Imagine Our Florida, Inc. 

 

Is on a Mission to Educate and Empower the people of Florida

to become a voice for our wildlife, advocate for environmental stewardship,

and coexist within our unique ecosystems.

Our purpose is to bring people together in a shared vision to preserve and protect Florida’s wildlife, habitat, and ecosystems. We plan to accomplish this via science-based education and the development of appreciation and respect for the natural world and our place within it.

Using our custom designed lesson plans,  IOF volunteers encourage critical thinking through exploration and discovery.  We make it a fun, hands-on experience while showing people of all ages how to put away their phones and connect with Florida’s wildlife and wild spaces. When folks understand the sentient beings with whom we share our state, they learn to respect rather than fear them. They begin to realize the importance of the land and water we share. Therefore, IOF offers opportunities for beach cleanups and teaches the importance of recycling. For those who want to advocate on behalf of  Florida’s wildlife or natural resources, IOF is prepared to instruct folks of all ages on how to be most effective.  In addition, IOF will soon launch groundbreaking research which will provide a better understanding of human-caused stress in Florida Black Bears and will potentially lead to the proposal of more responsible wildlife management practices.  There are over 21 million Floridians and 113 million annual visitors, all of whom can become voices for our voiceless wildlife. When each of us does our part, no matter how big or small, we can all begin to Imagine Our Florida where we peacefully coexist with our native wild friends.
Connect. Respect. Coexist.

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    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.

    Our purpose is to bring people together in a shared vision to preserve and protect Florida's wildlife, habitat and ecosystem. We plan to accomplish this via science- based education and the development of appreciation and respect for the natural world and our place within it.
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    --- Saturday Saunter ---
    Wekiwa Springs State Park

    Wekiwa Springs State Park, located in Orange County, is just waiting to be explored. Discover a longleaf pine forest and sandhill uplands. Hammocks at the river's edge are thick and tropical-like. Wildflowers of multiple colors spring up at all times during the year to greet you. The park is home to an abundance of wildlife from iconic Florida black bears to the tiniest spiders who weave their intricate webs along the trails.

    Wekiwa Springs State Park is best known for its crystal clear springs which are a refreshing 72* all year long. Swimming and snorkeling are favorite pastimes. A swim lift is available for those who have difficulty with the steps leading to the springs.

    After enjoying a dip in the cool springs, cook an outdoor meal on one of the grills. Eat at a picnic table nearby or spread your blanket on the ground overlooking the springs. There is a playground for the kids, and a volleyball court and horseshoe pit for friends and family to enjoy.

    If the river is calling you, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards are available to rent. Paddle the Wekiva river where you will see an abundance of wildlife including alligators and turtles basking in the sun and osprey high in the treetops.

    Explore the trails of Wekiwa Springs State Park on foot, horseback, or bike. Trails range in length from 8/10 of a mile to 13.5 miles. The Tram Bed Horse Trail is perfect for horseback riding. Pedal along the bike trail or discover the many birds found along the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail within the park.

    Stargaze at one of the 60 spacious campsites in Sandhill habitat. Camp with your horses at Big Fork or experience primitive camping at Camp Cozy or Big Fork. A concession is available for your convenience should you forget to pack something.

    Make your day at the park a family affair. Bring your dog! Just be sure he or she is on a 6-foot leash.

    Plan your adventure today! Explore and discover Wekiwa Springs State Park!

    Wekiwa Springs State Park is located at 1800 Wekiwa Cir. Apopka FL 32712
    Plan your trip here: http://www.wekiwaspringsstatepark.com/plan.html
    Note- the park reaches capacity early in the day during the summer. It is best to arrive when the park opens.

    Photo credit: Andy Waldo images captured during several hikes throughout the year.

    #ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #WekiwaSpringsStatePark #SaturdaySaunter
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    As we touched on yesterday, it's sea turtle nesting season. One of our wonderful page followers, Linda Petzl Wilinski, sent us these amazing shots she took at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. We added them to the comments but they were just to good to leave them there.

    Make sure you stay off all turtle nest sites. If you are walking the beach and see a turtle, do not disturb it or them. As you can tell in these photos, do as Linda did and enjoy from a distance!

    Photo Credit: Linda Petzl Wilinski

    #imagineourflorida #iof #seaturtles #archiecarrnationalwildliferefuge
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    --- Eastern Grasshopper Lubber ---

    The Eastern Grasshopper Lubber, (Romalea guttata), is very distinctive in its coloration. They are yellow with black along the antenna, body, and abdomen. Their forewings which are rose or pink in color extend along the abdomen. The hind wings which are rose in color are short. They can grow as large as 3 inches and can be seen walking very slowly and clumsily along the ground. Lubbers cannot fly or jump but they are very good at climbing.

    The Grasshopper Lubber can be found in wet, damp environments but will lay their eggs in dry soil. The eggs are laid in the fall and begin hatching in the spring. The female will dig a hole with her abdomen and deposit 30-50 yellowish-brown eggs. They are laid neatly in rows called pods. She will produce 3-5 egg clusters and closes the hole with a frothy secretion. Nymphs wiggle through the froth and begin to eat. The male will guard the female during this time.

    Nymphs have a completely different appearance from the adults. They are black with yellow, orange or red strips. They will have 5-6 molts to develop their coloration, wings, and antennae. The coloration of adults will vary throughout their lives as well and they are often mistaken for different species. There is no diapause in the egg development and they take just 200 days to develop depending on temperature. A month after the Grasshopper becomes an adult, they begin to lay their eggs.

    Both females and males make noise by rubbing their front and hind wings together. When alarmed they will secrete and spray a foul-smelling froth. This chemical discharge repels predators and is manufactured from their diet. The Grasshopper's diet is so varied that it makes it difficult for predators to adapt to the toxin produced. Their bright color pattern is also a warning to predators that they are not good to eat. Birds and lizards avoid them but nymphs will be infected by parasites from the tachinid fly. Loggerhead Shrikes will capture the Grasshopper and impale it on thorns or barbed wire. After 2 days, the toxins in the lubber's body will deteriorate enough for the prey to be consumed.

    Lubbers are long-lived and both the adults and the nymphs can be found year-round in Florida. This Grasshopper occurs in such large numbers in Florida that they can cause damage to your landscape's plants. Lubbers will bore holes throughout a plant regardless if they are vegetables, citrus, or ornamentals. If their numbers are large enough they can decimate a plant.

    Did you know:
    Lubber is an old English word. It means a big, clumsy, stupid person, also known as a lout or lummox. In modern times, it is normally used only by seafarers, “landlubbers”.

    Photo credit: Dan Kon

    #ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #grasshopper #lubber
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    The moon lays down a path for hatchling sea turtles to find the ocean.

    Photo credit. Andy Waldo
    #ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #seaturtles #moon
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    --- Short-tailed Kingsnake ---

    Short-tailed kingsnakes, (lampropeltis extenuata), are as thin as a pencil and grow to an average length of 14 to 20 inches long. Their scales are smooth and gray in with a spotted pattern. They have dark spots down the middle of their backs as well as on their sides. The lighter color between the spots has an orange center.

    The Short-Tailed Kingsnake has a small oval-shaped head and round eyes. As the name implies, their tails are shorter than the tails of other snakes. This snake is nonvenomous and is not a threat to people. The Kingsnake consumes other snakes and lizards. They spend their lives below ground and are rarely seen. This snake is so rare that it is assumed eggs are laid below ground where it burrows. Reproduction has not been studied therefore, nothing is known about the number of eggs in Short-tailed kingsnake's clutch. They can be found in habitats of north-central Florida such as pine or coastal live oak hammocks and sand pine scrub.

    The Short-tailed Kingsnake is endemic to Florida. This snake is listed as threatened and protected by Florida state law. Their range is limited and conversion of habitat to citrus, mining, and development pose ongoing threats.

    Photo credit: Andy Waldo

    #ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #shortailedkingsnake #snake
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.
    Imagine Our Florida, Inc.Imagine Our Florida, Inc. shared a post.
    These are amazing. Have you ever seen one?Thank you Cuplet Fern Chapter!