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Weedon Island takes on baby animals
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ST. PETERSBURG - Baby animals are cute, but when they’re away from their mothers, they need extra help to grow up strong. Visitors to Weedon Island Preserve can learn what it takes to raise rescued animals among other fun and informational classes this month at Weedon Island Preserve.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) staff will teach participants about younger rescued animals and the extra special care needed for these animal babies on Saturday, May 24, from 10 a.m. to noon. Participants will learn how scientists work together to create solutions to complex problems. Students will apply what they have learned by examining a whale’s baby bottle and learning how to make dolphin formula, and will view footage of our otter pups first learning to swim.

The Weedon Island Cultural and Natural History Center, 1800 Weedon Drive NE in St. Petersburg has a plethora of events to learn about nature and history throughout April. Most programs are free, however registration is required. Visit www.w­eedon­islan­dpres­erve.­org to register and for information.

Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., visitors can learn about the ecosystems and the early residents of Weedon Island Preserve while hiking the coastal uplands and the boardwalks through mangrove forests. Best for ages 6 and older.

On Friday, May 9, enthusiasts can assist in an annual checklist of Weedon Island’s bird population and learn the identifying marks and behaviors of the year-round feathered residents and seasonal visitors while enjoying a hike at Weedon Island from 8 to 10 a.m.

Participants can learn about the Summer Ranger Naturalist Program at Weedon Island Preserve on May 10 from 10 to 11 a.m. The mission of the program is to provide a learning service opportunity fulfilling the Bright Futures requirements for youth ages 15 to 18 to build leadership skills and provide environmental awareness.

Florida has great fishing for the whole family to enjoy the outdoors all year round. This program is designed to get the youngest members, ages 7 to 12, and their parents excited about fishing by teaching them some of the basics about fish, their habitats and ethical fishing practices on May 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. Fishing poles, tackle, and bait will be provided during the program, but participants are welcome to bring their own fishing poles. 

On Saturday, May 17, from 8 to 10 a.m., participants can grab a camera and hike the preserve in search of that perfect photo. After a brief classroom session, preserve volunteers highlight seasonal features of the preserve, as well as specific wildlife behaviors that help participants capture the natural beauty of Weedon Island Preserve.

On Thursday, May 22, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, the Suncoast Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area is hosting two professionals to discuss aquatic invaders. Dr. Jeffrey E. Hill, associate professor of Fisheries Aquatic Sciences at the University of Florida will present on Florida's invasive fish. Following his presentation, Dr. Jenn Bernatis, Biological Scientist II with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will talk specifically about the invasive applesnails of Florida. 

How did early Floridians put dinner on the table living in prehistoric Florida? Archaeologists look at how artifacts like stone tools change through time to learn about advances in ancient hunting technology. Participants will learn about these changes as well as the atlatl, a prehistoric hunting tool used in Florida and participants will learn how to make one on Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Connecting People and Place is an art-inspired, permanent hands-on educational exhibit of the area’s history, ecology and people at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center. The center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. It is closed all Pinellas County holidays.

To learn more about Weedon Island Preserve and its upcoming programs and events, call 727-453-6500. To register for programs and events visit www.w­eedon­islan­dpres­erve.­org. Videos featuring Weedon Island Preserve can be viewed at www.y­outub­­/pcct­v1.
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