Conservancy of Southwest Florida to host Nature Cat Day May 7

Conservancy Logo

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has partnered with WGCU to host Nature Cat Day, featuring PBS Kids television character, Nature Cat, on Saturday, May 7, at the Conservancy Nature Center.

Children are invited to leave their inner house cats behind and explore the natural world as the Conservancy of Southwest Florida presents a special day of activities and character appearances by PBS Kids newest television show, Nature Cat. Throughout the day, visitors will have the opportunity to learn and experience nature as they encounter animals and enjoy interactive children’s activities that are based on the popular PBS Kids show.

“Our goal at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida is to help our community connect with nature, enjoy exploring its many features and grow to love protecting the world we live in,” said Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “Nature Cat Day offers our youngest members of the community the opportunity to have a blast learning with one of their favorite television characters, and we look forward to a day of fun and discovery.”

For more information on activities and experiences available at the Conservancy Nature Center, visit www.Conservancy.org/Nature-Center.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 50 year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida says farewell to resident loggerhead sea turtle, Betsy

Photo 8_1The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has said a final farewell to Betsy, the organization’s beloved female loggerhead, releasing the sea turtle near the Ten Thousand Islands on March 29. Betsy has served as an ambassador for the loggerhead species within the Dalton Discovery Center for two years, providing visitors a unique opportunity to learn about native sea turtle conservation.

Following Betsy’s release, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will welcome a new juvenile loggerhead to its facilities on March 30. Conservancy of Southwest Florida visitors can help name the new loggerhead by submitting their ideas in person at the Conservancy Nature Center from March 30 through April 10. A committee of staff, interns and volunteers will review the submissions and select a name, which will be announced during the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Earth Day Festival on April 16.

Betsy hatched on July 31, 2013; her nest was originally found in Boca Raton, Florida. She was part of a gender study with Florida Atlantic University where which linked nest temperature to the gender of hatchlings. Her gender was determined while she was still in her egg, and was monitored in her egg before hatching. She was transferred tPhoto 6_2o the Conservancy of Southwest Florida until she was large enough to be released into the wild.

Betsy came to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in March 2014, weighing 1.07 pounds (486 grams) and measuring 14.1 centimeters in length. To be eligible for release into the wild, captive loggerhead sea turtles must have a carapace length of at least 45 centimeters. Recent measurements confirmed Betsy’s carapace length to be 45 centimeters, and she weighed 29.5 pounds. Conservancy biologists placed a flipper tag and a PIT tag on Betsy prior to her release. With these devices in place, biologists will be able to determine her origin and release location, should Betsy be found following release.

Betsy the loggerhead was named after the late Betsy Sandstrom, a long-time sea turtle advocate and volunteer for the Bonita Springs/Fort Myers Beach organization Turtle Time. Betsy passed away from cancer two years ago. Following the sea turtle’s arrival in 2014, the Conservancy launched a social media cont est to help give the loggerhead a name. Upon learning of the contest, one of Sandstrom’s friends suggested naming the turtle inPhoto 4_3 her honor. Before she passed away in 2014, Sandstrom had the opportunity to meet her namesake during an emotional introduction, surrounded by friends and family. Members of Sandstrom’s family returned to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida for Betsy’s release to say a final farewell to the sea turtle.

“We are experiencing many emotions with Betsy’s release because this sea turtle’s story is one of great legacy. Named after such an inspiring individual, Betsy has gone on to accomplish great things at the Conservancy, helping us share her story and spread awareness about the loggerhead species,” said Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “While sad to see her leave us, we are ecstatic to release her into the wild where she will continue to flourish. It has been a joy to watch Betsy progress over the past two years, and we look forward to welcoming a new baby loggerhead to our facilities.”

Loggerheads have a very low survival rate in the wild.  Only 1 in 1,000 sea turtles survives to adulthood. True to its mission of protecting Southwest Florida’s water, land and wildlife, the Conservancy began the Florida Sea Turtle Monitoring and Protection Program in 1982 on Keewaydin Island. Now, in its 34th year, the program has saved more than 265,000 loggerheads. For more information, visit www.conservancy.org/our-work/science/wildlife/loggerheads.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

The Conservancy of SouthwePhoto 2_2st Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 50 year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Fla., 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida to expand Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital

LynnSlabaugh, Sharon and Dolph von Arx

Dolph and Sharon von Arx announce $500,000 grant match

Conservancy of Southwest Florida is expanding the existing wildlife hospital to accommodate the new outdoor wildlife rehabilitation area. The expansion of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital will enable the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to care for a greater number of animals within the wildlife rehabilitation facility by building new wildlife recovery areas, enhancing outside structures and continuing to provide exceptional care for the animals.

“As our organization embarks on the next half-century, the need for replacing and expanding our outdoor wildlife rehabilitationand recovery spaces is urgent,” said Lynn Slabaugh, board chair, Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “For many of our von Arx Wildlife Hospital patients, the majority of their recovery time takes place outside – in a more natural setting. Our current outdoor wildlife recovery areas are outdated and do not serve the growing number and variety of patients we see.”

During the expansion celebration today at the Conservancy Nature Center, Dolph and Sharon von Arx announced the Conservancy’s receipt of a $500,000 state grant to help fund the project and they pledged a matching gift.

“The increase in growth and development in our region right now is negatively impacting Southwest Florida’s wildlife habitat,” said Dolph von Arx, conservancy supporter. “Sharon and I are committed to supporting the outdoor facilities to enable the Conservancy to further its mission of providing quality care to injured and orphaned wildlife.”

“The new hospital wing will make a vast difference in what we do within our facility because we will be able to care for a greater number of injured animals,” said Dr. P.J. Deitschel, veterinarian for Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “These improvements will help us continue our goal of rehabilitating animals and returning them to the wild.”

The expansion will also feature a new educational complex that will allow visitors to view the Conservancy’s permanent resident animals. Visitors will learn about the threats to native wildlife and what the public can do to protect and prevent wildlife injuries.

“In the new guest education area, visitors will come face-to-face with some of our ‘ambassador’ animals,” said Conservancy President and CEO Rob Moher. “These former patients are unable to be released due to the extent of their injuries. We are taking great care to create areas which replicate their natural environment as much as possible.”

Expansion features include:

  • A new and enlarged shorebird recovery area
  • Two large outdoor rehabilitation structures to accommodate the increasing number of patients, including the ability to care for otters through the entire rehabilitation project
  • 10 small mammal recovery areas
  • Four permanent public viewing areas for Florida birds of prey, shorebirds, and other “animal ambassadors”
  • Design and installation of public educational materials
  • Improvements to infrastructure including water, power and caregiver access
  • Additional maintenance and storage facilities

Funding

Estimated construction cost $2 million

  • $1.6 million raised to date
  • $1.1 million from generous donor support
  • $500,000 from a state grant
  • 80 percent of goal to date

Initial expansion plans are underway. Construction is set to begin this summer with an expected completion date in early 2016.

Commitment to Sustainable Building Practices

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital was the first building in Collier County, and the first wildlife hospital in the State to achieve LEED Platinum Certification for its environmentally conscious design and construction. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida seeks sponsors for the new wing of the wildlife hospital. Donors have the opportunity to sponsor rehabilitation areas as well as a variety of other facilities within the wildlife hospital. For more information regarding expansion efforts and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.conservancy.org/wildlife/expansion or contact Paul Seifert at 239-403-4205 or PaulS@conservancy.org.

About the Conservancy

Conservancy of Southwest Florida began more than 50 years ago when community leaders came together to defeat a proposed “Road to Nowhere” and spearheaded the acquisition and protection of Rookery Bay. The Conservancy is a not-for-profit grassroots organization focused on the critical environmental issues of the Southwest Florida region, including Glades, Hendry, Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, with a mission to protect the region’s water, land and wildlife. Conservancy of Southwest Florida and its Nature Center are located in Naples, Florida at 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. For information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, call 239-262-0304 or visit www.conservancy.org.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center to temporarily close for major renovations

Posted July 6th, 2010 by Priority Marketing and filed in News

Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center will be closed to the public Aug. 1 – Oct. 3 due to major renovations for the $17 million Sustainable Campus initiative. Normal operating hours will resume at 9 a.m. on Oct. 4.  Please note that the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic is not affected by this closure and will be open as usual, seven days a week from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.  Business and Administrative offices are also open for business as usual.

“We are making some exciting progress on the new “green” Nature Center,” said Andrew McElwaine, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.  “Once completed, sometime in 2012, guests will be able to enjoy one of the most complete experiences of the Southwest Florida environment and leave with the understanding of why it is so important to protect our water, land and wildlife.”

The renovation, part of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida “Saving Southwest Florida” Capital Campaign, is designed to transform the 21-acre Conservancy Nature Center into a model for sustainable design and environmental responsibility. Its many features will include a new two new buildings:  the Sugden Gomez Environmental Planning Center and von Arx Wildlife Clinic.  Three other buildings we undergo extensive renovations:  Dalton Discovery Center, Eaton Conservation Hall featuring the Jeannie Meg Smith Theater, and the Ferguson Interactive Learning Lab.  Other sustainable features include several new filter marshes designed to enhance Gordon River and Naples Bay water quality. Plans for the new Nature Center can be found at www.conservancy.org/campaign. Construction is expected to be complete in early 2012.

For those interested in being a part of the “Saving Southwest Florida” Campaign, numerous naming opportunities at different levels are still available. For more information on naming opportunities, contact Rob Moher, vice-president of development and marketing for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida at 239-403-4205.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Sustainable Campus Initiative:
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has begun a new sustainable campus initiative launched in April 2009 as part of its Saving Southwest Florida Capital Campaign. The 21-acre Conservancy Nature Center is being transformed into a model for sustainable design and environmental responsibility, with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards for both buildings and the Nature Center. Once completed, the new Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center will include two new buildings and three major rehabilitation project.

  • A new Wildlife Clinic with more space, improved treatment areas and modern equipment
  • Totally remodeled Discovery Center with new and exciting environmental exhibits
  • A new Environmental Planning Center with updated research laboratories
  • Conservation Hall and theater will be created from the existing auditorium space and will be used for increased environmental education programming, meetings and events
  • Interactive Learning Lab for hands-on learning about environmental topics and sustainability
  • Two constructed wetlands areas serving as natural filter marshes to cleanse storm water before being released into the Gordon River and Naples Bay
  • New trails, gardens and walkways with native landscaping
  • New environmental education and programming

The project also includes a new entrance to the Conservancy Nature Center, Smith Preserve Way, from Goodlette-Frank Road that will bring the vision of a “Naples Central Park” closer to reality. The new entrance will potentially provide access to the Gordon River Greenway Park and the Naples Zoo.

Green building practices, sustainability features and best management practices are being incorporated into all aspects of the construction and building designs. Key features include:

  • All new buildings will be built to rigorous LEED standards.
  • LEED standards will be applied across the overall for Nature Center.
  • Water conservation will be emphasized and best management practices for stormwater management applied. Storm water will be captured for re-use or filtered before naturally flowing into the Gordon River.
  • Energy efficiency will be incorporated at every opportunity with a multi-year goal to achieve “net zero” energy cost.

The project is being funded through the ongoing multi-million dollar capital campaign. Campus construction will be phased over several years to minimize the impact on Conservancy guests and staff. Completion is expected sometime in the first quarter of 2012.

The construction project team members bring a variety of backgrounds and specialization in sustainable design, advanced building construction and applied technology to the project. All contractors working on the project have achieved or are pursuing personal LEED accreditation. The construction partners all have adapted their own business philosophies and practices to meet the demands of the project. They also have committed to using their experience with sustainability practices on the Conservancy campus to extend that concept into future projects for other Southwest Florida clients. Team members include:

  • Curtis Cafiso, Conservancy of Southwest Florida (Project Executive)
  • Keith Predmore, Keith Predmore & Associates (Owner’s Representative)
  • Casey Neurock, Neugreen LLC (LEED Consultant)
  • Fernando Zabala and Brian Leaders, Larry Warner Architects (Master Planning and Building Design) and the late Larry Warner
  • Alex Lopez, JALRW Engineering Group (MEP Engineers)
  • Derry Berrigan, DBLD Sustainable Lighting Design (LED Lighting)
  • Peter Kuttner, Cambridge 7 Associates (Discovery Center Exhibit Design and Campus Interpretive Design)
  • Walter Crawford, Heatherwood Construction (Construction Managers)
  • Frank Feeney, Hole Montes (Civil Engineer)

High resolution images of the new Nature Center and building renderings are available to the media by contacting Barbara Wilson, Conservancy director of marketing and communications: barbaraw@conservancy.org; or 239-403-4216.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida began in 1964 when community leaders came together to defeat a proposed “Road to Nowhere” and spearheaded the acquisition and protection of Rookery Bay.

The Conservancy is a grassroots organization focused on the critical environmental issues of the Southwest Florida region. Partnering with like-minded organizations, the Conservancy works to manage growth and protect area waters, land and wildlife. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida promotes sound environmental policies and practices based on solid scientific research while providing environmental education to residents and visitors. The Wildlife Clinic treats more than 2,400 injured, sick and orphaned animals each year and releases about half back into their native habitats.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida and Conservancy Nature Center are located in Naples, Florida at 1450 Merrihue Drive, off Goodlette-Frank Road at 14th Avenue North. For information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, call 239-262-0304 or visit http://www.conservancy.org/.