird Rookery Swamp Trail
Bird Rookery Swamp Trail


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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?

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