Providing Environmental Education to Collier Sudents and Beyond

Rookery BayCollier County boasts one of the richest coastal environments in the country. From salt marsh to sea grass, the habitat here is teeming with wildlife and is a crucial economic driver of the county’s tourism industry. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters between East Naples and the Gulf of Mexico, and works to educate residents and visitors from “Pre-K to Gray” about the value of this special place in a variety of ways.

More than 500 local high school students participate in field trips that provide up-close and personal inspection of marine life in the estuarine environment. Students learn about the plants and animals that thrive in the bay, including sea hares, urchins, pipefish, and some unusual species such as the polka dot batfish, which is a regular find in the net. These classes, which cover topics such as marine biology, environmental science, oceanography, general biology, chemistry, and more are also available for
university and continuing education students and often include a visit to Keewaydin Island.

Rookery Bay Stone CrabsOver the past two years the Reserve has partnered with Lely High School and Discovery Education – the education arm of Discovery Channel – to engage students in science through video. Roughly 120 students teamed up to conduct research and produce short videos about environmental issues facing their community. Through this project the students enriched their understanding of this protected area using Rookery Bay Reserve as the backdrop and a primary source of information. The Reserve hosted a film premiere and awards ceremony for the students, their families, faculty and the public. The Reserve’s citizen support organization, the Friends of Rookery Bay, helped supply camera equipment and provided a cash scholarship to the students who produced the best video.

Like a tide of awareness about the state of our estuaries, National Estuaries Day rolls in on the last Saturday of September. This year, National Estuaries Day will be celebrated on September 27. The event was established in 1988 as part of Coastweeks and is recognized at all 28 of NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserves in effort to promote the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them. Rookery Bay Reserve’s free event invites residents and visitors to get out and explore this amazing
estuary through boat tours, kayak tours, lab tours, educational programs and much more.

Upcoming Events

Registration required at or call 239.530.5940

June through September 12

Watercolor Exhibit by Linda Soderquist
A colorful exhibit of island themed watercolors by artist Linda
Soderquist is on display in the gallery at the Rookery Bay Environmental
Learning Center. Soderquist’s “Wonders of the Beach and Bay” exhibit
features tropical watercolor paintings of landscapes, seascapes,
wildlife portraits, coral reef scenes and mangrove habitats.

August 8

Smokey Bear’s Birthday
Smokey Bear reminds us of the danger of forest fires and how we
can do our part to prevent them. Take today to learn about Rookery
Bay’s prescribed fire program and how this program helps prevent
wild forest fires! In celebration of Smokey Bear’s birthday, the Rookery
Bay Environmental Learning Center offers “buy one, get one free
admission.” Cannot be combined with other offers. Must pay at door,
no registration necessary.

September 4

National Wildlife Day with Linda Soderquist
National Wildlife Day is celebrated each year to bring awareness to
the number of endangered animals around the world and to commend
those who are educating the public about conservation strategies to
protect the world we live in. Enjoy wildlife artwork in the gallery and
meet local artist Linda Soderquist, who will be on site to educate
and entertain kids and adults with respect to drawing, painting, and
talking turtles. In celebration of National Wildlife Day, the Rookery
Bay Environmental Learning Center offers “buy one, get one free
admission.” Cannot be combined with other offers. Must pay at door,
no registration necessary.

Sept 15 – 26

Environmental Learning Center CLOSED for cleaning and maintenance
September 27 (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
National Estuaries Day
The National Estuaries Day event at Rookery Bay National Estuarine
Research Reserve will include staff narrated boat tours (bus
transportation provided to the boat), kayak trips, marine critter
touch tank, live animal presentations, kids games and crafts, behindthe-
scenes tours of the science labs, films, food and more. Enjoy the
amazing artwork of Guy Harvey in the gallery. FREE admission.

October 6

World Habitat Day
World Habitat Day reminds us of the basic need for adequate shelter.
In order to build an adequate shelter, we must nurture a healthy
ecosystem. Come in today and learn how Rookery Bay helps keep our
ecosystem thriving and enjoy “buy one, get one free admission” to the
Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Cannot be combined with
other offers. Must pay at door, no registration necessary.

November 7-8

Guardian Anglers Fishing Challenge
Friends of Rookery Bay and Coastal Conservation Association, Florida
are teaming up to host this all-release fishing challenge and fundraising
event. Your support helps fisheries research and resource protection
efforts underway by both organizations.

Details available at

Rookery Bay Reserve Environmental Learning Center is located at 300
Tower Road in Naples. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
encompasses 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters between Naples and
Everglades National Park. It is managed by the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office in cooperation with NOAA.
For more information or to register for these courses, visit
or call 239.530.5977.

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