Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Weedon Island Preserve nature walk reveals its beauty

A juvenile heron perches among the mangroves at Weedon Island Preserve. The Pinellas County preserve is home to a variety of species and includes some 3,164 acres. Saturday’s two-hour walk will begin at the education center.

LARA CERRI | Times

A juvenile heron perches among the mangroves at Weedon Island Preserve. The Pinellas County preserve is home to a variety of species and includes some 3,164 acres. Saturday’s two-hour walk will begin at the education center.

ST. PETERSBURG

Is it a nature trail or a theater? Are those mangroves really thespians, performing in quiet splendor?

Listen carefully, Anne Schmidt tells those who trudge through the natural coastal terrain with her at Weedon Island Preserve.

See this plant? Now amble over here. See this one? Look much the same, don't they? Both are wild Florida blueberries.

She produces a magnifier. She points out the tiny gold dewdrops behind the little green leaves of vaccinium myrsinites (evergreen blueberries).

It happens suddenly. "They see the magic," said Schmidt, 57, a conservation botanist who volunteers her time to do nature walks at the preserve.

Among the first times she saw the magic, Schmidt was 2 years old, and her father was pointing out a bug on a rock at Martha's Vineyard, an island off Massachusetts, where she grew up. Yet her first occupational love was theater and dance. She worked on stages for many years as a nonunion actor. Late nights under artificial lights were followed by sunrise in the woods.

One year, she visited Sarasota for a Florida Native Plant Society conference. She saw the magic again. She decided to change careers.

At the University of South Florida, where she got her master's degree in conservation biology, she'd write out theatrical skits based on the relationship of atoms.

A few years ago she was hired by Pinellas County as a botanist in the environmental lands division. One of her last projects was a floristic inventory of Weedon Island — she documented every plant before her job was recently eliminated by budget cuts. She now works for a private engineering firm.

Schmidt is happy to come back to her old workplace. She really likes telling the stories behind that long list of plants. Take the myriad ways that mangroves adapt around saltwater.

"Because plants can't walk, they've evolved these amazing capabilities to survive," she says.

Schmidt will raise the curtain again Saturday during a two-hour walk that begins at the education center, winds through mangroves and gopher tortoise habitat, and ends in the history ecological trail.

Reach Luis Perez at lperez@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2271.

if you go

Native Plant and
Coastal Habitat Walk

Where: Weedon Island Preserve, Education Center, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg

When: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday

Cost: free

Advance registration required. Call (727) 453-6500.

Weedon Island Preserve nature walk reveals its beauty 05/29/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 1:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-named prospects heading out.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  2. Nine Florida football players, 62 felony complaints in fraud scandal

    College

    GAINESVILLE — The fraud scandal that has engulfed the University of Florida's nationally ranked football team for weeks exploded Monday with the first detailed accounts of criminal accusations that threaten to derail the Gators' season.

    Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) runs the ball during the Outback Bowl in January at Raymond James Stadium. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  3. Where Rays shortstop Matt Duffy's lost season leads

    The Heater

    BRADENTON — In a perfect world Matt Duffy would have been in New York on Monday with his Rays teammates enjoying the final off day of the year. Instead, he was on Field 4 at Pirate City on a sweltering afternoon, trying to restart his season.

    Rays shortstop Matt Duffy plays in his first game (since rehab was aborted) with the club's instructional league on Monday at the Pirate City baseball field and spring training complex in Bradenton [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  4. Vinny Lecavalier's jersey retirement will be another classic Vinny moment

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — He was the face of the franchise. He was taken first overall in the 1998 NHL Draft by a franchise at the bottom. Art Williams, the nutty Tampa Bay Lightning owner at the time, proclaimed the 18-year-old from Ile Bizard, a Montreal borough, "the Michael Jordan of hockey."

    Vincent Lecavalier makes a break for the net while playing an exhibition game on Sunday (9/24/17) with the 2017 U.S. Women???‚??„?s National Team at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Lecavalier was the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2000???‚??€œ2001 season and between the 2008???‚??€œ2013 and spent his first 14 NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers.
  5. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]