Welcome to Learning is for Everyone of Tampa

LIFE of Tampa welcomes everyone, of all races, ethnicities, religions, family compositions, sexual orientations, learning styles, lifestyles, abilities and disabilities, and asks only that rules of civility, kindness and compassion be honored by all, for all.

This homepage and our online discussion group serve as an announcement and resource list for a variety of activities and events.

Visit LIFE of Florida for a great list of statewide and general learning resources.

Monday, May 25, 2009

LIFE Fest 2009 Planners Drawing Entries & Vendor Discount Deadline Nears

May 31 is the deadline for both our Planners Drawing Entries and a $50 Vendor Discount. Read on for more details:


The annual LIFE Fest Celebration of Learning will be held Saturday, September 26th at the EckerdConference Center and Lodge at 4200 54th Avenue South in St. Petersburg, FL from 10 a.m. – 5p.m.

This is a great location that lends itself well to a family friendly event, with Ft. Desoto camping and beaches just down the road,and St. Pete museums and other attractions nearby. After last year’s event drew over 300 guests, LIFE has reserved both Conference center buildings to better accommodate attendees, vendors, community groups, speakers and workshops.

The event brings together home and alternative learners from across Florida, educators, museum and library program organizers, community education groups, youth groups and clubs, parent support and networking groups, and anyone interested interested in exploring a wide variety of learning and teaching ideas, opportunities and resources.

As before admission is just a $10 donation per family, $8 prepaid via Network for Good (click and pay at
http://LIFEofFlorida.blogspot.com by August 21 - bring your receipt as your ticket). And, in the spirit of a Green LIFE Fest, carpool discounts of $10 a (safe and legal) carload will be available the day of the event.

Lodging is available right on the premises for $65/night. Call the Eckerd College Conference Center and Lodge at (800) 456-9009 to reserve your room before August 1.

There will be a variety of vendors, lots of free materials, great workshops,door prizes and raffles, and a fun and educational childrens area with art and animals, all adding up to a full day that will offer ample opportunities to meet other home and alternative educators from around the state and to learn how to make the most of a home based learning adventure.

Vendor booths are $100 if reserved by May 31; $150 after that, through August 21, and will be sold on a first-come, first-served, paid-in-full basis. A sliding scale may be considered for very small, family based businesses. An additional 10% discount is provided to vendors supplying a door prize.

Planners Drawing

As before, we’re inviting our guests to help plan the party by holding a Planners Drawing in which those who send us LIFE Fest ideas by May 31 are automatically entered to win a great prize (last year it was tickets to the Edison-Ford Estates).

So send your ideas now to info@learningis4everyone.org with “LIFE Fest Ideas” in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name, address and contact info and you'll be automatically entered in a special LIFE Fest Planner award drawing at LIFE Fest 2009. You have to be present to win -- but you're helping plan so why wouldn't you be?!

LIFE Fest Bazaar
This year, the LIFE Fest Bazaar will be held in its own room. Cost is still just $20 for Bazaar space. Vendors can sell books, curricula, toys, clothes, and any other (reasonable) household goods at our LIFE Fest Bazaar. There will also have a give-away table available.

Reserve by August 21
Vendor and LIFE Fest Bazaar booths must be reserved by August 21. More information will be available at Learning is for Everyone throughout the summer.

Program Advertising

Guests at LIFE Fest will receive a printed program describing the day's agenda, workshops and round table discussions, and listing vendors. Costs to advertise in the program range from $25 to $100. Contact Learning is for Everyone for a rate sheet.

Community and Support Groups

As always, free exhibit space will be provided to youth groups and clubs, home school and educational support groups, community education groups like libraries, parks, nature centers, and museums and associations providing free or very low cost learning opportunities.

If you feel your group or service qualifies, and you’d like to be part of LIFE Fest 2009 to provide outreach and information to guests about support and education programs, please send LIFE the name of your group, the services you provide, and the costs of your program(s).

For more information on any LIFE Fest 2009 opportunities, please email info@learningis4everyone.org for full details. Also contact LIFE if you're interested in hosting a presentation, program or workshop, or providing raffle or door prizes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Florida Virtual School Programs Safe

Just a short update -- Florida Virtual School reports that while the school suffered some cut backs like all schools in the state, no programs have been cut, nor will be in the foreseeable future.

Evidently, vigorous outspokenness by supporters helped legislators see what Florida Tax Watch Center (PDF) concluded in 2007 about FLVS (www.floridataxwatch.org/resources/pdf/110507FinalReportFLVS.pdf ):

"FLVS students outperformed their statewide counterparts on two independent assessments, both the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and Advanced Placement examinations. They earned higher grades in parallel courses. And this was accomplished with less money than was typically spent for instruction in traditional schools." (Up to $1000 per student less!)

At any rate, we can continue enjoying FLVS as we have before -- at least until the next budget go-rounds next year!

Reinvigorating Tampa Bay Mentor Match

A new report from America's Promise Alliance revisits the need for more mentors in America. The story talks mostly about public school graduation rates, which continues to be rather dismal ( only 53% graduate from high school on time).

Beyond the drop-out issue, though, the story goes on to say, “… with 15 million American children needing and wanting mentors, we continue to push for mentoring programs, funding and involvement to help our young people graduate from high school and succeed in life."

Tampa Bay Mentor Match is right here at home, providing just such a mentoring opportunity for Bay area youth, not specifically for drop out prevention , which is the usual use for mentoring and always a welcome by-product, but for personal enrichment and to help with academic, and career planning and exploration, as well as for just plain fun.

We’ve let TBMM languish a bit, but it’s time to visit it agaiin and reinvigorate it, so we can all enjoy both learning and teaching together in a new and more far reaching way.

So I’m doing a new call for Mentors as well as for Students interested in learning more – about anything! Here’s how it works:

Our Mentoring collaborative can provide opportunities for apprenticeship and the tapping of insights and ideas from willing adults who have experience in areas in which our kids are interested.

Spending time with an expert mentor – once a week, once a month, for an occasional lunch out, or for a day with someone where he or she works – can:

1) Help guide interested kids in their learning and career choices;

2) Connect them at the community level with respect to their interests;

3) Give them adult perspectives different from those in their own


4) And give them a realistic, hands-on look at careers and interests.

Mentoring is also a more realistic way for experts to help – it's certainly less time consuming than teaching a class, it's more personal, and certainly potentially more meaningful and enduring. Just the fact that you're not working with a group, but one on one makes it easier for kids to ask questions, and for experts to give more contextual replies and guidance.

So where are we going with all of this? We’re going to YOU!

What do you do? Whatever it is, you can rest assured that some child, somewhere in our community, is interested. If you're willing to act as a mentor to youth in your community – and you determine completely what that means with respect to your time and energy -- call me or drop me a line with a short overview of your expertise and how you think you can help a child with your shared interest.

And think about people you know – tap them for their willingness to mentor youth. For teens, that might include a day with the mentor, or regular visits at work, or possibly apprenticeships. For younger children, you'd probably want to accompany them, or have the mentor over to your home.

We build the MentorMatch directory. You decide all the comfort levels and parameters. We can do so much more than we're doing, and we can much better utilize the human capital we've got in great abundance here.

And ask your kids what they'd really like to learn about, what they're interested in. You might think you know. You might not! Then post your “seeking mentor” request here. And then we can take the whole thing even further with our online University of LIFE at :http://universityoflife.myicourse.com/

Anyone can be a "faculty" member of the University of LIFE. "Courses" can be long or short – a resource list; a couple pages of instructional material about something; a paper; a how-to. You name it, and we can do it. It's extraordinarily easy to use Myicourse, and it's completely free. We’ve got our First Amendment course on there now and can easily add more material.

The thing is, we can do so much more than we're doing, and we can much better utilize the human capital we've got in great abundance here.

So let me know what you think. Tell me what you do and how you can share it. Let's create a real learning community!

If you'd like to join us, drop us a line at info@learningis4everyone.org to request membership to the Wiki, and we'll help you get started.

Terri Willingham





Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Team Duct Tape, Award Winning Odessa Area High School Level Robotics Team, Accepting Members for 2009 Season

Team Duct Tape #2845, an award winning FIRST Tech Challenge ( FTC) community based robotics team based in Odessa, FL, is now accepting new team member applications through August.

FIRST Tech Challenge is a mid-level robotics competition for high-school students. The ultimate goal of FTC is to engage youth in discovering the excitement and rewards of science, technology, and engineering.

Team Duct Tape in its community based focus, is open to public, private and homeschooled youth from the Odessa area who otherwise might not have access to higher level math, science and technology programs.

In its Rookie season this past year, Team Duct Tape brought home:

  • The Inspire Award , for best all-round team, in its first qualifying competition
  • The Think Award for the Best Engineering Notebook
  • Two Winning Alliance Awards, as captains
  • And the Finalist Alliance Award in the Florida State Championship held at USF in February, ranking 9th of 24 teams from across the state.

The team is sponsored, in part, by the non-profit education resource organization, Learning is for Everyone, which believes that high quality STEM education should be accessible to all youth, and that all young people, boys and especially girls, with an interest in math, science, and technology should have an opportunity to express and explore those interests. LIFE Inc. seeks to bring high school level robotics as within reach as Scouting, and to make it as commonplace, accessible and fun as a pick up game of basketball.

Team Duct Tape is also sponsored by the Florida West Coast Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, who have assisted financially, with mentoring and training.

Opportunities coming up for students this summer include:

  • ProEngineer CAD design training
  • Game demonstration at the PTC Users World Event in Orlando in June
  • Tour of Electronic Arts in Orlando
  • Hosting FIRST LEGO League Summer camps

Please visit our website at www.TeamDuctTape.com to learn more and to download an application. New member applications will be accepted through August.

Learning is For Everyone, Inc. is a nonprofit 501 C(3) organization whose goal is to provide information resources on and off the web, and assistance through its activities in all aspects of education at all stages of life.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center Upcoming Events in May

All programs are free unless otherwise noted.

Please call (727) 453-6800 for information and reservations.


Guided Hikes
Saturday, May 2, 2009 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Saturday, May 9, 2009 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Saturday, May 16, 2009 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Saturday, May 23, 2009 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Saturday, May 30, 2009 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Education Services Volunteer, Environmental Lands Division
Take a walk through time each Saturday morning on a guided hike along the Education Center Trail. Join us for this 0.75 mile walk as we look at how the land has changed over time and discuss the ecological footprints left by those changes. Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must, and water and a hat are recommended. Pre-registration is required by 12:00 noon on the Friday before the hike. Admission: Free. All ages welcome - children younger than 6 may find this hike challenging.

Meet the Artist – “Kevin Grass Landscapes”
Sunday, May 3, 2009 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Artist Presentation 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Kevin Grass – Tarpon Springs, FL
A native of Missouri, Kevin Grass spent time while in high school on a wide variety of commissioned works ranging from portraits and landscapes to campaign signs and car decorations. Currently, he is an assistant professor of art at St. Petersburg College. Join us to meet the artist and discuss his unique work. Pre-registration is not required for this open reception. Visitors can enjoy this exhibit during normal Center hours beginning May 1, 2009 through June 28, 2009. Admission: Free. Recommended for adults – suitable for children 12 and older.

Wednesday Evening Walks
Wednesday, May 6, 2009 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
Many animals are most active at dawn and dusk, the time when nature’s day shift has ended but the night shift has yet to begin. Join us for a pleasant evening stroll as we discuss the many ways living things are adapted to make the best use of the twilight hours. Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must; water and insect repellant are suggested. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Admission: Free. Recommended for families with children age 10 and up.

Birds in Culture
Saturday, May 9, 2009 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
From ancient pictographs to modern stories, birds have played an important role in the everyday lives of humans. Join us as we celebrate International Migratory Bird Day by examining the fascinating influence of birds in the diverse cultures of North America. Admission: Free. Pre-registration is required. Recommended for families with children age 8 and up.

Open Classroom – Discovering Nature with Your Child
Sunday, May 10, 2009 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Sunday, May 24, 2009 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
Who lives in that skin? What is the difference between a carnivore and an herbivore? Whose tracks are those? Stop by our classroom anytime between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm to participate in a variety of self-guided nature games and activities that will answer these questions and many more. Pre-registration is not required for this open activity. Admission: Free. Recommended for all ages.

Cypress Swamp Café - Water for Wildlife
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
Join us for this series of presentations and discussions to explore ways you can live a sustainable lifestyle. This week presents water for wildlife. Join us to explore the wild-side of your neighborhood by providing bird baths, garden ponds and other sources of water for wildlife in your backyard. Pre-registration is required. Admission: Free. Recommended for adults.

Book Time at Brooker Creek – Tiny Workers: Ants in Your Backyard
Thursday, May 14, 2009 10:30 am – 11:15 am
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
This program is designed to connect pre-school children to the wonders of the natural world. This week presents Tiny Workers: Ants in Your Backyard by Nancy Loewen. Ants! You might not want to see these critters at your next picnic, but they are fascinating little workers. Children go underground to explore an anthill and learn about these busy insects in this lively tale. This program also includes a craft, game or other hands-on activity related to the story. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Admission: Free. Recommended ages: 3 – 5.

Dynamic Dragonflies
Saturday, May 16, 2009 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
Dragonflies provide a dazzling spectacle of color and aerobatics over a summer pond. Join us for this entertaining and engaging look at the lives of these dynamic creatures of the air. Participants will discover how dragonflies travel, eat and make more dragonflies. Live dragonflies may attend and participate in this program. Admission: Free. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Photography Hike
Sunday, May 17, 2009 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
This program is designed to provide great photographic opportunities for photographers of all levels. We discuss ways to set up good photographs while walking the Center trails in search of that perfect shot. Seasonal features of the Preserve and wildlife behaviors are highlighted to help participants capture the natural beauty of Brooker Creek Preserve. Admission: Free. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Recommended ages: 12 and up.

Green Industries Best Management Practices Educational Program
Monday, May 18, 2009 8:45 am – 3:30 pm
Pinellas County IFAS Extension
This workshop provides training and opportunity for certification in the FDEP Best Management Practices (BMPs) for those working in the lawn, landscape, pest control, or municipal grounds maintenance industries. Best Management Practices are focused on reducing non-point source pollution resulting from fertilization or pesticide application. A new Florida Department of Agriculture rule requires that BMPs be followed when applying fertilizer to turf. State legislation is pending that will require BMP education and certification for commercial fertilizer applicators. Be one of the first in the industry to have the required state certification. This event is sponsored in part by a grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Fee: $15 for registrations postmarked by May 14, 2009 and $20 at the door. Please go to http://www.pinellascounty.org/eNVIRONMENT/pagesHTML/se10pdfs/BMPFlyer2009.pdf for registration and more information. Recommended for professionals working in lawn, landscape, pest control and municipal grounds maintenance industries.

Spring Butterfly Identification Seminar
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Ecological Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
It’s time once again for the Spring Butterfly Count at Brooker Creek Preserve. Join us for this special seminar to learn the skills needed to identify species of butterfly that frequent the Preserve. Admission: Free. Pre-registration required. Recommended for adults, suitable for children ages 12 and up.

Brooker Creek Preserve Spring Butterfly Count
Saturday, May 23, 2009 9:30 am – 2:00 pm
Ecological Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
Each Spring Butterfly Count contributes data to the important long-term monitoring program through the North American Butterfly Association. Call (727) 453-6900 for more information or to sign up. First-time volunteers are urged to participate in the Butterfly Identification Seminar offered on May 20, 2009. Admission: Free. Pre-registration required. Recommended for adults, suitable for children ages 12 and up.

Family Butterfly Gardening
Saturday, May 23, 2009 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
Spring has sprung and the time is right for working in the yard. You can add color and life to your home landscape through plantings that attract butterflies. Join us to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day while learning how to install a butterfly garden with your family. Admission: Free. Best for families with children ages 6 and up.

Book Time at Brooker Creek – Small Green Snake
Thursday, May 28, 2009 10:30 am – 11:15 am
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
This program is designed to connect pre-school children to the wonders of the natural world. This week features Small Green Snake by Libba Moore Gray. The world is a big exciting place for a young garter snake as it wanders away from home and into adventure in this delightful tale. This program also includes a craft, game or other hands-on activity related to the story. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Admission: Free. Recommended ages: 3 – 5.

Home Invaders – Creatures That Live in Your House
Saturday, May 30, 2009 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division
Spiders, roaches and mice, oh my! These are just a few of the creatures that sometimes share our homes with us. Most humans consider these uninvited housemates pests. However, each takes advantage of a special niche provided by our homes and our habits. Join us as we learn to appreciate these common home invaders and discover more environmentally-friendly ways to discourage them. Admission: Free. Best for adults, suitable for ages 12 and up.

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Call (727) 453-6800 for registration and information

Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center

3940 Keystone Road
Tarpon Springs, FL 34680

Center Hours:
Wednesday 9:00am - 8:30pm
Thursday - Sunday 9:00am - 4:00pm
Closed Monday, Tuesday and Holidays