2019 Speaker Series Schedule

Join us for the 2019 Speaker Series! 

Click here to check out the brochure or scroll down for more information!

Mar. 11 - Florida Box Turtle Habitat Preference & Home Range on Sanibel Island Mar. 19 - The Story of Ospreys
Mar. 25 - Mollusks of Southwest Florida Apr. 1 - Paradise Lost: Impacts of Red Tide on Sanibel
Apr. 9 - Gopher Tortoises: Protecting a Keystone Species Apr. 16 - The Story of Ospreys

*These programs will feature Live Animal Encounters

Speaker Series Admission:
$10 per adult
$5 per 13-17 year old (teen)
Free for children 12 and under
All Programs begin at 4:15pm,
Check-in begins at 3:30pm
To register, please contact:
Visitor Education Center
phone: (239) 472-3644, ext. #229

Program Descriptions


March 19 & April 16

The Story of Ospreys

Presented by Claudia Burns, Volunteer for International Osprey Foundation

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. 


March 25

Mollusks of Southwest Florida

Presented by Leigh Gay, Education Coordinator for the Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum

The National Shell Museum is the leading authority on Sanibel and Captiva shells, and its team offers insights into many of the shells that have played vital roles in history, culture, art and design. During this talk learn about the feeding strategies, reproduction, growth, and ecological importance of Southwest Florida’s mollusk species.

Leigh has a Bachelor's Degree in Zoology from NC State University, and is passionate about teaching Florida's people (of all ages!) about the mollusks that create sea shells, and how they are important to Florida's ecosystems. She loves birding, snorkeling, and of course... shelling! 


April 1 

Paradise Lost: Impacts of Red Tide on Sanibel

Presented by Heather W. Barron, DVM, Dipl. ABVP-avian, Medical and Research Director for CROW

In 2018, a severe red tide stretched along Florida’s west coast killing millions of animals and making hundreds more ill from brevetoxicosis. Join us at CROW for a discussion of these events, how the hospital staff managed these cases, and what CROW is doing to further research to be able to better help animals affected by red tide.

Dr. Heather Barron 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.


April 9

Gopher Tortoises: Protecting a Keystone Species

Presented by Joel Caouette, Conservation Officer for the City of Sanibel

This presentation will cover gopher tortoise biology, habitat requirements, the City of Sanibel’s efforts to preserved and maintain viable gopher tortoise habitat, monitoring efforts, and the recently acquired gopher tortoise receptor site at Bowman’s Beach.

Joel Caouette graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation Biology from the University of Rhode Island in 2008.  After successfully completing several internships and seasonal positions in the wildlife field, Joel found his way to Sanibel Island in 2009 and again in 2010 assisting Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) staff in research and monitoring of Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus). At the completion of the 2010 Snowy Plover nesting season, Joel was hired as a full-time biologist at SCCF where his duties included surveys and monitoring of Sanibel Island’s wildlife such as Snowy Plovers, Bald Eagles, gopher tortoises, the Sanibel rice rat, and native fishes, in addition to vegetation surveys and assisting in land management duties like prescribed burns. In 2016 Joel began working for the City of Sanibel as a conservation officer where his day to day tasks include, environmental permitting, land management, and dealing with various other coastal and wildlife issues.