Iconic Gifts at Palmetto Patch

palmetto patch1by Rita Bleasdale

Just in time to beat the holiday crowds, the Palmetto Patch Nature Store at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center launches its annual preholiday sale on an iconic collection of gifts. The sale, with across-the board 10 percent discounts, runs through December 15.

Palmetto Patch stocks a delightful array of items made, grown and created locally, that reflect the Rookery Bay character. Many products are aquatic and garden-themed. A popular item is honey made at five hive sites within Rookery Bay Reserve by a third generation beekeeper.

Shoppers will find hand-painted satchels, totes and purses featuring local fauna, decorated by award winning Naples artist Muffy Clark Gill ($60 and under). Another local talent, Marjorie Pesek, offers layered imagery artwork kits, suitable for children ages five and older, depicting local critters ($30 and under). Tatine Candles are some of the finest, all plant luxury gifts, very difficult to find; as they are each made to order.

palmetto patch2A range of puppets, made in America, also represent Rookery Bay’s creatures – river otters, alligators and sea turtles. Perfect as stocking stuffers, the finger puppets ($10 and under) and hand puppets ($25 and under) will add a whimsical touch to any holiday occasion. An unusual find at Palmetto Patch is a selection of walking sticks, hand-carved in Texas, made from a variety of woods including sassafras, oak, hickory and cedar ($34 down to $17).

Michael LaRochelle, store buyer, merchandiser and manager, markets gifts at highly competitive prices. The store’s rare and one of a kind items sell at prices below those quoted on Amazon, whenever possible. His favorite item at the moment? Colorfully-lit jellyfish lamps, best-sellers since they arrived at Palmetto Patch several months ago ($25-$65). “They are this generation’s take on the 1970s lava lamps,” he explained.

As shoppers should expect from a store located in a Learning Center, there are a multitude of gifts, especially for children, with scientific and educational themes. Most popular is a series of sticker activity books, eco-pens, and sea turtle necklaces all under $5. As well, sustainably sourced/organic chocolate bars, exotic natural teas from Tea Forte, and unsurpassed Pre De Provence French exquisite soaps are all on sale for a limited time.

Proceeds benefit The Friends of Rookery Bay who support the Reserve’s mission managing the Bay’s coastal lands and waters. Members of the Friends receive a 10 percent discount plus an additional five percent towards the Pre-Holiday sale. Hurry in, sale ends December 15.

Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center is located at 300 Tower Road, just south of US 41 on the way to Marco Island. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Shoppers may browse for free, or pay $5 admission to explore the two-story exhibit hall and grounds. www.rookerybay.org.

Programs, Tours and Events at Rookery Bay Reserve

Pre-register for the following programs at www.rookerybay.org/calendar or call
239-530-5972. Registration fees include admission to Rookery Bay Environmental
Learning Center on the day of event.

Tuesdays – Fridays, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Guided Kayak Tours
Join a Rookery Bay naturalist to enjoy a two-hour guided tour which
explores the mangrove bays, creeks and rookeries that make this
Reserve a valuable treasure. This is a beginner’s trip and includes brief
paddling instruction and all gear. Cost is $59, $49 for members.

Tuesdays – Fridays, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Guided Boat Tours
Explore the unique ecosystem of Rookery Bay through an intimate
boat-based tour. With a maximum of six passengers, these intimate
on-the-water adventures offer a relaxed pace and emphasis on learning
designed to help visitors develop a true sense of place and a deeper
connection to this unique coastal wilderness. Several different trips are
available, each with a different theme. Cost is $89, $79 for members.
Proceeds support the non-profit Friends of Rookery Bay, Inc.
High Points: learn about the geology and wildlife of an ancient dune
ecosystem (Dec. 1, 11, 16, 29)
Treasure Island: this ecological treasure is a rare tropical hardwood
hammock (Dec. 2, 10, 15, 30)
Essence of an Estuary: learn how human history and natural history
intersect (Dec. 3, 9, 17, 22, 31)
Life’s a Beach: explore Keewaydin Island, home to some of the best
shelling in Florida (Dec. 4, 8, 18)
Sunset to Starlight: Enjoy sunset on the beach and moonrise over the
mangroves (Dec. 23, 24, 25)
Dec. 1, 12 – 1 p.m.
Lunch & Learn: The Little Marco Settlement
Join Steve Bertone, long-time Rookery Bay Reserve Cultural Resource
Monitor, on a virtual walk through prehistoric and historic settlement
areas in the Reserve. The presentation will address how pioneers made
a living on this harsh landscape, and what life was like here before air
conditioning and running water. Cost is $15, and $10 for Friends of
Rookery Bay members, and includes a hot lunch from Carrabba’s.

Dec. 19, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Collage on Canvas Workshop: Pelican
Marjorie Pesek’s monthly art classes incorporate her unique technique
of layered imagery using local wildlife as the subject. Participants will
be supplied a sketch on a 9” x 12” stretched canvas and all materials
to create a masterpiece suitable for framing. Cost is $55 per person.

Dec. 19 – 20, 7 p.m. – 8 a.m.
Sleepover at Rookery Bay
Discover the nocturnal side of nature while camping with our educators
inside the Environmental Learning Center! During this special program,
children ages 11 – 14 will learn how to tell HOO from HOO during an owl
encounter, investigate invasive species, and learn the latest in research
taking place in the Reserve. Event includes evening/morning snack,
games and activities, guest speakers, a commemorative Rookery Bay
water bottle, and more. Cost is $25, space is limited.

Dec. 21 – 24, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Holiday Crafts for Kids
Make wildlife crafts such as marine mammal puppets, fish prints and
cabbage palm reindeers. Activities are geared to children ages 6 to
12. Free with Environmental Learning Center admission. Registration
NOT required.

Dec. 21, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Winter Solstice
Enjoy buy one/get one FREE admission in honor of the first day of
winter. Registration NOT required.

Dec. 21, 1 – 2 p.m.
Art for Mom & Me
Local artist Marjorie Pesek will instruct children and adults at all levels
of creative talent in her unique art technique of Layered Imagery. Each
parent and child will team up to create a wildlife-themed masterpiece
using photos and magazine clippings. Cost is $25, includes adult and
child age 5+ and all supplies.

Dec. 28 – 31, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Movie Mania
Bring the entire family to enjoy family-friendly nature films in our
amphitheater-style auditorium. Free with Environmental Learning
Center admission. Registration NOT required.

Jan. 3, 2016, 12 – 1 p.m.
Lunch & Learn: Fire, It’s Good
The prescribed fire program at Rookery Bay Reserve is an important
tool for preserving native biodiversity. Join Greg Curry, resource
management specialist and “Burn Boss,” to learn about how fire is
used to protect wildlife and people. Cost is $15, and $10 for Friends of
Rookery Bay members, and includes a hot lunch from Carrabba’s.
Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center is located at 300 Tower
Road, off Collier Boulevard between Naples and Marco Island. Open
Mon – Sat., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. $5 adults, $3 kids 6 – 12, FREE for kids under
6 and Friends of Rookery Bay members.

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