"Nature is just enough;
but men and women must comprehend
and accept her suggestions."
- Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921), minister, reformer, author
Remember when you were a kid and “arts and crafts” was a favorite activity, in and out of school? Many of our ongoing nature programs for children include crafting as a regular component. This month, two nature centers offer such programs, with an emphasis on nature. On Saturday, December 9, Nature Crafts at Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood encourages ages 6 to 12 to take inspiration from nature to create something unique for themselves or a friend or relative. The program, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., costs $2 per child. Call Anne Kolb (accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #4 and #12) at 954-357-5161 for additional information.
Also that same Saturday as well as Sunday, December 10, Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center in Davie will offer Nature Crafts for Kids, for ages 3 to 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The theme is “Nature’s Gifts,” and participants will create projects using natural and recycled materials. The program fee is $4 per child. For more info, call Long Key at 954-357-8797.
The following weekend, on December 16, the monthly Science Eye Saturday Safari at Everglades Holiday Park will have as its theme “Hand-Held Holiday Lights.” The program, from 9 to 11 a.m., will teach youngsters how to combine a simple battery with some recycled “trash” to make their own holiday light. Supplies are free to the first 50 participants. For details, call Science Eye at 1-800-2SCIENCE.
All Broward County regional and neighborhood parks, nature centers, and natural areas will be closed on Christmas Day, Monday, December 25. All parks will be open on New Year’s Day, Monday, January 1, 2017 (except Deerfield Island Park and the Markham Target Range). The holiday gate fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect at most regional parks on New Year’s Day.
The Science of Nature
Science plays a huge role in our understanding of nature, and nowhere is that more obvious this month than at Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach. The park kicks off the month on Sunday, December 3 with Insectigations, a two-hour exploration of the fascinating world of bugs. The free program, which runs from 2 to 4 p.m., includes crafts and other activities, along with a presentation at 2:30 p.m. by Paul Bardunias, from the University of Florida’s Department of Entomology and Nematology, who will bring in some of his favorite six-legged creatures for observation.
Next up: the latest installation of Investigate It! The monthly program, for ages 5 to 12, is from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, December 19 in the nature center’s Swallowtail Classroom. A park naturalist will lead scientific experiments on a topic to be announced. The fee is $5/child.
Finally, there will be two sessions of Super Science, from noon to 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 24, and from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday, December 28. These naturalist-led programs, for ages 7 to 12, are also in the Swallowtail Classroom and cost $5/child.
Are you challenged by the crowds and commercialism of the holiday season? Do you long for something to do other than shop? Look no farther than a Broward County nature center or natural area for alternatives.
- Have a picnic – Most sites have shelters, tables, benches, or other areas where you can sit and nosh while enjoying the scenery.
- Take a hike/walk – There are nature trails at all locations, and some offer bird walks, night hikes, and other adventures.
- Go on a photo safari – From large to small, every park has abundant flora and fauna just waiting to be discovered.
- Learn more about nature – All four of our nature centers have free exhibit halls featuring static and/or interactive displays.
For more information and ideas, visit our nature centers’ home pages: Anne Kolb, Fern Forest, Long Key, and Secret Woods. For links to our natural areas, visit our Website.
Don’t assume that you can’t go stargazing because of all the ambient nighttime light in South Florida. The stars, the planets, and more are visible – with the right equipment. On a quarterly basis, the nonprofit South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association (SFAAA) brings telescopes to Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek for the free astronomy program An Evening With the Stars. The last installment of 2017 will be on Friday, December 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. Participants will get a glimpse of what’s going on in the sky this season, and speakers will cover basic telescope techniques and general astronomy information.
The SFAAA also opens the Fox Observatory at Markham Park & Target Range in Sunrise every Saturday evening, weather permitting, from dusk to midnight. Admission is free, although the park’s regular weekend gate fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) is in effect.
All That Jazz
It’s been nearly five years since Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood started teaming up with the Music Club of Hollywood to present the free Music at the Mangrove series. The music has ranged from folk to pop, from chamber music to opera. This month the focus will be “Holiday Jazz,” with a concert from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 10, in the park’s Mangrove Hall.
The show features the Grabowski Trio, led by bassist Robert “Bebob” Grabowski. A longtime adjunct professor in jazz studies at Florida International University (FIU), Grabowski ranked #3 on the “Miami New Times” top-10 list of local jazz musicians in 2014. His trio will be joined by guest vocalist Wendy Pedersen, who holds music degrees from both FIU and the University of Miami.
For more information, call the nature center at 954-357-5161. Anne Kolb is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #4 and #12.
…And Everything Else
Other nature-related programming at Broward County parks in December. Many programs require fees and/or preregistration; contact the relevant park for details.
- Fri., Dec. 1, 12:15-12:45 p.m. – Bite-Sized Learning Lunch – Easterlin Park (954-357-5190)
- Fri., Dec. 1, 6-7 p.m. – Night Hike – Easterlin
- Sat., Dec. 2, 8:30-11 a.m. – Bird Walk – Deerfield Island Park (954-357-5100)
- Sat., Dec. 2, 9-11:30 a.m. – Basic Kayak Class – West Lake Park (954-357-5161)
- Sat., Dec. 2, 9 a.m.-noon – EcoAction Volunteer Workday – Fern Forest Nature Center (954-357-5198), Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center (954-357-8797), Miramar Pineland (954-357-8776)
- Sun., Dec. 3, noon-1 p.m. – Nature Lecture Series: Invasive & Exotic Species – Fern Forest
- Sun., Dec. 3, 7-8 p.m. – Supermoon Hike – Long Key
- Tues., Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-noon – Nature Tots – Miramar Pineland
- Tues., Dec. 5, 3:50-5 p.m. – K2 Nature Kids – Miramar Pineland
- Thurs., Dec. 7, 6-8 p.m. – Friends of Anne Kolb Meeting – Anne Kolb Nature Center (954-357-5161
- Thurs., Dec. 7, 7:30-9:30 p.m. – Sierra Club Meeting – Fern Forest
- Fri., Dec. 8, 9-10 a.m. – Guided Hike – West Creek Pineland Natural Area (954-357-5100)
- Fri., Dec. 8, 7:30-8:30 p.m. – Family Night Hike – Fern Forest
- Sat., Dec. 9, 8:30 a.m.-noon – Snake Plant Strike Force Workday – Highlands Scrub Natural Area (954-357-5100)
- Sat., Dec. 9, 9—10:30 a.m. – Scrub-a-Dub-Dub Cleanup & Hike – Military Trail Natural Area (954-357-5100)
- Sat., Dec. 9, 9 a.m.-noon – EcoAction Volunteer Workday – Quiet Waters Park (954-357-5100), Secret Woods Nature Center (954-357-8884)
- Sat. & Sun., Dec. 9 & 10, 10-11 a.m. – Nature Crafts for Kids – Long Key
- Sun., Dec. 10, 2-4 p.m. – Dan Barrow Memorial Bluegrass Jam – Fern Forest
- Tues., Dec. 12, 9-10 a.m. – Guided Hike – Quiet Waters
- Wed., Dec. 13, 7-9 p.m. – Florida Native Plant Society Meeting – Secret Woods
- Thurs., Dec. 14, 10-11 a.m. – Knee-High Naturalist – Long Key
- Thurs., Dec. 14, 7:30-9:30 p.m. – Florida Trail Association Meeting – Fern Forest
- Fri., Dec. 15, 6-7 p.m. – Night Hike – Crystal Lake Sand Pine Scrub (954-357-5100)
- Sat., Dec. 16, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. – EcoAction Volunteer Workday – Deerfield Island
- Sat., Dec. 16, 9:30-11:30 a.m. – Geocaching Adventure Series – Saw Palmetto Natural Area (954-357-5100)
- Sat., Dec. 16, 10-10:45 a.m. – Trail Stroll – Anne Kolb
- Sun., Dec. 17, 2:30-4 p.m. – Visit With Santa – Miramar Pineland
- Sun., Dec. 17, 2:30-4:30 p.m. – Team/Family Shutterbug Photo Hunt – Fern Forest
- Sun., Dec. 17, 5-7 p.m. – Twilight Jammin’ – Fern Forest
- Mon., Dec. 18, 6:30-8:30 a.m. – Sunrise Paddle – West Lake
- Tues., Dec. 19, 9-10 a.m. – Guided Hike – Easterlin
- Tues., Dec. 19, 9-11:30 a.m. – Paddling EcoTour – West Lake
- Tues., Dec. 19, 10-11 a.m. – Nature Tots – West Lake
- Wed., Dec. 20, 5-6 p.m. – Sunset Hike – Miramar Pineland
- Fri., Dec. 22, 9-10 a.m. – Guided Hike – Quiet Waters
- Sun., Dec. 24, 1-4 p.m. – Jamming in the Park – Secret Woods
- Tues., Dec. 26, 9-10 a.m. – Guided Hike – Helene Klein Pineland Preserve (954-357-5100)
- Wed., Dec. 27, 10-11 a.m. – Knee-High Naturalist – Long Key
- Wed., Dec. 27, 5:30-6:30 p.m. – Pineland at Night Hike – Miramar Pineland
- Thurs., Dec. 28, 2-2:30 p.m. – Aquarium: Behind the Scenes – Anne Kolb
- Fri., Dec. 29, 2-3 p.m. – Mangrove Adventure Hike – Anne Kolb
- Sat., Dec. 30, 9-11:30 a.m. – Basic Kayak Class – West Lake
- Sun., Dec. 31, 10-11 a.m. – Guided Nature Hike – Long Key
The Parks Foundation of Broward County is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2014 in support of Broward County Parks and Recreation Division. The foundation welcomes individual memberships and corporate partnerships at all levels to help promote our parks and programs, preserve our natural areas, and provide more green space for our community.