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Conservation on tap at Brooker Creek
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TARPON SPRINGS - Brooker Creek Preserve is lots of fun, but there are also great educational opportunities available. Most events are free, unless noted otherwise and registration is required.

Event registration and more information is available at www.b­rooke­rcree­kpres­erve.­org

Participants will learn how to save rainwater in a recycled plastic drum for use in landscaping in this class on May 17, from 10 a.m. to noon. The collected water may be used for plant beds, potted plants, and special plant collections. Each attendee will receive instructions on how to build and install a rain barrel. Participants also have the option of purchasing a completed rain barrel in advance of the workshop.

A Brooker Creek naturalist will lead the way on Friday, May 9, to explore the fascinating plants found on the preserve and identify wildflowers, ferns, epiphytes, trees and more. The ecology of various plant communities will also be examined during a 90-minute hike beginning at 10 a.m. Cameras and questions welcome.

On Saturday, May 10, a bird hike for beginners will show participants how to identify the county’s common birds while walking along a one-mile trail. Water and binoculars are recommended for participants. The hike is from 8 to 10:30 a.m.

What is that bug? Insects are all around; some beautiful, some annoying and some downright dangerous. Participants can learn about this fascinating and diverse group of organisms. Basic identification and ecology will be explored in this introduction to the study of insects on May 10, 10:30 a.m. to noon.

On Friday, May 16, from 9 to 11 a.m., a local natural resources agent will lead a hike along two miles of boardwalks and natural trails at Brooker Creek Preserve. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, cameras and questions. Inquiries can also be researched in the resource room upon return to the education center.

On Saturday, May 17, participants can learn first-hand the many “footprints” that have been left through the years that affect the preserve today. The 0.75-mile guided walk will be offered 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must; water and hat recommended. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult; those younger than 6 may find the hike challenging.

Local dragonfly expert Paul Trunk will lead an exploration of the habitats at Brooker Creek looking for dragonflies on Saturday May 17, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Brooker Creek Preserve is an excellent area that is home to more than 20 species of odonates. Participants will learn about the natural history of dragonflies and their importance to a healthy ecosystem. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars and a camera.

Photographers can learn how to find that perfect photo in a 90-minute presentation/hike on Saturday, May 31, at 8:30 a.m. A hike along the boardwalk and trails will follow a brief classroom session with local photographers and master naturalists Karl and Kathleen Nichter. The Nichters will highlight seasonal features that help participants capture the natural beauty of the preserve.

Participants can take a walk on the wild side on Saturday, May 24, and learn why the preserve has been called “Our Wildest Place” during this 0.75-mile guided hike from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must, and water and a hat are recommended for participants. All ages are welcome although children younger than 6 may find the hike challenging. Children younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

On Saturday, May 31, from 9 to 11 a.m., the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve will be in the preserve’s wildflower garden for demonstrations. Participants should bring garden gloves and a hat. Morning snacks are usually provided.

An Extension Specialist will be going over the best ways attract birds and keep homes for them in backyards on Saturday, May 24 10:30 a.m. to noon. The program is best suited for adults.

Windows to our Wildest Place is a collection of permanent, hands-on educational exhibits that help visitors understand how natural Florida has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes. The exhibit is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Brooker Creek Preserve protects more than 8,700 acres of natural ecosystems and is located at 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. The preserve, the horse trails and the Friends Trail are open daily except Christmas Day and the day after Thanksgiving.

Pinellas County Extension offers classes, programs and activities at the Environmental Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. The center features interactive exhibits and 22 discovery-oriented experiences that are fun for the entire family.

The center is operated by the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Department and is open Thursday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed all Pinellas County holidays.

To learn more about Brooker Creek Preserve and its upcoming programs and events, call 727-453-6800.

To register for programs and events visit www.b­rooke­rcree­kpres­erve.­org. Videos featuring Brooker Creek Preserve can be viewed at www.y­outub­­/pcct­v1.
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