Make us your home page

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.


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.


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 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

  1. Orioles Buck Showalter's Trop takedown includes bullpen mounds, bathroom options, bladder probelms


    Orioles manager Buck Showalter has never been a fan of the Trop, and after Monday's 5-0 win he - with some prodding from O's TV man Gary Thorne - took a few more shots during their MASN interview, specifically about the location of the bullpen mounds, and the lack of bathroom facilities.

  2. What a perfect USF football season would and wouldn't mean


    TAMPA — USF held its first fall practice Monday. A mere technicality. It's mind-bending how many people think that USF, sure to be ranked in the preseason Top 25, is going to throw down a 12-0 regular season with the schedule placed before it. This from a team that has never won a conference championship in its …

    The hiring of Charlie Strong, shown here, cente,r with USF president Judy Genshaft and athletic director Mark Harlan during his introductory press conference non Dec. 15, 2016, is one of several reasons for the Bulls' high football expectations this season.  [ JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
  3. HomeTeam 100: Players 31-40


    Wesley Chapel High School running back Dexter Leverett (6) runs the ball past Hudson High School offensive linebacker Cody Sutphin (8) during the second half at Wesley Chapel High School in Wesley Chapel, Fla., on Oct. 8, 2016. Wesley Chapel won the game 39 to 34
  4. 'I called for help, not for them to kill him.' Dead man's mother says Pasco deputies mishandled shooting


    CRYSTAL SPRINGS — The mother of a man shot to death by deputies believes authorities were too quick to fire their weapons and used unnecessary force in dealing with her son.

    Steve Steele, 47, was shot by Pasco deputies on Thursday, July 13 [Photo Courtesy of Trish Manson]
  5. New Florida drivers licenses, ID cards coming in August

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE – A new look is coming to Florida licenses and ID cards.

    Starting in August, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will begin to issue the new Florida driver license and ID card. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]