Navigating Nature, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Audubon Society, is a free camp for kids grades 4 through 8. Campers are given the opportunity to experience Nature up-close-and-personal through a variety of activities including nature walks, animal encounters, crafts, and hands-on science . Camp projects have included identifying and counting bird populations in conjunction with The Great Backyard Bird Count and collecting insect data as part of The University of Florida's Backyard Bark Beetle study! The program is staffed by local educators and features guest speakers from within the local scientific community. Navigating Nature is held monthly, October through May.
October 6 - Bird Identification/Field Marks
November 3 - Bats
December 1 - Evidence of Wildlife
January 5 - Vultures
February 2 - No camp . Campers are encouraged to attend Raptor Fest
March 3 - Insects
April 6 - Spring Migration
May 4 - Shorebirds
- Attending Navigating Nature is free, but registration is required. Advance registration helps us plan.
- Camp meets the first Saturday of the month, October through May. Camp begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 11:30 a.m.
- Meet in the classroom at the Boyd Hill Environmental Center, 1101 Country Club Way South, St. Petersburg (727) 893-7326
- Campers should expect to be outdoors and to get dirty! Please wear closed toe shoes and dress appropriately for the weather.
- Bring along a water bottle - you can fill it at the Environmental Center.
- Notebooks and binoculars will be provided.
- Contact Laura Packard at email@example.com with any questions.
- A monthly RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org helps us plan our supply list.
Our year so far:
Navigating Nature Wrap-up 2016-2017 - Laura Packard
This past season of Navigating Nature got off to a wet start - we had to cancel September’s session due to the heavy rains that flooded parts of Boyd Hill caused by Hurricane Hermine. From October through April we tended to spend more time exploring the preserve than time in the classroom. The kids were always interested in spotting and counting alligators on every outing, our highest count was five. We looked for birds and kept an eye on the resident Great Horned Owls. We caught and identified insects, and learned about native plants.
Two of the biggest highlights of the year were dissecting Barn Owl pellets, and catching insects. Ron Smith donated some locally collected Barn Owl pellets. The kids compared the contents of local pellets to those of Barn Owl pellets collected in other parts of the country. The most consumed prey for our local owls were rats. Boyd Hill’s Birds of Prey program brought a Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Eastern Screech Owl into the classroom for the students to observe and learn about. February through April, the Great Horned owls were on nest at Boyd Hill. The kids observed the behaviors of the adult owls and the young owlets through a spotting scope. A special thanks to Dave Goodwin for carrying and setting up the scope.
The other big hit of the season was collecting insects under the direction of Dave Goodwin. The kids loved running after the insects with their nets. Dave Goodwin gave specific instructions how to use the equipment and how to carefully remove the insects from the nets to insure their safe release after identification. No adults, kids or insects were harmed during this experience.
In all we had a great year. This year’s campers were great bird spotters and very nature knowledgeable. Their concern for wildlife and the importance for preserving habitat was evident through their questions, and past experiences. Please join us next year as we continue to navigate our way through nature. Check the St. Petersburg Audubon website in August for the 2017-2018 schedule and a slide show of our experiences this past season.
2015-2016 Navigating Nature Program Wrap-up - Laura Packard
This season, students explored the wildlife and habitats of Boyd Hill. Throughout the year, we encountered snakes, tortoises, raccoons, butterflies, insects, alligators, and of course many birds. They participated in scavenger hunts and toured the park via tram. The tram adventure allowed the kids to explore the outer parts of the park. Topics covered included, birds of prey, butterflies, bird habitats, and bird migration. One of the biggest highlights was the chicken coop and chickens. A couple of the girls got to take home freshly laid eggs.
We participated in The Great Backyard Bird Count in February. The kids spotted and identified twenty five species of birds in an hour’s time. The biggest thrill was a Roseate Spoonbill.
While discussing bird migration, we talked about the obstacles that birds encounter on their long journeys in the fall and spring. Tall buildings / windows, loss of habitat, and severe storms are just a few of the obstacles. Students learned how to make their yards more bird-friendly by putting out bird feeders and providing water to the migrating birds. In all, we had a great year and are anticipating bigger and better experiences next year.