2018 Speaker Series Schedule

Join us for great topics in the 2018 Speaker Series!

Jan. 16 - The Story of Ospreys Mar. 6 - The Value of Ecotourism
Jan. 23 - Watershed Wonders, CREW and You! Mar. 13 - The Story of Ospreys
Jan. 30 - Living with Burrowing Owls Mar. 20 - Sanibel Communities for Clean Water
Feb. 6 - Marine Mammals of Sanibel Mar. 27 - Wildlife on the Great Calusa Blueway ***
Feb. 14 - The Story of Ospreys Apr. 3 - Living in a Sea of Red: Challenges for Gulf Coast Wildlife
Feb. 20 - The Great Florida Invasion: From Pythons to Pepper Apr. 10 - The Story of Ospreys
Feb. 27 - Amazing Manatees Apr. 17 - Turtles of Pine Island Sound ***
*** - Live Animal Encounters at Presentation

Topics range from local environmental issues to species profiles as well as how to co-exist with our wildlife neighbors. Scroll down for topic descriptions and information on the presenters.


The Story of Ospreys - January 16, February 14, March 13 and April 10

Claudia Burns, International Osprey Foundation Volunteer

Ospreys are large brown and white raptors who breed in southwest Florida from December through April and can be seen diving for live fish in shallow waters throughout the area. Because they build their nests right out in the open, their behavior is easy to observe, but not always easy to understand. This presentation uses photos, videos and recorded vocalizations to explain osprey behavior.

Sanibel resident Claudia Burns has been a Nestwatch Volunteer for the International Osprey Foundation for more than 20 years. In the past she has partnered with Bird Westall to deliver this presentation at both the "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and CROW.


Watershed Wonders, CREW and You! - January 23 

Jessi Drummond, Education Coordinator for CREW Land & Water Trust

Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) is the largest intact watershed in Southwest Florida, spanning 60,000 acres span across southern Lee and northern Collier Counties in southwest Florida. Trails are perfect places to visit year round, so join us for an interactive talk and learn about the benefits of watersheds, topics concerning our freshwater systems and how you can get outdoors to explore CREW. 

Jessi Drummond has been involved with CREW since 2012 as a hiker, volunteer, social media manager, and environmental educator. Jessi’s passion for CREW is evident in every hike led, every lesson taught, every presentation given. Jessi grew up moving around as a military child and came down to Florida to attend Florida Gulf Coast University. She graduated and earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies. After graduation, she was awarded the prestigious Ellen Peterson Award for her work in environmental education.


Living with Burrowing Owls - January 30

Beverly Saltonstall, Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife Volunteer

Cape Coral has the largest population of Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia floridana) in Florida, with an estimated 1000 nesting pairs and an upwards of 2500 burrows within the city limits. While the owls are quite tolerant of humans, their homes are still being threatened. Come out to learn about their habitat and hunting characteristics so you can cohabitate with this remarkable species.

Beverly Saltonstall is a retired nurse who fell in love with Burrowing Owls when she moved to Cape Coral 15 years ago. Shortly after arriving she learned about the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife and has ever since been a volunteer and charter member.


Marine Mammals of Sanibel - February 6

J. Bruce Neill, Ph.D, Co-Founder & Executive Director for Sanibel Sea School

On Sanibel, we are lucky enough to have dolphins and manatees cruising along our shorelines throughout the year. This presentation will dive into the fascinating biology of these creatures – we’ll discuss their intelligence, senses, and behaviors and also touch on some of the lesser-known facts about these charismatic mega fauna. 

Dr. Bruce Neill earned his Ph.D. in conservation biology from Montana State University. He has conducted research on coral reef biology and sea urchins, and has held positions at colleges, field schools, and the American Museum of Natural History. Neill's true passion is teaching - he and his wife, Evelyn, founded Sanibel Sea School in 2005 to help more people connect with the ocean through meaningful, field-based experiences.


The Great Florida Invasion: From Pythons to Pepper - February 20

Charles Sobczak, Author

From the first medieval pigs abandoned in Florida in 1521 through the invasion of lionfish, this power point presentation looks at how these escaped or introduced species have impacted the indigenous flora, fauna and sea life in Florida. Author Charles Sobczak takes a look at everything from the Burmese python to Brazilian pepper, and will discuss possible solutions and warn of other species that could impact Florida in the years to come.

Charles Sobczak lives and writes on Sanibel Island.  His first novel, Six Mornings on Sanibel, was originally published in 1999 and is currently in its seventh printing. In 2007 Sobczak turned his attention to non-fiction and published Alligators, Sharks & Panthers: Deadly Encounters with Florida’s Top Predator-Man.  The book went on to win several awards and continues to sell well in academic circles. In 2010 he published a nature guide titled, Living Sanibel – A Nature Guide to Sanibel & Captiva Islands. The book quickly became the best-selling book on Sanibel and rose to #34 national for nature guide sales on Amazon.com during the winter of 2011.


Amazing Manatees - February 27

Nancy Kilmartin, Ranger for Lee County Parks and Recreation

Learn all about the biological characteristics and habitats of the Florida Manatee. Discover where they live, what they eat, and the challenges they face in the shallow coastal waters of Florida.

Nancy Kilmartin was born and raised in Florida,  and grew up in Lee County.  She received her BA from the University of South Florida, and was previously employed by Tarpon Bay Recreation, Florida Park Service.  Nancy is currently employed by Lee County Parks and Recreation.  She loves living, working and playing in Southwest Florida, and is honored to be one of the guest presenters for CROW's annual Speaker Series.


The Value of Ecotourism - March 6

Nancy MacPhee, Program Manager for the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau

Ecotourism unites conservation, community and sustainable travel while providing direct benefit to the local economy. The Florida Society of Ethical Ecotourism (FL SEE) encourages eco tour providers to adhere to principles that minimize impacts and builds environmental and cultural awareness for guests. This presentation will highlight ecotourism best practices that contribute to the sustainability of natural resources and offer tips for becoming an ethical eco tourist.

A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, MacPhee is a 27-year Lee County employee, with a background in Parks and Recreation management. She currently administers Tourist Development Council funding programs including Beach & Shoreline that provides funding to coastal communities in Lee County for capital improvements and maintenance. The Event & Attraction Marketing programs provide funding which is awarded to approximately 50 nonprofit tourism partners who enhance the experience of visitors to Lee County each year. MacPhee graduated from Slippery Rock State College, and serves on the board of Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism, Florida Superior Small Lodging Association, Friends of Cayo Costa State Park is a UF Florida Master Naturalist, Certified Outdoor Leader and Guest Service Professional.


Sanibel Communities for Clean Water - March 20

Dana Dettmar, Environmental Specialist for the City of Sanibel

The City of Sanibel, in conjunction with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Marine Lab, conducted water quality sampling in lakes and ponds across the Island as part of the Sanibel Communities for Clean Water Program. The program recommends Best Management Practices (BMPs) to improve water quality with the goal that residents and visitors will adopt these voluntary, eco-friendly measures to improve the health of our lakes. 

Dana Dettmar is an Environmental Specialist for the Natural Resources Department at the City of Sanibel.  She received a B.S. degree in Environmental Science at Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia and a Masters’ degree in Environmental Science at Florida Gulf Coast University.  Dana’s masters’ thesis investigated the success of floating treatment wetlands as a way to improve water quality in stormwater ponds.  She began working for the City of Sanibel in December of 2015.  Prior to working for the City, Dana was a research assistant and biology instructor at FGCU, an environmental technician for the Collier County Sea Turtle Protection Program, and a naturalist for the ecotourism company, Adventures in Paradise.  Dana has been a Florida resident 2011, but is originally from the great state of New Jersey.



Wildlife on the Great Calusa Blueway - March 27 ***

Mike Hammond, Coordinator for the Great Calusa Blueway

The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail that meanders through the coastal waters and inland tributaries of Lee County, Florida. It attracts everyone from first-time kayakers to advanced paddlers and is home to abundant marine life, shore birds and crustaceans. This presentation will cover the history of the Blueway, points of Interest for paddlers and wildlife commonly seen along the trail.

Mike is lifelong paddler and an eleven-year Lee County Parks and Recreation staffer who has served as a park ranger, Florida Master Naturalist, ACA instructor, and Special Olympic SUP coach.  Mike believes the SWFL wildlife is one of the greatest assets to the Calusa Blueway, but it is important to know how enjoy it without causing harm to the wildlife or paddlers themselves.


Living in a Sea of Red: Challenges for Gulf Coast Wildlife - April 3

Heather W. Barron, DVM, Dipl. ABVP-avian

Dr. Heather Barron will discuss red tides and the effects on many different species (including humans and pets) and what CROW is doing to try to improve health in the Gulf Coast environment.

Dr. Heather Barron has been CROW's Hospital Director and Head Veterinarian since late fall of 2011. She received training in exotic and wild animal medicine and surgery through a residency at the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she later became a tenured Associate Professor on the Zoological Medicine Service. She obtained further international experience as Professor and Department Head of Clinical Medicine at St. Matthew’s University, School of Veterinary Medicine in the Cayman Islands, where she was also the veterinarian for the Cayman Turtle Farm and Cayman Wildlife Rescue. She has served as a consultant for both IDEXX and Antech Imaging Services and is a former president of the Association of Avian Veterinarians. She is a board certified avian specialist and a licensed wildlife and sea turtle rehabilitator who has over 20 years of experience in practicing and teaching wildlife medicine. She has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific publications in her field.


Turtles of Pine Island Sound - April 17 ***

Chris Lechowicz, Director of Habitat Management & Herpetologist for Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation

Sanibel is home to 16 species of turtles, some of them are marine; other are freshwater or terrestrial. By emigration from the mainland or released pets, this rich biodiversity of turtles is a unique circumstance in Florida. The high diversity of turtles on Sanibel is mostly due to the Sanibel River or "Sanibel slough" that holds water throughout the year. This lecture will focus on the identification and natural history of these species on the island.

Chris Lechowicz grew up with a passion for amphibians and reptiles which led him into a career in biology. Chris is the Director of the Wildlife & Habitat Management Program and staff herpetologist at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation where he has worked for the last 14 years.   His current research projects on the islands involve eastern indigo snakes (Drymarchon couperi), diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin), and Florida box turtles (Terrapene carolina bauri) in Pine Island Sound. Chris is also the coauthor of the book Amphibians and Reptiles of Sanibel & Captiva Islands: A Natural History.