Nature’s Guardians Classes

Every lesson is organized into these components:

Discover – Learning portion of lesson – depending on the venue we will either use flip charts or power point presentations to enhance the learning experience.

Explore – Hands on activities.

Analyze – What did we learn?

Act – What can you do to make a difference?

Barn Owls

At the end of the workshop you should know:

  • When and where barn owls nest.
  • The importance of the barn owl population as it relates to rodents.
  • How barn owls breed.
  • How barn owls benefit from barn owl boxes.
  • How you can help barn owls in the Tampa Bay area.

Each participant will receive a special coloring page and information about the barn owl as well as information on how you can participant in a special Barn Owl project. During the program we will assemble a Barn Owl box.

Owls

Beginning Birding

At the end of the workshop you should know:

  • What the Florida State Bird is
  • Why birders use binoculars, zoom lenses and scopes
  • How to identify ten common local birds
  • The basic components of a Birding Field Guide and why they are important
  • What the Florida Scrub Jay is and why it’s important
  • What E-bird is all about
  • How to keep a checklist using Tampa Audubon’s Checklist and how to submit lists to FWC’s Birders Program.
  • What a Eastern Screech Owl is and why you want them in your yard

Field opportunity – We will look around the yard (immediate outdoors of event) for birds and identify each of them

Each participant will receive a Checklist of Florida’s Birds to use for your next birding trip.

 

Florida Bald Eagles

At the end of the workshop you should know:

  • Where and when eagles nest
  • Eagles are migratory and where they go when they leave Florida
  • How eagles construct and maintain their nest
  • What the first 12 weeks of life of a bald eagle is like
  • Environmental factors that affect eagles and all birds of prey
  • The basic history of the bald eagle
  • How to become an official eagle watcher

Each participant will receive a basic eagle fact sheet, A word search puzzle, dot-to-dot activity page, and a coloring page.

Owls

There is Wildlife Among Us: Exploring Neighborhood Wildlife

At the end of the workshop you should know:

  • Animals that may be found in your yard; bats, fox, deer, raccoon, coyote, tortoise, squirrels, skunks, bear, otter, panther, bobcat to name a few!
  • The basic reasons why wildlife is attracted to houses and properties
  • How to minimize contact with wildlife
  • Common diseases found in our local wildlife
  • What happens when a trapper is called
  • What to do if you find injured or sick wildlife

Each participant will receive several pamphlets by the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Caracara

Falcons – Meet Puck the Crested Caracara

At the end of the workshop you should know:

  • Northern Crested Caracaras are birds of prey in the family Falconidae
  • Where these birds are traditionally found and how they ended up in Florida.
  • What a glacial relict is and why the caracara is considered one
  • Why the caracara’s behavior of preferring walking over flying is quite strange in relation to other falcons.
  • What their natural habitat is and how development is encroaching on their natural space.

Each participant will have the opportunity to meet Puck the Crested Caracara in person and have their picture taken with her.

Things that Slither
Lizards, Snakes and Skinks

At the end of the workshop you should know:

  • The difference between Lizards and Skinks
  • A Florida Anole (Lizard) from a Cuban Anole
  • The difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes
  • How to identify the four venomous snakes found in Central Florida
  • How to identify a variety of non-venomous snakes
  • What you should do if you get bitten by a snake
  • 2 non-native species of snakes found in Florida and understand why they are a problem
  • The most common skinks found in Hillsborough County
  • The difference between an Iguana and a Tegu Lizard and discuss how they are invading Florida and why that’s a problem.

Go on a nature walk to identify different habitats used by different lizards, snakes and skinks.

Each participant will receive a brochure on Venomous Snakes and will make a snake craft.

Owls

 Baby Owl Shower

Come and join us in celebration of all the baby owls we rescue.  This is

a time for you to collect supplies and bring them along.

There will be:

  • A station to see Eastern Screech Owls – Even though the owls that you see will be small they are adult owls that were injured and brought into rehabilitation. Their injury prevented them from being released back into the wild.  They are here to represent all of the owls that come into captivity that cannot live out normal lives, breeding and flying free. – Photo Op!
  • A station to dissect owl pellets – Learn what owls eat by the pellets they cast.
  • A program so that you can develop an understanding of their important role in maintaining a natural environment.
  • Mask making station – Make a variety of owl masks to take home with you.
  • Coloring Pages – Through coloring pages you will learn the different types of owls frequently found in central Florida.
Caracara

Wildlife Corridors

At the end of the workshop you should know:

  • That although Florida appears to be flat just a few inches in elevation changes the habitat.
  • Florida has a variety of habitats including Dry Uplands such as sandhill and scrub, seasonally moist lands such as flatwoods and seasonal or diurnal ponds, wetlands such as bayheads, seepage slopes and bottomland hardwood forests to our ever popular water bodies, our lakes, rivers, creeks and springs.
  • The variety of habitats our animals need
  • What wildlife corridors are
  • What a Caracara is and why they are found in the middle of the state.
  • Who the Florida Wildlife Corridor expedition team is an what their mission is.

Water, Water Everywhere  – The Florida Aquifer

At the end of the workshop you should know:

  • The importance of the Florida aquifer.
  • More about waterways in the area.
  • How water pertains to preservation of wildlife.
  • That there are a variety of different landforms on Earth’s surface such as coastlines, dunes, rivers, deltas, and lakes and relate these landforms as they apply to Florida.
  • What a natural community is and why they are important.

Living with Alligators

At the end of the workshop you should know:

  • The difference between the American Alligator and the American Crocodile
  • What food, they eat and what habitat both the alligator and the crocodile
  • Why a hand-fed alligator becomes a nuisance and the penalties associated with them.

Each participant will receive a Coloring Page, An alligator paper craft you can do at home a maze to help Ollie find his way home, a Word Search and a pamphlet from FWC “How to Live with Alligators.”

Caracara

 

  Additional Programs we offer:

Florida Ecosystems and Their Wildlife

At the end of the workshop the participant will:

  • Know what an ecosystem is.
  • Have a basic understanding why animals exist within specific ecosystems.
  • Learn how fire helps to maintain healthy ecosystems.
  • Know the importance of keeping the environment clean through the story of Tilly the Gopher Tortoise.
  • Learn how animals and birds use communication to warn others and to protect themselves.
  • Be introduced to a variety of Florida animals.
  • Understand what exotic plants and animals are.
  • Learn two exotic animals that have become naturalized in Florida.
  • Identify your favorite animal and develop a plan how you can help that species.

Each participant receives a soft-back cover version of Tilly’s Adventure and coloring pages.

          

Butterflies and Bees

At the end of the workshop the participant will:

  • Know what metamorphosis is and how it occurs with butterflies.
  • Develop a basic understanding of the importance of host plants in butterfly reproduction.
  • Learn the importance of bees in pollinating our food supply.
  • See honeycombs and learn about bee’s life cycle.
  • Be introduced to the common butterflies found in Hillsborough County.
  • Learn what they eat and how nectar plants are important.
  • Go on a short walk outside to find butterflies.
  • Learn what our state butterfly and wildflower are.
  • Be introduced to how to plant a butterfly garden.

Each participant receives the pamphlet Florida Wildflowers & Butterflies and a bee bookmark and will make their choice of a butterfly or wildflower fan.

 Frogs and Turtles

 

At the end of the workshop the participant will know:

  • Five common frogs found in Florida by sight and sound.
  • The difference between a Slider and a Snapping Turtle.
  • How turtles and tortoises are different.
  • Why frogs are an indicator of the environment.
  • The importance of clean fresh water in lakes, rivers and streams.

Each participant will make a frog puppet

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Caracara
Owls

Birds of Prey

At the end of the program the participant will know:

  • What a raptor is
  • The common raptors found in Florida
  • How raptors hunt and feed
  • Where they live
  • Basic information about migratory raptors
  • Basic understanding from nest to fledge

Each participant will receive a raptor information sheet that contains a drawing of the bird and a short description.

Florida’s Treasure Box – Our Marine Wildlife

The major emphasis of this program is on manatee, dolphin and sea turtles that are found in Florida Waters.

At the end of this workshop the participant will know:

  • The Western Indian manatees, the bottle nose dolphins and our 5 Florida sea turtles habitat
  • Where they can be found locally
  • What they eat
  • How big they get
  • Their overall basic life cycle
  • Learn how they keep track of the approximately 200 manatee that visit Tampa Bay each year
  • The five types of sea turtles that inhabit Florida’s waters
  • One strategy to help conserve each of the three species
  • Be exposed to other wildlife that lives in Florida’s waters. Each participant will receive a treasure box coloring book, and a manatee fan.

Gopher Tortoises and Their Burrows

By using a FWC workbook participants will learn:

  • The history of the gopher tortoise
  • Where they live
  • Why they are a Keystone Species
  • Who else uses the tortoises burrow
  • Basic anatomy & what they eat
  • Nesting and baby tortoises basics

Each participant will receive their own gopher tortoise workbook.

Batty about Bats

At the end of this workshop the participant will know:

  • What a bat is
  • How bats are classified
  • The importance of bats in our world
  • Where in the world bats are found
  • What kind of bats drink blood
  • How bats are different from birds
  • Why they hang upside down
  • What bats eat
  • Basic cycle of a bats life
  • What echolocation is and how bats use it
  • Why they live in caves and dark places
  • If they hibernate
  • What is threatening them today

Each participant will make a bat pin or magnet. There will be coloring pages and bat stories!

Caracara

Creating your own Wildlife Protection Plan

At the end of this workshop each participant will know:

  • About various organizations that are working hard to protect wildlife
  • What the Florida Wildlife Corridor is and why it is important
  • The basic role that Audubon, Nature Conservancy, Florida Native Plant Society, Florida Wildlife Federation and other organizations like these, play in protecting wildlife
  • The basic role that the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the United State Fish and Wildlife Service play in protecting wildlife
  • The importance of clean water for everyone

Bonus

After completing any five of our programs you are eligibility to participate in this very interactive workshop where you will create your own project on what you can do to protect or support organizations for Wildlife in Florida.

Your child will receive one on one support and coaching on their wildlife protection plan one time a week for three months following this workshop.

About Your Facilitator

Nancy Murrah spent many years as the Director of Learning for the one of the largest insurance companies in America.  Today she dedicates her life to rehabilitating wildlife, especially birds of prey. Always while exploring, learning and growing others knowledge of wildlife she teaches the importance of conserving wild lands and clean water for animals and people alike.  She is currently a Federally and State Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator and the President of The Raptor Center of Tampa Bay where, in addition to many duties, she designs and delivers Nature Programs.

A native of Tampa Florida she has spent the great majority of her life outside learning about nature.  She is a local writer of children’s stories, facilitator, photographer and illustrator.  Nancy has written stories for both education and entertainment.  Her stories include Tilly the Gopher Tortoise, The Eagles’ Forest, Paige Eagle Ambassador and Ollie the Alligator. Most of the illustrations in the programs were also drawn by Nancy.

She serves as a citizen scientist for EagleWatch, an Audubon Florida program, she is on the board of directors for Tampa Audubon, Volunteers for both JayWatch and ColonyWatch projects, as well as participating in the Christmas Bird Count, Migratory Bird Count, Hawk Watch in the keys when she can and The Great Backyard Bird Count.  She is a facilitator for FWC’s Project Wild, Flying Wild and their related programs. Nancy spends the fast majority of her time rescuing and rehabilitating raptors and is building a Bird of Prey Rehabilitation Facility in the Tampa Bay Area.

 

 

 

 

Nancy Murrah ~ Raptor Center of Tampa Bay

 11018 Scott Loop ~Riverview, FL 33569  Facilitator 813-205-1851