Diverse Schedule of Speakers at Rookery Bay Nature Festival

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is hosting six lectures about local flora and fauna on Saturday, Jan. 17.

Below are detailed descriptions of each of the lectures.


Kristen Hines, 11 a.m. – noon

South Florida Birds and Gardens. Bird gardening in sub-tropical South Florida is critical given that the region supports nearly 300 bird species and has lost nearly 70 percent of its natural upland habitat to development. Learn how bird gardening is different in South Florida and how private landowners can help restore and maintain the region’s ecological functions through landscaping. Hines is a writer, photographer and environmental educator focused on nature, travel and conservation. With an M.S. in biology, her work is grounded in biological principles to lure readers and viewers into the lives of plants and animals. Kristen will sign books she has for sale after her presentation.

Eric Foht, Noon – 1 p.m.

Living Roofs, Flowers in the Sky. This presentation will change the way you look at a roof forever. Come learn how living roofs can help your home while protecting Southwest Florida’s Gulf, estuaries, and endangered plants. Foht is a Natural Areas Manager at Naples Botanical Garden. He grew up in Naples and enjoys spending his time with his family and friends, playing in the ocean and experimenting with fringe ideas of all sorts.

Jack Berninger,  1 – 2 p.m.

Bird Behavior. This presentation will cover many aspects of bird behavior, specifically adaptation through anthropomorphic actions and survival techniques. Jack is a retired biology teacher and naturalist who continues to educate through lectures and field trips in Ohio and Florida about anything from art to zoology.

Geoff Trager, 2 – 3 p.m.

Poachers in Paradise. This hands-on presentation will address poaching in Southwest Florida and provide demonstrations of energy-efficient gadgets highlighted in his new fiction book “Poachers in Paradise.” Geoff’s short talk will be followed by a book signing. Geoff Trager is a marine biologist, aquarist at Rookery Bay Reserve, naturalist and educational kayak tour guide, and environmental fiction writer.

Ted Below, 3 – 4 p.m.

Least Terns. Least Terns are the smallest terns in the Americas and found only in our area from late March through August during nesting season. Although in the past (40 to 50 years ago) they had large successful colonies of up to a thousand nests, now at best there are two to three hundred. Ted Below, a longtime volunteer at Rookery Bay Reserve, will discuss these birds, their nesting, and the issues they encounter while sharing the shore with humans.

The final lecture of the event on Saturday is the evening Keynote Presentation. Registration is required at www.rookerybay.org and admission is $15.

Pete Frezza, 5:30 – 7 p.m.

Roseate Spoonbills in the Everglades: A Look into the Past, Present and Future of the Flame Bird. Pete will discuss 75 years of monitoring roseate spoonbill populations in southern Florida. This will include a look into historical nesting patterns in Florida Bay and factors that have led to changes in their population over time along with results from long-term banding and satellite telemetry projects with these birds. He will also give a brief overview of Everglades restoration projects that are expected to improve conditions for these birds throughout the ecosystem. Peter Frezza is the research manager for the Everglades Region at Audubon Florida’s Everglades Science Center. The research is focused on Everglades restoration initiatives and how modifications to freshwater flow are effecting and impacting plant, fish and bird life in the downstream coastal mangrove zone and Florida Bay.

Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center

300 Tower Road

Naples, FL 34113

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