Meet Our Bioblitz Experts 🌱 Spoiler Alert: They're Awesome!
This Saturday, October 12, from 8-1pm! Fun in Florida! Join us for our annual bioblitz for the opportunity to hike with experts, experience wild Florida, and learn about our conservation work.
The early bird gets the *walk*
Join our experts, Robert Emond and Gigi DelPizzo, from 8:30 to 9:30 for an exciting bird walk! On this walk, you will learn about some of Florida’s most interesting birds located in the heart of Rock Springs Run State Reserve. You might even encounter Florida’s only endemic bird, the Florida Scrub-Jay!
Robert Emond retired from the Air Force in 2013 and turned to birding for his next major challenge. Robert volunteers with the Lake City and the Cumberland Island Christmas Bird Counts, and just recently volunteered with the 2019 Florida Scrub-Jay Watch. He also helps the North American Butterfly Association Hairstreak Chapter with their Butterfly Counts in Tallahassee and Big Bend. Robert and his friends set a monthly goal of spotting and identifying 100 birds. He has submitted over 1,100 eBirdchecklists, with a life list of 377 birds across Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas. In September 2019, Birdwatching Magazine published two of Robert’s photos featuring a Loggerhead Shrike and a rare Red-legged Thrush. Robert considers himself an amateur nature photographer, field naturalist, and birder.
Gigi DelPizzo is a Freshwater Fisheries Biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. An avid birder since 2012, she participates in research on Florida Scrub-Jay, North America Breeding Bird Survey, Bluebird Nesting Box surveys, June Challenges, Eagle Watch, Quarterly Bird and Butterfly Surveys in Lake County, numerous Christmas Bird Counts, Hawk Watch Counts, and occasionally helps at the Lake Lotus Bird Banding Station. She enjoys extensive traveling and birding around the United States and abroad.
Toad-ally terrific herp walk
Explore Rock Springs Run State Reserve from 9:30-10:30, and you might get to see gopher tortoises, Eastern Indigo snakes, or a variety of frogs/toads. Keep an eye out for gopher tortoise burrows, which can provide habitat for over 350 other species!
Dr. Marc Behrendt’s first love is herpetology, which inspired him to move to central Florida in 2017 to become involved with the region’s reptiles and amphibians. Marc is a certified naturalist, a birder, an expert fisherman, and an avid nature photographer. Marc grew up and lived in Ohio, starting off as a medical laboratory scientist before earning his PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. He then began teaching anatomy and physiology at Ohio University, and briefly, teaching entomology at Wilmington College. Never able to acquire his dream job of working with wildlife, Marc was a long-time active volunteer with the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW). It was there he began performing frog and wetland breeding bird population surveys, assisting with electroshock fish surveys, teaching in the education programs, and representing the DOW at the Ohio State Fair natural resources area. Presently, Marc is teaching anatomy at Celebration High School. He is a volunteer biologist with Archbold Biological Station, assisting with gopher tortoise research. Marc recently became a volunteer with the Everglades National Park Invasive Species Python Removal program. During his free time, Marc enjoys spending time outdoors, experiencing and learning Florida’s wild side.
Unbe-leaf-able plant walk
Join our plant expert, Allegra Buyer, from 10:30 to 11:30 on Saturday for a wild plant walk! Venture through Rock Springs Run State Reserve to observe and learn about some of Florida’s most important plant species. Witness the towering sand pine scrub and pine flatwoods that central Florida’s iconic species call home.
Allegra Buyer is a biologist for the Florida Park Service. After graduating from New College of Florida with a degree in biology, she started her career working with invasive plants at Ravine Gardens State Park. From there she worked seasonal jobs in Alaska and Texas, and then came back to Florida for her current position as a biologist in Apopka. She assists with invasive plant removal at 33 parks and trails, and also works on restoration, prescribed fire and listed species management. She recently finished her MS in Ecological Restoration through UF, and loves continuing to learn about and conserving the unique ecology of Florida.
A *pine* and dandy conservation walk!
Take a walk on the wild side from 11:30-12:30! On this walk, you will learn about Florida’s incredible biodiversity. Experience the habitat that is home to some of Florida’s most loved species, like the Florida black bear!
Jess Rodriguez has worked as a biologist with Florida’s native wildlife and their associated habitats since receiving her Master of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Georgia in 2006. Her experience includes, imperiled species conservation and management, habitat management and restoration, human-wildlife conflict management, international wildlife issues, and public outreach and education. Jess started her employment with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in December 2012. Prior to that, she worked as an endangered species biologist on a military installation, managed a small research center in South Africa focusing on ecological studies, and participated on Red-cockaded woodpecker projects throughout the southeast. In her current role as Conservation Biologist for the Northeast region she focuses on imperiled and other locally important species conservation on the FWC Wildlife Management Area system. Whether in the field for work or recreation, Jess is inspired by the diversity of natural communities and the wildlife species that occupy these communities found in wild Florida.
WHAT'S A BIOBLITZ?
Participants come together to find, count, and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as they can spot!
WHERE IS THIS EVENT TAKING PLACE?
Our bioblitz will be hosted at Rock Springs Run State Reserve in Central Florida.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
Everyone! We will have activities throughout the day that are designed to be fun and informative for families, community groups, and people of all ages and abilities. A smartphone is required to participate in the species cataloging activities but not needed to enjoy learning about and experiencing natural Florida.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The event is free, but park entry fees may apply. If you would like to make a donation to Conservation Florida to help support our exciting work to protect natural lands in Florida, we'd love the partnership!
HOW SHOULD I PREPARE?
Plan as you would for any daylong adventure in the great outdoors. Some of the activities are guided hikes that require a considerable amount of walking on trails that might be difficult to navigate. Some activities occur near the water. You may encounter a variety of wildlife, including: snakes, mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, tortoises, birds, and butterflies. You should wear comfortable walking shoes and bring sunscreen, bug spray, protective clothing, and water. You will also want to check the weather and download a map to your location ahead of time in case cell service is not available along your route.
HOW DO I RECORD WHAT I SEE?
If you haven't already done so, please download the iNaturalist app to your smartphone. This app allows you to record your observations directly to Conserve Florida's bioblitz project. Please visit the iNaturalist tutorials for more information and join our iNaturalist project here. Select the location where you plan to participate and record your findings on the day of the event! You can also share your experience on social media using #flbioblitz.
WHAT IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
We're here for you. Reach out to us at email@example.com. We will also call you and email you periodically as the event date approaches.