After our long year in shutdown, most folks are itching to get away – even if it’s close to home. What better way to shed some stress than to get out into nature? You don’t have to go far to find gems like Brooker Creek Preserve in North Pinellas, and Weedon Island and Boyd Hill even closer for residents of South Pinellas.
But before you head out, you might want to brush up on what’s out there. Natural Florida may have a few surprises for you, especially if you’re one of the state’s many new residents. Now, there’s a podcast to answer those pesky questions, like, “Is there an alligator in that lake?” (The answer is always “yes.”)
“Naturally Florida” is all about the Sunshine State’s natural wonders, with two enthusiastic hosts eager to tell us about it: Lara Milligan and Shannon Carnevale, natural resources agents for UF/IFAS Extension in Polk and Pinellas counties, respectively.
“Our goal is to keep it fun, understandable, and get people excited about getting out in nature,” said Milligan, from her Brooker Creek Preserve office in North Pinellas County.
Milligan and Carnavale are both avid educators and they’ve had this podcast in the works for a couple of years. They recently launched it, and now have three informative offerings available, each at an easy, listenable 15 to 20 minutes – perfect for boning up on what you’re off to see.
“We’re doing one a month,” said Milligan. “Right now we just want to get the word out that we’re available on most platforms like Apple and Spotify.”
The third episode, titled, “What? We Have Fireflies in Florida?” is a fascinating exploration of the life of these remarkable insects and where we can see them in Florida.
Carnavale explains the life cycle, and why we seldom see them around Pinellas. There’s too much light, she says, advising listeners to query the local astronomy club – “they know where it’s really dark“ – and that’s where there may be fireflies.
There’s even information on starting a firefly colony in your own yard, though you should prepare for a lengthy process of three to four years in the grub stage before transformation into a magical firefly.
“Naturally Florida” is a fun listen. Milligan and Carnavale know their stuff, and teach us about aspects of Florida the tourist brochures don’t cover. Episode 1, “Lara’s Favorite Species – Green Anoles,” (pronounced “uh-noles”) explains Florida’s native green anoles, and their ubiquitous, nonnative look-alike, the brown anole, a migrant from Cuba; Episode 2, “Where Does Water Go After It Falls?” covers the journey of rainwater after it hits the ground.
Upcoming topics include exploring Florida’s wildlife species and ecosystems, and issues addressing our natural resources. Each episode offers ways listeners can help make a positive impact on Florida’s environment. Milligan and Carnavale want to answer your questions – so email them!
Search for “Naturally Florida” at sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu or wherever you get your podcasts.
Support for Florida’s Native Plants
While you’re thinking of Florida’s natural assets, what about native plants? You can now show your support for our noble palmettos and other natives with a new license plate from the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS)
“The legislature approved a bill,” said Valerie Anderson, communications director for the FNPS, “Now the state’s 33 chapters are ready to help and encourage interest in native Florida plants.”
The plate, designed by Florida artist Peter Argardy, features a variety of native plants in camouflage colors, with the palmetto front and center.
The new fundraising effort needs prepaid vouchers to produce the license plate, available at any county tax collector’s office, through the FNPS or online. The cost of the voucher is $33, and the state will print the plate when 3,000 vouchers are sold.
“I’m excited for the FNPS to get wider exposure with this new license plate,” said Anderson.
Learn more about the Florida Native Plant Society at fnps.org.