Education Programs

  • Melissa Nell
Image Education Programs

Since February 2006, the Parks and Natural Resources Department staff has worked to create a diverse offering of programs intended to help the public learn more about Florida's plants, animals, and habitats while enjoying Manatee County's beautiful conservation properties. Each month, a wide variety of public events are held for all ages in the preserves. Private programs, including field trips and group trips, can also be arranged. Please see the content below for a comprehensive listing of current educational offerings.

View our Events Calendar to see upcoming programs and events.

Tall Tails Tribe

"Beautiful Butterflies" Tall Tails Tribe at Emerson Point Preserve
Explore nature with your little ones. Tall Tails Tribes are geared towards preschool-aged learners. These short classes offer families a great way to explore nature together. Each hour-long program includes games, stories, crafts, and activities designed to highlight a natural theme. Themes change monthly and may include anything from butterflies or brittle stars to dinosaurs or ducks. Program is suitable for children age five and under.


Wild Kids' Weekends

"Nocturnal Nights" Wild Kids' Weekends at Rye Preserve
Take a fun family-oriented adventure in Manatee County's preserves. Each month, staff present exciting environmental education classes featuring Florida's fabulous plants and animals. Participants can go on a bug safari, dip net in the Manatee River, touch a snake, or hunt for fossils. Topics change monthly - there's always something new to do! Wild Kids' Weekends Programs last for two hours and are held on weekends and in early evenings. Suitable for children age six and older.

Homeschool Programs

"Life in the Salt Marsh" Homeschool Program at Robinson Preserve
These special programs are similar to the Wild Kids’ Weekends, except that they are geared toward home school students. Each program includes a volunteer component so that program participants can earn service hours while they learn. Programs run between two and three hours and are suitable for a variety of ages. All participants receive take-home handouts to further learning outside of the program. Programs are held on a quarterly basis.

Sneak Peek Tours

Sneak Peek Tour at Robinson Preserve
Sneak Peek Tour at Robinson Preserve

What goes on behind the scenes during a restoration project? Join our Rangers to find out! These tours offer the public a glimpse into an ongoing restoration project. Currently held at Neal Preserve, these tours occur at any preserve that is closed to the public due to restoration. Tours last roughly two hours and a variety of handouts, brochures, and maps are provided. Program is suitable for all ages.

Wildlife Watchers

Bird Tour at Emerson Point Preserve
Bird Tour at Emerson Point Preserve

Want to learn more about Florida’s critters? Participate in a Wildlife Watchers program and join our special guest experts as they track our resident creatures. Volunteer-led nature hikes that focus on specific wildlife such as birds, butterflies, insects, etc. The volunteers that lead these walks are masters in their field with countless years of experience identifying and/or working with their focus animals. Program times vary and courses are suitable for all ages. 

Art Classes/Shutter Strolls

"Macro Basics" Shutter Stroll at Emerson Point Preserve

This program offers the chance to get creative in the preserves. From photography to painting, this diverse series of classes are designed for novice and pro alike. Classes are led by experts in their field. Regular monthly offerings include photography courses (Shutter Strolls) and additional classes in special topics such as natural fibers, origami, drawing, collage, painting, and nature journaling are frequently offered. Class time varies according to topic and programs are suitable for participants ages 13 and older.

Master Gardener Nature Walks

Image Master Gardener Nature Walks

Exciting nature walks that cover a broad base of topics including butterflies and their host plants, seasonal native plants, estuarine ecosystems, and more! Led by friendly and knowledgeable Master Gardeners, these programs occur at Robinson, Emerson Point, and Riverview Pointe Preserve. Tours last approximately two hours and run on Saturdays or Sundays, varying according to location. Programs are suitable for all ages.

Wild Florida 101

"Reef Madness" Wild FL 101 at Emerson Point Preserve

Whether it’s Florida’s pioneer history or the ancient cultures of the local Native Americans, these guided tours give visitors a new view of the preserves. Not just nature – participants will come away with a better understanding of the area’s rich cultural history, too. These tours serve as an introduction to Manatee County’s natural resources and are perfect for area visitors and new residents. Programs run approximately two hours and a different preserve is highlighted each trip. Program suitable for participants age 16 and older.