Public Programs

Cattle Egret

September 12, 2021

Dark Sky in Florida by Madelline Mathis


Have you ever seen the Milky Way? If so, you are one of the lucky ones. Light pollution is a problem that has been increasing by 2% every year since the 1950s and as a result, 99% of people now live under light-polluted night skies (where star visibility is minimal). Light pollution from improperly chosen fixtures has negative impacts on human health, safety, birds and bird migration, other wildlife, and plants. An Arizona-based nonprofit, International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), was founded in 1988 to protect pristine night skies and mitigate the already present light pollution through educating lighting designers, manufacturers, technical committees, and the public about controlling light pollution. They do this through the promotion of quality, responsible outdoor lighting, certified with a Fixture Seal of Approval as well as certifying cities, parks, and other places that have specific dark sky policies/ordinances that reduce light pollution and actively work to educate the public about the impacts of light pollution.

Madelline Mathis is a Rollins College 2020 alumna with a degree in Environmental Studies and minor in Psychology. She serves on her family board, the Brown Foundation, and volunteers weekly at the Boys and Girls Club of Eatonville to help manage their garden. During weekdays she is working full-time at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as an Environmental Specialist I and part-time as a consultant for the City of Groveland, helping them through the process of becoming the first Florida International Dark-Sky Certified Community. She grew up in the first IDA Certified Community in Texas, and this designation allowed her to see the Milky Way from her backyard, inspiring her passion for dark skies.

Because of continued concerns about COVID-19, this program will be held online via Zoom. Meeting notices with the link will be sent to everyone on our distribution list. If you haven’t received the notice by Sept. 8, contact


October 10, 2021 

The Big Sit!  


This event replaces our regular monthly meeting.  This is an annual, international event hosted by New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club. Some people have called it a “tailgate party for birders.” We sit inside a circle (under a tent) and count all the bird species we see or hear. All levels and ages of birders are welcome. Come for an hour or two or for the entire time. Bring your own binoculars, chair, water and snacks. Lake Jesup Park, 5951 Sanford Avenue, Sanford. 7:00 am-12 noon.  Accessible parking space. No restrooms.

We welcome all those who would like to enjoy time in nature. This gathering is accessible for all including those who have a disability, persons with a mobility challenge, blind or low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, persons who are neurodivergent or persons with any other intellectual, developmental or physical disability or concern.


November 14, 2021

Wild Turkeys by Jay Exum, Ph.D.


Wild turkeys are seen in a variety of habitats. How many times have you seen wild turkeys and wondered what they were eating, where they were going, and where they nest?  This presentation will answer those questions on this distinctive North American bird.  Dr. Exum will provide detail on their unique characteristics and habits, and unique aspects of the wild turkey, a distinctive North American bird.

Jay Exum received his Ph.D. from Auburn University in 1985. His dissertation focused on the ecology of the eastern wild turkey. Dr. Exum has provided ecological expertise on projects in Central Florida related to threatened and endangered species, wetlands ecology and large-scale conservation planning.  In his private practice, he has represented private businesses, counties, public agencies and non-governmental organizations on resource management, land acquisition programs, and comprehensive plans that assure protection of landscape linkages, and large tracts of natural lands. Jay has served as the chair of the advisory board for the Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries Department of the University of Tennessee, the president of the Friends of the Wekiva River, president of the Florida Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and chair of the Board of Directors of the Florida Wildlife Federation.


December 12, 2021

Nature Photography by Reg Garner


Reg will show his sensational photos of various natural locations around the Sanford area. During his presentation he’ll provide tips on how to photograph nature and birds.

Reg Garner is a professional photographer with a passion for capturing the beauty of nature with his camera. He spends his free time taking pictures on Lake Monroe, along beaches, natural springs and other areas.  Reg has received numerous awards including:  2015 Photographer of the Year (Professional Photographer’s Society), 2014 Artist of the Year (Seminole County Arts Foundation), 2009 Nature’s Best Photography Contest (Work displayed at Smithsonian National Museum, Washington DC). His studio is at 116 Park Avenue, Sanford.


January 9, 2022  

 St. Johns River by Lisa Rinaman, Riverkeeper


The St. Johns River is the longest river in Florida and its most significant one for commercial and recreational use. At 310 miles long, it flows north and winds through or borders twelve counties.  Numerous lakes are formed by the river including Lake Monroe in Sanford. Lisa will explain some of the ecological challenges relating to the river and her role as the chief advocate and the public’s voice for the river. 

Lisa Rinaman was a former staff member for Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton. She has helped implement numerous environmental initiatives and policies. Lisa was instrumental in leading the effort to develop and implement irrigation, fertilizer and Florida Friendly landscaping ordinances to better protect the St. Johns and local waterways. Also, she has played a key role in securing state funding for water quality improvements.


February 13, 2022

Florida State Parks by Robert Brooks, CPRP
Park Manager Wekiva River Basin State Parks


Wekiva River Basin State Parks encompasses three contiguous properties within Florida’s state park system: Wekiwa Springs State Park, Rock Springs Run State Reserve, and Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. These units of the Wekiva River Basin State Parks are located in Lake, Orange, Seminole and Volusia Counties. The parks are contiguous with natural and cultural resources connected.  Robert Brooks is the park manager for these parks. He will explain his role as well as the ecology and conservation challenges for the parks.


March 13, 2022

How It Happens: Plant Strategies to Attract Pollinators
by Neta Villalobos-Bell


In the plant world, reproduction requires the transfer of pollen from the male organ to the female organ. But this requires clever strategies by the plants to entice an unsuspecting animal to stop by for a visit ... and receive a reward.  How this happens is revealed in the presentation.

Neta Villalobos-Bell is a National Association Certified Interpretive Guide, Florida Certified Horticulture Professional, Certified Florida Master Naturalist, Former Master Gardener, Life Member Florida Native Plant Society, and 2018 Central Florida COX Conserves Heroes recipient. Neta has a passion for sharing her expertise and knowledge about the importance and benefits of Florida Native Plants in our environment.


April 10, 2022

Potluck & Paddle


We must cancel as the river is high and fast; we are concerned for safety.


This is our last meeting of the season. We will offer kayaking on the Wekiva River. Our activities will take place at the Russell homestead on Wekiva Park Drive near Katie’s Landing off SR 46 in Sanford. Kayaks are available or bring your own non-motorized watercraft. Gather at 8 am for kayaking.  Bring your own drink and a food item to share at the picnic lunch which will start around noon. We will provide plates, etc. Bring or wear appropriate river clothing since you could get wet. Weather is changeable this time of year so dress accordingly.

GPS Address: 164 Wekiva Park Drive, Sanford, FL 32771


2:00 pm
the 2nd Sunday of each month
September to April



Extension Education Building

University of Florida/IFAS Extension Seminole County

250 W. County Home Road

Sanford, FL 32773



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