Education Programs & Events

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COVID-19 Updates

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Closures, Cancellations and Updates Related to Coronavirus.

We have limited group sizes to comply with social distancing.  Please check out our online and in-person program offerings.  Face coverings are required to participate in certain programs.

Please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org if you have any questions regarding our programs. 

Register online for Sunday Yoga at the NEST

EcoEvents: Outdoor Education Programs & Events Calendar

All of our public events are open to individuals and immediate family members. For groups, we ask that each family register individually. Large group reservations for public programs will not be accepted. If you have a school, camp, club, or other group that would like to participate in a program, please contact sarah.denison@mymanatee.org to set up a private program.

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April 2021 Calendar of Events

Download a Printable Version of the April Calendar of Events

Friday Apr 2nd
, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AMStorytime and Nature: Who Likes Rain?Bring your little ones to Conservatory Park for an interactive storytime about spring! We will be reading “Who Likes Rain?” by Wong Herbert Yee. Follow an excited little girl as she discovers who likes rain – and who doesn’t! Encourage outdoor exploration and take a stroll with us as we listen to the sounds of nature. Program suitable for children 5 and under and their families. Reservations recommended. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/145298789591. For more information please contact sara.alvarezcollazo@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6044. Conservatory Park – Pavilion

Saturday Apr 3rd, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AMKeep Manatee Beautiful: First Saturday CleanupThis year, Keep Manatee Beautiful  we will be hosting a cleanup event on the first Saturday of each month. Come out and help us Keep Manatee Beautiful by cleaning up G.T. Bray Park! Volunteer opportunity suitable for all ages. Program sponsored by Keep Manatee Beautiful in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Reservations required. To register please visit https://www.manateebeautiful.com/event-details/gt-bray-1st-saturday-cleanup. For more information please contact keep@manateebeautiful.com. G.T. Bray Park – Recreation Center

Saturday Apr 3rd, Session 1: 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM, Session 2: 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM, Session 3: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PMYouth Archery (3 Sessions)Set your sights on the exciting outdoor activity of archery! This program will provide participants with basic archery instruction, familiarization with archery equipment, and instruction in shooting techniques that create successful archers. All equipment will be provided for use. Program is suitable for children ages 6 to 16. Program sponsored by the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Three identical sessions are offered to limit group size and facilitate distancing.  Please register for only one session each month. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://ryearchery.eventbrite.com. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org. Rye Preserve – Sheriff's Youth Ranch

Saturday Apr 3rd, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PMRobinson Preserve Paddle YogaExperience the zen and bliss of yoga during a beautiful guided paddleboard yoga class by Salty Buddha Paddle & Yoga Co. The session includes brief on-land instructions and a demonstration for beginners to get a feel for the sport and for experienced practitioners to improve their technique. Next, is a short paddle journey followed by an anchored yoga session on the boards. Each class is suitable for all levels, with options available for experienced practitioners to make their session more challenging, as well as gentle modifications for those seeking a restorative experience. Program suitable for adults. Program sponsored by Salty Buddha Paddle & Yoga Co. in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Online registration is required at least 24 hours in advance. To register please visit https://www.saltybuddhaco.com/registration. For more information please call (941) 932-3671. $37 Participant Fee (Includes Equipment Rental). Robinson Preserve – 17th Ave NW Entrance

Wednesday Apr 7th, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PMSoar in 4 Family NightSoar in 4 is a monthly drive-thru program the first Wednesday of each month in Bradenton. Families drive by 14 demonstration tables (facilitated by Manatee County teachers, non-profit organizations, and volunteers) to learn how to use various materials to support the ‘spotlight book,’ as well as incorporate take-home items to continue to play, create, learn, and explore at home together. These monthly events provide families with the resources and information to become their child’s best ‘first teacher’ at home. All activities are aligned to classroom learning. Program suitable for children and their families. No reservations required. For more information please visit https://www.soarin4.org/. DeSoto Mall – GoStoreIt Parking Lot

Friday Apr 9th, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PMRobinson Expansion Sunset PaddleJoin us for an easy sunset paddle along the newly re-opened Robinson Preserve Expansion!  Learn about the ongoing habitat improvements and future plans for this fantastic new addition to Manatee County's preserve system while enjoying a sunset on the water. Program suitable for ages 16 and older who can meet the County's minimum eligibility requirements. Participants must have their own canoe or kayak and safety gear. All participants must wear a life jacket and bring a flashlight or headlamp and whistle. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/146766449401. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org. Robinson Preserve 9th Ave NW – South Entrance Kayak Launch

Friday Apr 9th, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PMAir Potato RoundupJoin us for a day in the pines, taking out invasive air potato and Ceasar weed along the trails of Conservatory Park!  Give back to this neighborhood park and help us improve native habitat for the creatures who live there, all while getting a light workout at this family-friendly volunteer event! Program is suitable for all ages, volunteers must be 16 or older to volunteer without a guardian present. Reservations are required. To register please contact michelle.leahy@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6035. Conservatory Park

Saturday Apr 10th, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AMMaster Gardener Tour: Riverview Pointe PreserveCasually stroll through to enjoy the beautiful Riverview Pointe Preserve and learn about Florida's native plants and inhabitants of a coastal environment. Suitable for all ages. Tour begins in the parking area of DeSoto National Memorial Park and enters into Riverview Pointe Preserve. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://riverview_pointe_preserve.eventbrite.com. Riverview Pointe Preserve

Saturday Apr 10th, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AMMaster Gardener Tour: Emerson Point PreserveCasually stroll through to enjoy the beautiful Emerson Point Preserve and learn about Florida's native plants and inhabitants of a coastal environment. Suitable for all ages. Please meet at the first parking area on the RIGHT at the Observation Tower (not at the classroom) at 9 AM. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://emerson_preserve.eventbrite.com. Emerson Point Preserve – Observation Tower Parking Lot

Saturday Apr 10th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PMFamilies Flock Together: Water PowerFollow the journey of a drop of water, from rainfall to faucet, and explore the water cycle with interactive activities and games at this family-friendly event! Program suitable for children and their families. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/145304927951. For more information please contact sara.alvarezcollazo@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6044. Conservatory Park – Pavilion

Saturday Apr 10, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PMTortoise Talk: Gopher Tortoise Day CelebrationJoin us for a celebration of Gopher Tortoise Day at this informal program on the Valentine House lawn.  Watch our education tortoise Genbu graze! Stop by and say hello, get a chance to meet him up close, and ask any questions you may have. Crawl through a human-size burrow replica and learn all about what tortoises need to survive, how we care for our tortoise, why we have him, and what efforts we can take to protect these important members of our Florida ecosystems. Program suitable for all ages. Reservations are required. To register please contact coral.bass@mymanatee.org. Robinson Preserve, 17th Ave NW Entrance – Valentine House Lawn

Saturday Apr 10th, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PMCreek Cleanup at GT Bray ParkBring your wellies or wading boots for an adventurous afternoon cleaning the creek! This freshwater stream empties into Puertosueno Park and Palma Sola Bay and is home to many creatures, including turtles, ducks, and fish. After the service project, we will look closely and examine the invertebrates that call this creek home! Program suitable for volunteers ten and older, but participants must be sixteen or older to volunteer without a guardian present. Reservations are required. To register please contact michelle.leahy@mymanatee.org or call 941-742-5923 ext. 6035. GT Bray Park – 51st Street /  Dog Park Entrance

Wednesday Apr 14th, 8:30 AM – 10:30 AMManatee Audubon Society Birding Tour: Emerson PointSearch the skies for Florida’s fabulous fliers! Our Audubon guide will lead participants on a tour through Emerson Point’s coastal hammock and mangrove habitats. Check out the “locals” as well as the migratory birds that are wintering here. Program suitable for all ages. Program sponsored by the Manatee County Audubon Society in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Program limited to 12 participants. Reservations are required. To register please call (941) 592-7622. Emerson Point Preserve – Visitors Center

Thursday Apr 15th, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PMWildlife Spotlight: ShorebirdsFound along the sandy coastline, shorebirds are a diverse, unique group of animals! Join us for a sunset walk along Coquina Beach to look for shorebirds like skimmers, plovers, and gulls, and learn to identify them. Discover the important role shorebirds play in our ecosystem, and enjoy the beautiful beach sunset. Program suitable for adults Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/145556123283. For more information please contact elena.burke@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6036. Coquina Beach – Café

Thursday Apr 15th, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PMNeal Coastal CleanupThe Anna Maria Sound needs your assistance! Join us for a sunset experience like no other. Bring your grabbers and galoshes, waders and water shoes, and help us remove marine debris from this historic site. Our paddlers will thank you! Your hard work will help keep the beaches beautiful and the wildlife safe. This is a great opportunity for teens looking to earn volunteer hours. Program suitable for all ages. Reservations are required. To register please contact michelle.leahy@mymanatee.org or call 941-742-5923 ext. 6035. Neal Preserve

Friday Apr 16th, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AMSeashell Shore WalkCalling all beachcombers and seashell enthusiasts! Join us for a relaxing walk on the beach to search for seashells and learn to identify them. This program will explore what makes mollusks unique and the amazing adaptations that help them to survive in the wild. Learn about ethical seashell collecting methods while discovering a new appreciation for our beautiful shorelines. Program suitable for all ages. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/144506588095. For more information please contact elena.burke@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6036. Coquina Beach – South Jetty

Friday Apr 16th, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AMTall Tails Tribe: Float Like a Feather, Sink Like a StoneSome objects float on the water, some drop to the bottom, and some do neither!  Bring your preschooler for a hands-on exploration of buoyancy. Discover how objects react differently in salt and fresh water, and finish the program by making your very own boat. Program suitable for preschool-age children. Reservations are required. To register please contact coral.bass@mymanatee.org. For more information please call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6034. Emerson Point Preserve – Classroom Pavilion

Saturday Apr 17th, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AMMaster Gardener Tour: Rye PreserveTake a hike through upland habitats along the beautiful Rye Branch and learn about Florida's native plants, natural history, and early settlement of the area. Suitable for all ages. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://rye_preserve.eventbrite.com. Rye Preserve

Tuesday Apr 20th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PMStroller Stroll: Emerson Point PreserveRound up your baby buggies, walking shoes, and your little ones for a rolling naturalist-led walk through Manatee County's wild spaces. Open your child’s eyes to the sights, smells, and feel of Florida’s great outdoors. Trek the nature walk trail and have your child experience these wild spaces first-hand. Meet other nature explorer families with kids of a similar age. Program suitable for children ages 0 to 4 and their families. Reservations are required. To register please contact coral.bass@mymanatee.org. For more information please call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6034. Emerson Point Preserve – Classroom Pavilion

Thursday Apr 22th, 8:00 AM – 10:30 AMManatee Audubon Society Birding Tour: Leffis KeySearch the skies for Florida’s fabulous fliers! Our Audubon guide will lead participants on a tour through Leffis Key’s coastal hammock and mangrove habitats. Check out the “locals” as well as the migratory birds that are wintering here. Program suitable for all ages. Program sponsored by the Manatee County Audubon Society in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Program limited to 12 participants. Reservations are required. To register please contact kathydoddridge56@gmail.com or call (941)-705-3862. Leffis Key Preserve – Parking Lot

Thursday Apr 22nd, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PMStories and Service Book Club: Braiding SweetgrassLooking for a volunteer opportunity in the cool of the evening at beautiful Emerson Point Preserve? Come out to our book club with a service twist. Every month we will read a different book about Florida, and discuss, and follow it with a restoration project in the preserve. This month will be “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Program suitable for bookworms 14 and up. Reservations are required. To register please contact michelle.leahy@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6035. Emerson Point Preserve – The Point

Friday Apr 23rd, Session 1: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM, Session 2: 3:00 PM - 4:00 PMHomeschool Science Club: Map Making & Orienteering (2 sessions)Put your world into perspective and navigate the habitats of Emerson Point from an animal's viewpoint! Join us to learn how to make your own map and legend, and get ready to run as we compete in our very own orienteering arena.  Orienteering is a competitive sport that requires participants to navigate through a series of checkpoints the fastest! Program suitable for students ages 8-13. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/145318813483. For more information please contact sara.alvarezcollazo@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6044. Emerson Point Preserve – Large Pavilion

Saturday Apr 24th, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AMMaster Gardener Tour: Perico PreserveExplore one of Manatee County's newest preserves and learn about Florida's native plants, how they benefit wildlife, and how they can be used in the home landscape.  Learn about the wide variety of ecosystems on display and how the preserve was transformed into what it is today. Program suitable for all ages. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://perico_preserve.eventbrite.com. Perico Preserve

Saturday Apr 24th, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PMExplore Nature! Outreach BoothOur Explore Nature! Outreach Booth brings nature to your local park! Stroll by to learn about the exciting recreational opportunities that Manatee County's parks and preserves have to offer.  A naturalist guide will be on-site to answer your questions and share a variety of animal biofacts! Program suitable for all ages. No reservations required For more information please contact sara.alvarezcollazo@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6044. East Bradenton Park

Monday Apr 26th, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PMFamilies Flock Together: Sunset Dip NetBring the whole family on an adventure to the "point" of Emerson Point Preserve and explore what lies beneath the waves. Come discover the wide variety of unique creatures that live on our shorelines and learn how to identify them. You'll meet marvelous mollusks, sensational seagrasses, and maybe some cool crustaceans! For this program, we will be in the water dip netting, so be sure to bring closed-toed shoes and clothes that can get wet and a towel. Program suitable for children and their families. Reservations are required To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/144693101963. For more information please contact elena.burke@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6036. Emerson Point Preserve – The Point

Thursday Apr 29th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PMGreen Explorers: Nature's SymphonyFrom the chirp of a chickadee to the wind rustling tree leaves, nature's symphony can be found all around us! Join Naturalist Coral to discover different ways nature makes music, and see if you can make your very own using only natural items found at Emerson Point Preserve.  Green Explorers is a low-structure, highly social and experience-based program designed to promote play with nature. Program suitable for children ages 6 to 12 years old, but all ages are welcome. Reservations are required. To register please contact coral.bass@mymanatee.org. For more information please call 941-742-5923 ext. 6034. Emerson Point Preserve – Classroom Pavilion

Thursday Apr 29th, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PMCareer Night at the NESTAre you interested in a career in nature? Join us at The NEST at Robinson Preserve for an informative evening showcasing local professionals and careers in the environmental and heritage resource fields. This is an opportunity to discover what it takes to get into the field of science! Network with these professionals from a variety of local organizations and discover careers that help make a difference in our community. Program recommended for high school and college students, however, all ages are welcome. Face coverings are required to enter the building. Reservations recommended. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/145561459243. For more information please contact elena.burke@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6036. Robinson Preserve – Mosaic NEST

Recurring Events

Saturday, Apr 3rd, 10th, and 17th, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AMRobinson RunnersJoin us on Saturday mornings to breathe in the fresh air, challenge yourself, and create a community. Savor the trip along the 1.6 and 3.2-mile routes through Robinson Preserve and notice as life becomes a little more vibrant. The group leader will offer a warm-up, then participants may run, walk, or stroll at their own pace followed by a cool-down stretch offered at the finish.  Participants will be rewarded for their efforts by our partners Fit 2 Run and Bayshore Nutrition. Program suitable for adults. No reservations required. For more information please call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6047. Robinson Preserve – Mosaic NEST

Saturday Apr 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PMSaturday Mornings at the NESTJoin us at the Mosaic Center for Nature, Exploration, Science, and Technology for a morning of discovery. Walk the grounds of the historic Reasoner Tract and observe botanical giants collected from around the world. Explore the canopy boardwalk among the banyans, climb to the top of the crow’s nest, take in breathtaking panoramic views, and make an exciting exit from the building via slide. Learn about upcoming programs and exciting new additions to Robinson Preserve. Program suitable for all ages. Face coverings are required to enter the building. No reservations required. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org. Robinson Preserve – Mosaic NEST

Sunday Apr 11th, 18th, and 25th, 10:30 AM – 11:45 AMRise & Shine YogaRevitalize and Rejuvenate your Mind, Body, and Spirit! This yoga class is designed to blend awareness of breath, physical movement, and mindfulness to promote clarity of mind while developing physical strength and stamina, increasing flexibility, burning calories, and detoxifying the body! Increase your overall well-being by ending and beginning your week with this empowering and uplifting flow! Program suitable for adults. Program sponsored by Brandy Gray of MomWifeSOUL Yoga in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Participants must provide their own yoga mats. Online registration is highly encouraged as spaces are limited. To register please visit https://parks.mymanatee.org/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/search.html?primarycode=110006. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6042. $10 Participant Fee Payable online. Robinson Preserve – Mosaic NEST

Multiple Days, Apr 3rd, 8th, 10th, 13th, 24th, and 27th, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PMRobinson Expansion Salt Marsh PlantingMake a direct impact on the restoration of Robinson Preserve! Join us for a salt marsh volunteer planting day at the Robinson Expansion. Salt marshes are essential for healthy fisheries, coastlines, and communities. This important coastal habitat provides food, refuge, and nursery for fish, shrimp, crabs, birds.  Salt marshes protect shorelines from erosion while filtering runoff and improving water quality. Be prepared to get wet and muddy at these workdays, which may require wading through waist-deep water to reach interior islands. Closed-toe shoes that strap or tie tightly to your feet are recommended as well as sun protection (long sleeve shirt and pants, hat, sunscreen). Don't forget to bring your water bottle and a snack! Program is suitable for volunteers 16 and older. All necessary tools for harvesting and planting will be provided. Each workday will be limited to 10 participants to facilitate physical distancing. Face coverings are required when distancing is not possible. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/robinson-expansion-salt-marsh-planting-volunteer-days-registration-141294350205. For more information please contact michelle.leahy@mymanatee.org. Robinson Preserve North Entrance – Valentine House

Multiple Days, Apr 19th, 21st, 23rd, and 24thExplorers' Academy ONLINE LEARNING: MangrovesJoin our education staff on social media to learn about one of Florida's most important coastal trees - mangroves!  A new video will be released on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday on the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department's Facebook and YouTube pages to celebrate the dedication of Robinson Preserve's old-growth mangrove forest by the Old-Growth Forest Network. Program suitable for all ages. No reservations required. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org. Online – Facebook and YouTube

ONGOING/AS NEEDED: RIP SQUAD VOLUNTEER WORKDAY - Join this group that works directly with County natural areas land managers on various wildlife habitat improvement projects. Email announcements are sent out a few days in advance of each event that detail the purpose, goals, and meeting information for each upcoming event. Program suitable for volunteers age 16 and older. To receive email announcements about the RIP squad volunteer events, please email  Erin.Struzzieri@mymanatee.org Location and time TBA - chosen based on need.

Kayaking with Manatee County

Participation Requirements for Manatee County Kayaks

In order to utilize one of Manatee County’s sit on top kayaks for a volunteer, Kayaking for Beginners, Kayaking for First Timers, or Beginner Level Kayak Trip, or to participate in any paddling program, participants:

  • Must be 16 years of age or older
  • Must not exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit for the vessel
  • Must have the ability to follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently while in the kayak
  • Must have the ability to respond to instructions and/or call out in the event of an emergency
  • Must have the ability to wear a properly fitted personal flotation device
  • Must have the ability to enter and exit the kayak independently or with the assistance of a companion
  • Must be able to move the kayak through the water independently in a stable manner and return it to the launching area
  • Must have the ability to breathe independently
  • Must have the ability to tolerate 60-80 degree Fahrenheit water and bright sunlight for 2 hours
  • Must have the ability to remain seated, maneuver, and balance independently while on the water

In order to utilize one of Manatee County’s sit on top kayaks for a summer camp program, participants:

  • Must be 9 years of age or older (note: age limit is lower as this program is specifically designed as a direct instructional for this age group; guide to paddler ratio is much lower)
  • Must not exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit for the vessel
  • Must have the ability to follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently while in the kayak
  • Must have the ability to respond to instructions and/or call out in the event of an emergency
  • Must have the ability to wear a properly fitted personal flotation device
  • Must have the ability to enter and exit the kayak independently or with the assistance of a companion
  • Must have the ability to breathe independently
  • Must be able to move the kayak through the water independently in a stable manner and return it to the launching area
  • Must have the ability to tolerate 60-80 degree Fahrenheit water and bright sunlight for 2 hours
  • Must have the ability to remain seated, maneuver, and balance independently while on the water

In the event of capsize for any program, one:

  • Must have the ability to get out from under the watercraft independently
  • Must have the ability to right oneself and remain face up in the water with the aid of a personal flotation device