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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

December HLN: Research for fun and knowledge, and awards!

Join us for our December Home Learning Network meeting on Monday, December 6 at 7pm at Jimmy Keel Library, where we’ll be hearing two short student research presentations on biomedical technology from some FIRST LEGO League students, and taking the opportunity to learn how to help our kids develop good research skills (ie - it's not what you know,that matters, but that you know where to find what you need to know!)

Research is an important part of any good education program, a big component of many academic competitions like Odessey of the Mind, Siemens, and FIRST LEGO League robotics, among others.

FIRST LEGO League kids, in particular, do some pretty hefty research! Two local LEGO League teams - Brick Buddies and TechnoForce, both of which consist mostly of homeschooled elementary and middle school aged students - will be joining us to share some of their research projects on this season's Biomedical Technology theme. Brick Buddies will be presenting their short research project on educating people about Food Allergies and new solutions for treating them. TechnoForce will be presenting their research project on exoskeletons.

After the student presentations, there will be Q&A opportunities, followed by a look at ways to make research effective, fun and meaningful, including some of the research tools and methods the LEGO League students use and ways to incorporate research into your homeschool program using a academic competitions, which definitely make applying research skills more fun and interesting.
The Home Learning Network typically meets the first Monday of (most) months at the Jimmy Keel Public Library in Tampa. We have a different topic each month, or no topic at all, and conversation ranges across all homeschool and educational topics.
So join us for a fun, free evening of camaraderie, discussion and great educational ideas, at Jimmy Keel Public Library at 2902 West Bearss Avenue , Monday, December 6, at 7PM.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

November Home Learning Network: College Planning, Monday, Nov. 1, 7PM

Back by popular demand – College Prep 101. We’ll actually spend the next couple of Home Learning Network meetings exploring the ins and outs of college planning. We’ll look at basic college preparatory coursework recommendations, testing, transcript building, college applications, interviews, finding scholarships, and more.

The Home Learning Network typically meets the first Monday of (most) months at the Jimmy Keel Public Library in Tampa. We have a different topic each month, or no topic at all, and conversation ranges across all homeschool and educational topics.

So join us for a fun, free evening of camaraderie, discussion and great educational ideas, at Jimmy Keel Public Library at 2902 West Bearss Avenue , Monday, November 1, at 7PM.

Voter Education Resources

It's election time (as if you couldn't tell from the onslaught of silly campaign ads), and time to get down to the business of separating fact from fiction (as much as possible) and trying to make some educated election decisions.

To that end, here are four great, nonpartisan civic engagement resources:
There are many more at Learning is for Everyone's Civic Resources page, too.

So good luck, and vote carefully out there!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bach Festival Society Young Artist Competition

This prestigious competition provides high school vocalists and instrumentalists throughout Florida the exceptional opportunity to prepare for performance before judges who are respected in their field. The winners of this annual all-state competition perform their winning selections at a concert that is free and open to the public, benefiting the community not only by providing an enriching musical experience, but also by offering role models to youngsters and inspiring future art patrons. For more information about the competition, or to obtain an entry form, email education@bachfestivalflorida.org.

Visit http://www.bachfestivalflorida.org/outreach/young-artist-competition for more information.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Two Great College Resources: Florida Trend NEXT Magazine and College Live!

Florida Trend’s NEXT Magazine Now Available

Florida Trend’s NEXT is a magazine designed to help Florida teens prepare for their future after high school, whether that involves college, technical school or the workforce. Copies of the 2010-2011 edition have been provided free of charge to over 900 high schools across the state. Students may contact their guidance counselor to obtain a copy, or visit http://www.floridanext.com/  to view the complete digital e-dition. While at the website, students can also sign up to receive monthly eNEXTletters, request more information from magazine sponsors and advertisers and register for a chance to win a $1,000 gift card.

For teachers and counselors, NEXT also provides an accompanying Classroom Activity Guide filled with engaging lessons to help students apply information from the magazine to their own lives. The Classroom Activity Guide is available exclusively at www.FloridaNEXT.com under the “Teachers’ Lounge” heading. Here, educators can also register to receive their own monthly eNEXTletters; those who register by Oct. 31, 2010, will be entered in a drawing to win one of five $50 Amazon.com gift cards.

For more information about NEXT, please contact Tanya Creneti at editor@FloridaNEXT.com.
College Week Live!

CollegeWeekLive! is coming to a computer near you on Nov. 3 – 4, 2010. The free online event is designed to connect prospective students with colleges and universities in a live interactive environment. Attendees will be able to navigate through a virtual exhibition hall, visit virtual booths, and learn about scholarship resources and networking capabilities, as well as win prizes and take advantage of special discounts from event sponsors and participating organizations. More than 300 colleges and universities will be represented and students can chat with admissions officers and students on topics such as filling out their application, how to write a winning application essay and how to pay for college. Registration is free at http://www.collegeweeklive.com/ .

Upcoming Florida Academic Contests and Awards

Check out upcoming contests for Florida students:
  • 2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week Poster and Video Contests
  • Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Seeking Nominations
  • Celebrate Literacy Week Public Service Announcement Contest
  • Careers in Energy Week Essay Contest
2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week Poster and Video Contests
The Florida Division of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross are again teaming up to sponsor the Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week campaign that includes a poster and video public service announcement contest. Students are encouraged to submit an entry about how to be prepared for the natural hazards that affect the Sunshine State. Entries for both contests must be received by Jan. 10, 2011.

Poster Contest
Florida fourth and fifth grade public, private and homeschool students are invited to submit an entry for the poster contest. The winner’s artwork will be displayed in the State Emergency Operations Center the first full week of Feb. 2011. Prizes include tickets for the winner and his or her family to Walt Disney World, weather radios and other prizes. Entries must be postmarked by Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, and must arrive at the American Red Cross office in Tallahassee by Jan. 10, 2011.

Video Public Service Announcement Contest
Florida middle and high school students in grades 6-8 and 9-12 in public, private and homeschools are invited to produce a 30-second public service announcement that incorporates a safety or preparedness message about one of the following topics: Hurricane Preparedness, Flood Safety, or Building a Disaster Supply Kit. One individual or group (limit four individuals per group) winner will be chosen for both middle and high school videos with the winning video to be professionally reproduced for broadcast by the Division of Emergency Management in their statewide public awareness campaign. Prizes include professional production of the video in the winner’s hometown with the winner serving as project director, tickets for the winner and his or her family to Walt Disney World, weather radios and other exciting prizes. Final digital videos must be mastered as a DVD, postmarked by Friday, Jan.7, 2011, and received by the Florida Division of Emergency Management by Jan. 10, 2010.
Complete contest rules and information for both contests can be found at www.FloridaDisaster.org/SWAW/2011.


Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Seeking Nominations

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honor middle and high school student volunteers in grades five though 12 for their community service and the search is on to identify young Floridians for their contributions during the past year. The awards, presented by Prudential Financial, Inc., in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, are the nation’s largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer community service. Interested students, principals and community members are encouraged to nominate individuals in recognition of their volunteer service. The deadline for applications is Nov. 1, 2010. Visit http://spirit.prudential.com or www.principals.org/spirit  for more information and an application packet.
Celebrate Literacy Week Public Service Announcement Contest

The Florida Department of Education’s Just Read, Florida! Office encourages all students in grades K-12 to create a 26-second public service announcement on the topic “Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! – Champions Read, Readers Lead.” The contest is part of 2011 Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!, a week-long salute that celebrates and promotes the importance of literacy in Florida. Entries should be created with a combination of video and audio effects, must include credits and may not include any copyrighted music, footage or images. All entries must be received by the Just Read, Florida! Office by Dec. 17, 2010. Complete contest details can be found at http://www.justreadflorida.com/literacyweek.asp . If you have any questions, send an e-mail to justread@fldoe.org  or contact Kevin Smith at (850) 245-0503 .
Careers in Energy Week Essay Contest

Careers in Energy Week, led by the Florida Energy Workforce Consortium (FEWC) with the support of Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the Center for Energy Workforce Development, is a week dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness of energy careers and their importance to our communities, state, and nation. The weeklong recognition is Oct. 18-22, 2010, and will be highlighted by an essay contest for Florida high school students (grades 9-12) around the theme, “Energy Workers Make a World of Difference.” The contest guidelines and registration form are available at http://www.fewc.org/?page_id=136 . iPods will be awarded to the top three winners in the state, and winning entries will be published on the FEWC's websites at http://www.fewc.org/  and http://www.getintoenergyflorida.com/ .

Friday, October 1, 2010

LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee!

LIFE of Tampa will be hosting a Spelling Bee for homeschoolers in the Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas County areas in January.  The date and location will be announced soon, but the winner of the LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee will go on to compete in the 2011 Tampa Bay Area Regional Spelling Bee on March 5, at Admiral Farragut Academy. 

Loni Kaplan, a veteran organizer of the Spelling Bee in the Tampa Bay area for the last five years, will be our announcer.  LIFE of Tampa is delighted to collaborate with Loni to keep the Bee going in our area, and is grateful for her experienced guidance.  In keeping with previous practice, participants will not be divided into grade or age levels, but will compete together, in the style of the regional competition in March.  There is no minimum grade level for participation. 

To prepare for both the local and regional Bee, participants should be thoroughly familiar with  the  2011 Spell It! words, which are available online at http://www.myspellit.com/ . The Scripps National Spelling Bee's official reference is Webster's Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, copyright 2002, Merriam-Webster, Inc. All words on lists published by the Scripps National Spelling Bee may be found in Webster's Third. Please note that all participants should read and be aware of the Rules for Local Spelling Bees.   All participants will also receive study guides .

Registration is open through December 31, 2010. We ask a contribution of $5 per participant at the time of registration, to help defray associated Bee costs, via a donation to Network for Good, or with a check to Learning is for Everyone , the parent non-profit supporter of LIFE of Tampa (email for address). Please note "LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee" in memo section.

  • December 31, 2010 - Deadline to register for the LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee
  • January 2011 - LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee - exact date and location TBA
  • February 11, 2011 - Deadline to conduct a school spelling bee
  • February 11, 2011 - Deadline to register your school bee champion for the 2011 Tampa Bay Area Regional Spelling Bee
  • March 5, 2011 - 2011 Tampa Bay Area Regional Spelling Bee at Admiral Farragut Academy's Chapel
Email willinghamster@gmail.com for more information or to register participants.  All registered students will receive study guides and other support materials.

Happy Spelling!

Monday, September 27, 2010

1st Annual Tampa Bay Veg Fest - October 2

Florida Voices for Animals proudly presents Tampa Bay Veg Fest, Saturday, October 2nd ~ 10am - 6pm

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
600 N. Ashley Drive
Tampa, FL 33602

The 1st Annual Tampa Bay Veg Fest will be held at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa in honor of World Farm Animals Day. Admission is FREE! Join us for an exciting day of educational exhibits and events, including activities for children. Pets on leashes are welcome. The event will include healthy living and eco-friendly exhibitors, nationally-known and local speakers, non-profits, fun and games for kids, dog and cat adoptions, restaurant booths with delicious veg food, and live music and entertainment. This website will be continually updated as additional sponsors, vendors, restaurants and musicians are added.

Visit http://tampabayvegfest.org/ for more information

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LIFE Fest 2010 Program Online!

The program for LIFE Fest 2010 is online and freely available. 

We've got an exciting program on tap for Saturday, September 18th, at the Orange County Extension Education Center, and we hope you'll join us for a full day of fun and learning together. 

Childcare is available for the day for just $20, and we have a wealth of enriching program content, plenty of hands on opportunities for all ages, and a great collection of raffle and door prize items.

Check out the LIFE Fest 2010 Program and see how much fun you can have for $10 for the whole family!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

September HLN: Youth Academic Competitions

Due to the Labor Day holiday, September’s Home Learning Network meeting will be held on Wed., Sept. 8 at 7pm . We’ll be talking about Youth Academic Competitions, like the Scripps Spelling Bee, the National Geographic Bee, FIRST robotics and others, and you’ll have a chance to talk to some event organizers, parents and students who’ve participated in events -– including Tommy Foster who recently competed at the National Spelling Bee in Washington DC.

The Home Learning Network typically meets the first Monday of (most) months at the Jimmy Keel Public Library in Tampa. We have a different topic each month, or no topic at all, and conversation ranges across all homeschool and educational topics.

So join us for a fun, free evening of camaraderie, discussion and great educational ideas, at Jimmy Keel Public Library at 2902 West Bearss Avenue , Wednesday, September 8, at 7pm.

Monday, July 26, 2010

August Home Learning Network: TED Talks in Education

The Home Learning Network is back! We’ll be looking at TED Talks in Education, screening some of the TED and TEDx Talks to see how these engaging presentations can provide some great learning opportunities.

The Home Learning Network resumes meeting the first Monday of (most) months at the Jimmy Keel Public Library in Tampa. We have a different topic each month, or no topic at all, and conversation ranges across all homeschool and educational topics. Sometimes we have guest speakers. And I think we always have fun. :-) And it's free!

So join us for an evening of great videos and discussion, at Jimmy Keel Public Library at 2902 West Bearss Avenue , Monday, August 2, at 7 pm.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Crystal Springs High Adventure Eco-Classes for Students 13+

A LIFE member shares this update:
Crystal Springs has only had 4 students sign up for the highschool classes for next year and they need 15 for the class to be a go. Kate has been taking these classes for years and they are wonderful. I can't say enough about how much she has learned, how great the teachers are and what a great resource Crystal Springs is for high school students. This is the first year they have had more than three class days in their highschool segment. Due to parent requests they have expanded the program to 7 full days (1 class per month for 7 months) for highschoolers and now people are not signing up. This class is even good for middle school students who love science and love to be outdoors. Please take a moment to look at their website and consider this class for your children. If you have any questions they would be more than willing to answer them. Their website is: http://crystalspringspreserve.com/index.php

Here is the class description:
Homeschool High Adventure Eco-Classes for students 13 & up
Class Dates: 9/27, 10/18, 11/15, 1/17, 2/21, 3/21, and 4/18
Time: 9:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Cost per student: $140 (includes all 7 classes and all equipment/materials)

Your reservation will not be confirmed until the payment for the entire series has been received. Class space is limited so don't delay.
Class Description::
For the first hour of every class, students will research, discuss, and investigate current environmental issues as a group. The rest of the class time will be spent performing scientific experiments in the habitat and participating in a river stewardship program. We will divide 1 mile of the river corridor into 6 different segments. Each class except the first class will feature a different segment of the river. In each section of the river, soil experiments, water chemistry experiments, benthic surveys, biodiversity surveys, tree surveys, stream flow tests, and turbidity tests will be performed by the students. In the first class, we will teach the students how to perform the different experiments.

Students will enter data and create data charts. Students will then analyze the data from all 6 segments of the river system.
Students will use canoes on most days. Life jackets will be provided.

What to Bring:
Water shoes/old tennis shoes, change of clothes, towel, bug spray, sunscreen, water bottle, lunch, and snacks

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Community Forum, Pallidium Theater, June 15, 6-9pm

Gulf Oil Spill Community Forum

What: Gulf Oil Spill Community Forum
Where: Palladium Theater - 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Directions & Parking
The Palladium Theater is located in Downtown St. Petersburg, FL at Fifth Avenue North and Third Street North. The theater is reached via Exit 23A from I-275 to Third Street North, then left one block.
Parking is available in the lot across Fifth Avenue from the theater or in the lot adjacent to the theater.

When: Tuesday June 15th - 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

FREE and open to the public.

Click here to register!
Questions? Email GulfSpillForum@gmail.com
Updated Agenda:

6:00 p.m. Welcoming Remarks
Susan Glickman, Florida Business Network for a Clean Energy Economy

6:10 – 7:00 p.m. Panel 1: About the Gulf Oil Spill
Moderated by Laurie Macdonald, Defenders of Wildlife
Dr. Ian MacDonald, Florida State University
William Hogarth, Dean, College of Marine Science at USF
Dan Berard, Geophysical Engineer
DT Minich, Visit St. Petersburg & Clearwater

7:10 – 8:00 p.m. Panel 2: The Media's Perspective
Moderated by Ernest Hooper, St. Petersburg Times
Preston Rudie, Channel 10 CBS WTSP-TV
Rob Lorei, WMNF Radio, and WEDU-TV
John Hill, St. Petersburg Times
Mitch Perry, Creative Loafing
Jan Hollingsworth, reporter & editor

8:10 - 9:00 p.m. Panel 3: Solutions
Moderated by Darden Rice, Gulf Restoration Network
Cynthia Sarthou, Gulf Restoration Network
Susan Glickman, Florida Business Network for a Clean Energy
David Friedman, Union of Concerned Scientists
David Pettit, Natural Resources Defense Council

Visit http://floridacleanenergy.biz/spillforum/ to register or for more information.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Oil Spill and Volunteer Info

From the Florida Master Naturalist program:


As the environmental catastrophe referred to as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill continues to unfold in the Gulf, there may be need for our help. I know there is also great interest in the progress on containing the spill and the efforts to clean up the mess it leaves, which may eventually include shorelines in Florida.

I have waited to send this email to ensure I provide the best and most accurate information available.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on the spill and containment efforts, please refer to the official website for the Deepwater Horizon Response at: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/

This website has a great deal of information, including daily updates.

To see an image of the approximate extent of the spread of the spill in the Gulf, as reported and prepared by USA Today, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/oil-spill-map.htm.

Volunteer assistance is needed and the official FLORIDA volunteer response website for the Deep Horizon Oil Spill is through the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service at: http://www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org/

There are many links for various volunteer activities on this website.

Note that a companion website: http://www.1-800-volunteer.org/1800Vol/volunteerflorida/viewEventDetails.do?eventId=31601

Specifies that:

“Volunteers will not be in direct contact with oil or oil-contaminated materials. Oil-contaminated materials will only be handled by trained, paid workers such as Qualified Community Responders (QCR) and not by volunteers. Oiled wildlife will only be handled by trained, contracted professionals. Even though volunteer opportunities with the oil spill are limited, volunteer opportunities in your local community are limitless. Many organizations need support and service now more than ever. The oil spill is bringing communities together, and your volunteer service strengthens local responding groups. Thank you for the time you give now, and the time you will continue to give after the oil spill.”

However, there may be a great deal of assistance needed doing other services, and I encourage you to register.

Additional ways to assist and report important information include:

Reporting oiled wildlife – the FLORIDA hotline to call to report oiled wildlife is: 1-866-557-1401

Reporting oil on the shoreline - the FLORIDA hotline to call to report oiled wildlife is: 1-877-272-8335 (1-877-2-SAVE-FL) or #DEP from your cell phone.

Two documents that provide useful information regarding oil spill reporting can be viewed (and printed) online at:



Let’s hope the latest efforts to contain the spill are successful and that Florida’s coastal environment is not severely damaged, but let’s also prepare to assist in the clean-up and associated actions to the extent we are able.


Martin B. Main, PhD
Professor, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Program Leader, Florida Master Naturalist Program (http://www.masternaturalist.ifas.ufl.edu/)
University of Florida
SW Florida Research and Education Center
2685 State Road 29 North
Immokalee, FL 34142
ph: 239.658.3400 fax: 239.658.3469

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center - April Events

Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center

Upcoming Events

April 2010


All programs are free unless otherwise noted.

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

Please do not reply to this email for any purpose other than to unsubscribe


Center Hours: Thursday – Saturday 9:00am – 4:00pm

Preserve & Hiking Trails: Thursday – Sunday 7:00am – 1 hour before sunset

Horse & Friendship Trails will remain open 7 days per week


The Center is located at 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs, Florida, 34688

Or visit our website at http://www.brookercreekpreserve.org/

Guided Hikes

Saturday, April 3, 2010 9:00 am – 10:30 am

Saturday, April 10, 2010 9:00 am – 10:30 am

Saturday, April 17, 2010 9:00 am – 10:30 am

Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division

Take a walk through time each Saturday morning on a guided hike along the Education Center Trail. Join us for this 0.7-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. Free. All ages welcome - children younger than 6 may find this hike challenging.

Teacher Training Workshop

Saturday, April 3, 2010 8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Education Services Staff, Environmental Lands Division

Brooker Creek Preserve is the perfect place to connect classroom concepts to the natural world. This workshop provides teachers with the training and materials necessary to design and lead learning experiences tailored to their classroom curriculum goals. Workshops are intended for teachers willing to lead their own field trips and are required of those teachers interested in using the Center’s equipment and facilities other than public trails and the exhibit hall. Pre-registration is required. Call and ask for the educator in charge of this workshop for more information or to register. Free. Great for teachers of all grade levels.

Book Time at Brooker Creek – Jack’s Garden

Thursday, April 8, 2010 10:30 am - 11:15 am

Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division

This program is designed to connect pre-school children to the wonders of the natural world. This week features Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole. Come watch Jack’s garden grow and bloom. This beautifully illustrated tale follows the garden from seed to bloom, teaching us about soil, weather, insects and more. The program also includes a craft, game or other hands-on activity related to the story. Pre-registration is required. Spaces are limited so register early! Free. Recommended ages: 3 – 5.

Beginning Bird Hike

Saturday, April 10, 2010 8:30 am – 10:30 am

Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division

Join us for an early morning stroll to look for birds on the Education Center trails. This walk will cover basic skills in bird identification, where to find birds, and how to use binoculars. Bring your own binoculars or borrow a pair of ours. Pre-registration is required. Free. Recommended for adults and children age 12 and older.

Open Classroom - Discovering Nature with Your Child

Saturday, April 10, 2010 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Education Services Volunteers, 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 12:00 pm 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. Free. All ages welcome.

The Wild Side of Your Neighborhood – Nest Box Workshop

Saturday, April 10, 2010 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division

You don’t have to visit a wilderness area to observe wildlife. One good way to attract wildlife to your own backyard is to provide shelter for raising young. Join us to learn how to make your landscape more environmentally friendly with nest boxes and other forms of shelter. Participants have an opportunity to build a nest box to take home. Pre-registration is required and the fee for this program is $10.00. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Changing Seasons Guided Hike

Friday, April 16, 2010 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division

Seasonal changes in Florida can be subtle, even to long time residents. Join us for a guided walk as we look for evidence of the changing seasons along the trail. Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must, and water and a hat are recommended. Pre-registration is required. Free. All ages welcome - children younger than 6 may find this hike challenging.

Birds of Prey

Saturday, April 17, 2010 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Gabe Vargo, Ph.D., University of South Florida and Boyd Hill Nature Park

They soar, they swoop, and they rule the skies. Join Dr. Vargo, retired-emeritus professor and avian education volunteer at Boyd Hill Nature Park, with his live cast of local owls and a hawk for a look at the life history of these majestic birds. In this program, Dr. Vargo discusses the characteristics that make raptors successful predators, their ecology and natural history, their importance and role in the ecosystem, and the problems they encounter in our human-modified environments. Pre-registration is required. Free. All ages welcome.

Book Time at Brooker Creek – The Very Clumsy Click Beetle

Thursday, April 22, 2010 10:30 am - 11:15 am

Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division

This program is designed to connect pre-school children to the wonders of the natural world. This week features The Very Clumsy Click Beetle by Eric Carle. This delightful tale focuses on a young click beetle as it learns to do what older beetles can already do so well. Children are introduced to species commonly found in Florida forests while learning that practice pays off, even for beetles. Pre-registration is required. Spaces are limited so register early! Free. Recommended ages: 3 – 5.

Spring Has Sprung Extended Hike

Saturday, April 24, 2010 9:00 am – 11:30 am

Education Services Volunteers, Environmental Lands Division

Spring’s warmer temperatures and lengthening days bring about many changes in the natural landscape. Join us for a brisk walk along one of the longer trails to experience spring in the Preserve. This walk, depending on trail conditions, may be 2.8 to 4-miles long. Pre-registration is required by 12:00 noon on the Friday before the hike. Free. All ages welcome - children younger than 12 may find this hike challenging.

Going Green “The Musical”

Saturday, April 24, 2010 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Play’N Around Traveling Children’s Theatre Company, New Port Richey, FL

Penelope Jane is back and this time she’s learning the importance of “Going Green.” Join her and all of her friends as they find out what happens when we all get together to make a difference in our world today. This fun, interactive musical performance introduces children to the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling. Pre-registration is requested. Free. All ages welcome.

Pinellas Diversified – Art Exhibit at Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center

Back by popular demand Brooker Creek Preserve Art Exhibits!!! Come join us as we introduce our newest Local Artist of the month. This Art Exhibit will be on display until May 29, 2010.

Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center
Artist Event
April and May 2010

Pinellas Diversified – Art Exhibit at Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center

April 1, 2010 through May 29, 2010

Cathy Morgan – Clearwater, FL

The paintings in this exhibit show us a view of Pinellas County through the eyes of one artist, Cathy Morgan. Melding realism and modernism, she refines her paintings down to pure essence. The great energy and expressive color of her work reveal the thought and meaning in each brush stroke. This exhibit of oil and pastel art explores the many facets of life in Pinellas County. Join us for a chance to meet the artist and learn more about this unique body of work at a special three-hour social on Saturday, May 1, 2010, 1:00 pm. Visitors can enjoy this exhibit during normal Center hours April 1, 2010 through May 29, 2010. For more information please call (727) 453-6800.


All programs are free unless otherwise noted.

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

Please do not reply to this email for any purpose other than to unsubscribe


Center Hours: Thursday – Saturday 9:00am – 4:00pm

Preserve & Hiking Trails: Thursday – Sunday 7:00am – 1 hour before sunset

Horse & Friendship Trails will remain open 7 days per week


The Center is located at 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs, Florida, 34688

Or visit our website at http://www.brookercreekpreserve.org/

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nature’s Classroom Earth Day Celebration April 24th and 25th

Nature's Classroom is having its third annual Earth Day Celebration and Open House Event April 24th and 25th, 2010. This is a great opportunity to bring your family, friends, business partners, acquaintances and co-workers to the outdoors for a day of fun!

This event was started in 2008 as a response to the constant requests from the greater community to be able to see what this School District program is all about. Over 4,000 guests visited the property last year enjoying live music, children's activities, exhibitors, art displays and, of course, our animal collection. This year, with the water levels up, we will be able to offer boat rides on the Hillsborough River as well!

I hope to see you on the 24th and 25th!

Thank you for any and all support you can give us!

Karen (Johnson) Folsom

Site Administrator

Nature's Classroom, (school mail Rt 3)

13100 Verges Rd

Thonotosassa, FL 33592

(813) 987-6969 ext. 222

(813) 987-6792 (Fax)


Camp Bayou Spring Open House April 17th

Saturday, April 17, 2010 8am-2pm
Schedule of Activities:

8am: Great American Cleanup begins– register at Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful

9 am: Trail games begin– Butterfly Blingo, Scavenger Hunt, Geocaching, Letterboxing and more...

10 am: Wetland Walk-n-Wade – Take a walk through the wetlands to the river to see what critters we can net.

11 am: Nature activities and crafts– get into the outdoors with a variety of nature-related projects including a few citizen science options.

Noon: Spring Member BBQ– Free for current members or become a member for as little as $10. Pulled pork and hot dogs provided by Camp Bayou. Please bring a side dish or dessert to share (optional).

1 pm: Nature presentation- It's a Jungle Out There: Imagined and Real Dangers Outdoors

On-going throughout the day:

- Fossil Museum open

- Fossil pit dig (for small fee)

- Nature Center open

- 3 trails through varied habitats

- Canoe launch open

- Native People's Camp

- Native plants for sale

- Cart tours every half hour beginning at 9:30 am.

All the activities are family-friendly. This event supports No Child Left Inside (http://www.nclicoalition.org//) and is part of National Environmental Education Week (http://www.eeweek.org/), as well as an opportunity to Get Outdoors Florida! (http://getoutdoorsflorida.org/).

Camp Bayou is nether a campground nor a summer camp. It was an RV park before the County's ELAP program purchased the land but it is now open for day use only, open to the general public. Through volunteers, donations, membership and grants, the RCDF offers pre-scheduled programs to schools, youth groups, adult groups and families plus it's open from Thursday- Saturday from 9am-2pm for passive recreational pursuits such as wildlife watching, nature photography and trail walks. General admission is still FREE.

The Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is a public- private partnership between the non-profit Ruskin Community Development Foundation, Inc. (RCDF) and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation. Camp Bayou is located 3 miles south of SR674 at the end of 24th St SE in Ruskin.

More information is on the web at http://www.campbayou.org/ or call 813-641-8545.

Photos available at http://picasaweb.google.com/campbayou

Dolly Cummings




Monday, March 22, 2010

New Civics Education Program Launched

The Museum of Florida History, the Florida Historic Capitol and the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee have joined together to create a new civics education program for seventh grade classes focused on voting rights and responsibilities. The “Making My Vote Count” program introduces the history and process of elections in Florida and the United States and the importance of becoming involved, engaged citizens. Groups of up to 30 students will participate in activities at all three locations in Tallahassee and become familiar with the election process. Groups larger than 30 will be divided into smaller groups.

Establishing Your Voting Rights” – At the historic Florida Capitol, students debate and vote on a legislative issue that once was considered by the Florida House of Representatives.

Protecting Your Voting Rights” – At the Florida Supreme Court, students role play an oral argument and vote to determine the Court’s decision.

Exercising Your Voting Rights” – At the Museum of Florida History, students learn about events and laws related to voting rights and conduct mock elections.

More information about the “Making My Vote Count” civics program, including available dates, can be found at www.floridasupremecourt.org/education/civics.shtml. Contact Tricia Knox with the Florida Supreme Court Public Information Office, at knoxt@flcourts.org  or (850) 921-9446 for program availability.

College Week, Live Connects Students With Colleges and Universities

CollegeWeek, Live is a free online college admissions event that provides an opportunity for high school students to connect with college and university admissions representatives throughout Florida and the nation to learn about their postsecondary education options. Attendees can watch keynote presentations from leading experts on admission topics such as application essays and financial aid, and participate in webcam sessions with current students on their perspective of college life. Register for free at http://www.collegeweeklive.com/. For a list of participating postsecondary institutions, visit www.collegeweeklive.com/en_CA/guest/app-colleges.

CollegeWeekLive Spring – March 24 – 25, 2010, 10:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m. Meet with hundreds of schools online and participate in presentations that cover the entire range of college admissions topics.

CollegeWeekLive Florida Day – May 6, 2010, 12:00 p.m. through 10:00 p.m. Meet with over 20 Florida colleges and universities online and participate in presentations covering Florida-related topics.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Doug Scull's Week-Long Summer Safaris

This year marks my 15th year of offering Nature Safaris. These are week-long adventures for children ages 6-13 years old. Each day the Junior Explorers travel to a different & unique place to experience a bit of the natural and REAL FLORIDA.

Some examples of what we do during Safaris:

the caves in the Withlacoochee Forest or the Sacred Hills at Medard Park

creatures living in the shallow waters of Ft. Desoto or the streams of Brooker Creek

the waters of the Hillsborough River or the Myakka

in the Gulf or in a favorite fresh-water lake

Weeks Available                       Home Base

June 7th - June 11th                 Fossil Park, St. Pete.

June 14th - June 18th 1st         United Methodist, Brandon

June 21st - June 25th               John Chestnut Park,Palm Harbor

June 28th - July 2nd                Al Lopez Park, Tampa

July 5th - July 9th                    Fossil Park, St. Pete.

July 19th - July 23rd                1st United Methodist, St. Pete.

Time: 9:00am - 4:00pm

Fee: $200.00 per week

To Register:
1) complete attached Registration Form

2) mail Registration Form along with $75.00 non-refundable deposit to:

• Doug Scull 172 74th. Ave. N., St. Petersburg, Fl. 33702

For more information please email dougscullhope@hotmail.com

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sunshine Week Essay Contest Announced

Governor Charlie Crist invites all Florida students in grades nine through 12 to participate in the 2010 Sunshine Week essay contest. Sunshine Week is observed March 14-20, 2010, and celebrates Florida’s laws dedicated to making state and local government more accessible to the public. Essays should be no longer than 500 words and must explain the importance of one or more of the civil liberties found in the First Amendment and how Florida’s open government laws protect those liberties. For complete information about the Sunshine Week essay contest, visit http://www.FLGov.com/og_home. The deadline to submit an essay by either e-mail or mail is 5:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010.

Cards of Care for Haiti Project Launched

Volunteer USA Foundation, in partnership with the National Disaster Recovery Fund, invites students throughout Florida to send pictures and cards of love and inspiration to children and families affected by the recent earthquakes in Haiti. Anyone wishing to participate can send cards to Volunteer USA Foundation – Cards of Care for Haiti, 5970 SW 1st Lane, Ocala, FL 34474, and should include their name and contact information. 

Free lesson plans are also available to help teachers use the earthquake and other real-life disasters as examples of how Americans assist with humanitarian and recovery efforts and to provide a platform to discuss the need for all families to develop and practice personal disaster plans. For more information about the project or to learn about disaster preparedness for families and schools, visit http://www.nationaldisasterrecoveryfund.org or http://www.volunteerusafoundation.org.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Home Education and ESE Services FAQ

This notice was just issued by the FLDOE today. The information will be archived at Learning is for Everyone's Homeschooling in Florida pages for future reference:

Dear Home Educators

The Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice has issued a new “Frequently Asked Questions” document relating to Home Education and ESE Services in Florida.  I have attached the document for your convenience.  This helpful FAQ will also be posted on the School Choice Web site at http://www.floridaschoolchoice.org/Information/FAQs.asp and http://www.floridaschoolchoice.org/information/home_education/. 

If you have any questions, let me know!  Thank you all for your hard work out there!

Christopher Fenton
Educational Policy Analyst
Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice
Florida Department of Education
School Choice Hotline: (800)447-1636
Fax: (850)245-9134


Home Education and Exceptional Student Education Services

Frequently Asked Questions
1. What should parents do if they suspect their child has a disability?

The parent should contact the exceptional student education office in the district in which they reside and request that the child be evaluated.

2. What is required of the parent as related to the evaluation process?

The requirements related to evaluation are described in State Board of Education (SBE) Rule 6A-6.0331, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C). Before an evaluation can be conducted, the school district must obtain informed consent in writing from the parent. The parent may be asked to provide information from the child’s portfolio or student records and may also be asked to complete checklists and/or informal observations. Parental consent must be obtained before any information regarding a home education student is shared with the school district.

Once the parent has provided written consent, the formal evaluation will begin. Specific evaluation procedures and eligibility criterion for each disability category are described in the respective SBE rules for that disability. For some disability categories (e.g., emotional/behavioral disabilities; specific learning disabilities), a key component of the evaluation and eligibility determination is analysis of the student’s response to well-delivered, scientific, research-based instruction and interventions. This requires that the parent work with the school district to ensure that this information is available.

3. How long does the school district have to complete the initial evaluation?

The school district must complete the initial evaluation within 60 school days that the student is in attendance after the school district’s receipt of parental consent. For PreK children, initial evaluations must be completed within sixty school days after the school district’s receipt of parental consent for evaluation. (6A-6.0331(3)(d), F.A.C.).

4. After the evaluation is conducted, what happens next?

The parents will be invited to attend a meeting in which the school district staff will review the outcome of their child’s evaluation. Following that review, a determination will be made regarding whether or not the child is considered an eligible child with a disability as defined by Florida State Board of Education Rules.

5. What is the school district’s obligation if the child is eligible for services?

The school district is not obligated to provide services to children in home education programs. If the parent of a child currently enrolled in a home education program chooses to enroll the child full time in a public school, the school district must ensure that a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is made available to the child.

6. Can a district enroll and report a student part-time only for the ESE services that they provide?

Yes. The district may choose to enroll the child on a part-time basis for services provided through the public school and report the student for state funding through the Florida Education Funding Program (FEFP).

7. Whom should a parent contact if they have questions or need additional assistance?

For home education questions, contact your local district home education office which can be found at the following link:

Information pertaining to exceptional education and student services in your local district may be found at the following link:

Information related to parentally placed students in private schools can be found at the following link:

If further information is required, contact the Department of Education:

Laura Harrison – Director of Scholarship Programs, Private Schools and Home Education
Phone: (850) 245-0502

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Effectiveness of Nonviolent Civic Action Essay Contest

High school students in grades nine through 12 are encouraged to submit an entry for the Effectiveness of Nonviolent Civic Action essay contest sponsored by the National Institute of Peace. Essays must be no longer than 1,500 words and consist of three sections which lay out and develop a position in response to the essay contest question. Each student must have a contest coordinator who can review their essay and act as the key contact between the participant and the Institute. One national award totaling $10,000 will be conferred as well as two other national awards worth $2,500 and $5,000 respectively, in addition to 53 state awards each worth $1,000. The deadline for submitting an essay is Feb. 2, 2010. 

For more information, including the essay question, comprehensive guidelines and submission requirements visit www.usip.org/npec. A study guide can also be found at www.usip.org/npec/sg10.pdf (PDF).

Arts for Life! Scholarship

The Foundation for Excellence in Education is accepting applications for the Arts for Life! scholarship from graduating high school seniors for their outstanding achievement in the arts. To be considered for the scholarship, public, private or home education program students must submit a completed application, a brief essay explaining “How the arts have positively influenced my life,” and a sample of their work in creative writing, dance, drama, music or visual arts. Each of the 25 winners will receive a $1,000 cash scholarship toward their pursuit of the arts in higher education, and have an opportunity to showcase their arts discipline through performance and exhibition at a luncheon in their honor. The deadline to submit an application is Feb. 1, 2010.

Contact the Foundation for Excellence in Education at (850) 391-4090 or visit www.ExcelinEd.org for more information.

Donation of gift copies of children's geography ebooks

To educators everywhere:

... I have been able to donate several thousand printed copies of my and my husband’s recently launched children’s geography books (“Friends and Mates in Fifty States” (Galde Press, 2008), “All Across Canada” (Chipmunkapublishing, 2008), and “All Across China” (Chipmunkapublishing, 2009) to public libraries and schools across the U.S. and Canada. At the present time, I can afford to donate ebook versions of “All Across Canada” and “All Across China” to public elementary school teachers and homeschoolers. Below is a description of these books and their availability.

Dear Members,

As part of a nonprofit venture, my husband and I are donating ebook versions of two of three of our children's geography books (“Friends and Mates in Fifty States,” (Galde Press, 2008) “All Across Canada” (Chipmunkapublishing, 2008), and “All Across China” (Chipmunkapublishing, 2009). These books offer a novel approach to learning geography, and can be obtained as free pdf downloads through our authors' website, www.weisberg-yoffe.org.

"All Across Canada" was submitted to Kirkus Discoveries as a representative of our geography series, and it received a favorable review (details about our children's geography books are below my signature). We have donated a number of printed copies of these books to libraries and schools throughout the U.S. and Canada. At the present time (and with the kind support of our publisher), we are able to offer complimentary ebooks to homeschoolers.

"All Across China" and "All Across Canada" can each be downloaded on their respective website display pages for review using the following link to our authors' website:


(Please note: any image outlines seen in the ebooks are intrinsic to the pdf files and do not appear in the printed books themselves. Also, to change orientation of the pdf from sideways to right side up, just go under “view” and “rotate clockwise.”)

Our third book in this series, "Friends and Mates in Fifty States,” features original cartoons and poems about the United States, with each state capital represented by a cartoon character named for the city (such as Denver, a boy who lives in Colorado). The book is designed to help familiarize children from ages 6-11 with U.S. geography in a fun and self-motivating way. It can also serve as a picture book for younger children, and has been known to hold the interest of children as young as three.

"Friends and Mates in Fifty States" has received positive feedback from the U.S. Scholastic Book Clubs. The book has also thus far received considerable interest from libraries, NH-based schools, and Montessori schools. Kenneth J. Relihan (Social Studies & World Languages, New Hampshire Department of Education) has favorably reviewed Friends and Mates in Fifty States, describing it as “unique and original.” We are hoping to eventually have a link for a complimentary pdf version of this book, as well.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about these books at ellenweis1966@yahoo.com.

Take care,

All Across Canada (Kirkus Discoveries review)-
This husband-and- wife collaboration provides a tour of the Canadian provinces and territories.
Wandering Wally, Hiking Holly and Ambling Andy trek across the various regions of Canada, meeting with friends and getting to know their country a little better. Readers will make some discoveries of their own, including that the highest population of elderly Canadians is in Saskatchewan, the world’s largest rodeo is held in Alberta and that New Brunswick is the home of the world’s longest covered bridge. For very brief introductions to the major natural formations and economic industries of Canada’s provinces and territories, this is a good choice for younger readers. The mnemonic device of naming characters after the provincial capitals will help kids memorize them effortlessly. Combine this with the rhyming verses summarizing the important information, and Weisberg and Yoffe (Friends and Mates in Fifty States, 2008) have created quite the learning tool: “On Vancouver Island there’s a lovely coastal breeze. / Victoria dances round and round
the old Red Cedar trees.” The artwork mirrors the text, with maps showing the geography of each province and territory in Canada and their highlighted regions. Unfortunately, the illustrations are rather simplistic—rudimentary cartoons and clip art—with a limited color palette that adds to their lack of spark. The straightforward design and large illustrations, though, will be helpful for visual learners.
Helpful mnemonic devices and a simple presentation make learning about Canada a breeze.
____________ _________ _________ _________ _
Copyright 2005 Kirkus Reviews
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -
Friends and Mates in Fifty States (Amazon review)-
Fun and Informative, September 1, 2008
By Keiko Wu (New Hampshire) -
This is a great book that gives kids a fun way to learn more about the states. The rhymes are inventive and cute. This book fills a real niche. There are so few books on geography for kids, especially ones that actually appeal to kids.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- -

All Across China (Amazon review)-
“All Across China' fills a large void in publishing: namely, geography books for children. The author has wisely chosen a region of growing interest to many. The book gives a thumbnail sketch of all of China's provinces. It strikes a good balance: a map of the location of each province is shown in relation to the rest of the country, but the book is not saturated with highly detailed maps. This is in keeping with the targeted audience. It provides exposure of maps to children without giving in to the temptation to throw too much information at the audience at once. Equally helpful is the accompanying narrative of each province. Animals, topographic features and famous sights are mentioned, in hopes of connecting with various interests of children. The book is almost entirely in English (appropriate for its intended audience). However, I found the inclusion of the province names written in Chinese (in a relatively smaller font size, beneath the much
larger English name) to be a nice addition to the text. Hopefully it will spur the curiosity of some to pursue study of Chinese language as well.”
-Tom Finocchiaro