Florida Birding and Nature Festival
It’s this weekend (October 13-17, 2017) and attracts birding and nature lovers from across the country and beyond. While the festival’s events happen all over the Tampa Bay area, from Sarasota County to Pasco and beyond, the main events and several field events are happening at the Hillsborough Community College SouthShore campus and around the SouthShore area. Go SouthShore!
A Revived Festival
I had the opportunity to sit down with Mary Keith, President of the Tampa Audubon Society and the festival’s Coordinating Chair, to get all the details of this amazing event.
While this is the 2nd annual festival (at the HCC SouthShore location) the Florida Birding and Nature Festival dates back about 25 years. The first festivals were held in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, but the festival was eventually put on hold, about 10 years ago, when there weren’t enough people to organize it.
That changed two years ago with the Hillsborough County Office of Economic Development approached Mary Keith and others from the area’s Audubon organizations to bring the festival back to life.
And, they did.
Hillsborough Community College SouthShore – A Perfect Venue
“We wanted an environmentally friendly location and, of course, we wanted to tie the festival to education,” Mary says.
Hillsborough Community College SouthShore was a natural choice for the venue.
In addition to offering natural science courses on this campus, the campus itself is an environmentally friendly place. HCC SouthShore is the first Florida community college campus to earn the LEED Gold certificate, meaning it’s a sustainable campus with rain-water collection features, raised HVAC systems, native landscaping (requiring minimal to no water).
“HCC SouthShore has been so great to work with,” Mary explains. “They’ve opened the campus to us and several faculty members and students are helping with the festival. HCC SouthShore is also easy to get to, without having to navigate the tangle of downtown Tampa traffic.”
The 3-Day Event
You’ll find the full line-up (dozens!) of seminars, keynotes, programs and field trips (including some fun family-friendly ones) on the Florida Birding and Nature Festival Website (ACTIVITIES tab). Please check the website for registration prices and details.
All seminars and the vendor EXPO take place at HCC SouthShore. Seminars include topics such as birding, photography, gardening to attract birds, research, insects, aquatic restoration, reptiles and more.
The 3 keynote events, $25 registration, include a meal and will take place at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin.
There are field trips to many area locations including the following SouthShore locations: Alafia Bank Sanctuary, Cockroach Bay (Ruskin), and Triple Creek Preserve (Riverview). Additionally there will special children’s sessions at Camp Bayou on Saturday.
This is the 2nd annual Florida Birding and Nature Festival in SouthShore and Mary Keith expects the festival to continue here for years to come.
All festival details, including seminar, EXPO and field trip schedules, can be found and downloaded on the Florida Birding and Nature Festival Website.
Hope to see you all at this amazing festival.