Field Trips

May Field Trip

May Field Trip:  A Special Invitation to Hike Janet Butterfield Brooks Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA) 

Hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

Date and Time: Saturday, May 13, 9:00 a.m.

Meeting Location: We will meet at the south entrance of the WEA (comprised of a vehicle sized gate) along Bailey Hill Road. There is no address for this entrance, use the address for the residence directly across from the entrance for navigation purposes.  15478 Bailey Hill Rd, Brooksville, FL 34614 which is 0.3 miles west of Citrus Way.  Park along the North side of Bailey Hill Road as far off the road as you can manage.

Wear good walking, closed toed shoes, and sunscreen. Bring a hat, water, bug repellant and a snack.There are no restrooms at Janet Butterfield, so please plan accordingly. 

Note: For those that are interested we can have lunch at a spot in Brooksville on our way home.

We are very fortunate that the Hernando Chapter NPS has invited us to join them in a rare opportunity to explore the The Janet Butterfield Brooks WEA in May.  This property is restricted to FWC staff for management and research purposes in accordance with the restrictions in the deed of donation. While the deed of donation restricts land use and general public access is not allowed, the property can be used for educational purposes under FWC supervision. Inviting groups like FNPS to go on hikes is one way FWC can expand use and enjoyment of the area while respecting the terms of the deed.

The hike will be led by FWC staff from Chinsegut’s Conservation Center. The hike will be moderate in duration and difficulty, and our focus will be the mosaic of upland species that call the preserve home, as well as the land management strategies that support them. Janet Butterfield has been burned in some areas this winter and should be putting on fresh new growth this spring. The hike is just under 2 miles along sandy and somewhat uneven terrain.  The Nature Conservancy managed the preserve starting in 1974 and transferred it to FWC in 2005. 

Janet Butterfield Brooks WEA encompasses approximately 319 acres in Hernando County and has some of the area’s last tracts of older growth longleaf pine sandhill forests and hardwood hammocks. The vast mix of mesic hammock, upland hardwood forest and bottomland forest found here provides important wildlife habitat for key sandhill species including gopher tortoises,  southeastern American kestrels and many sandhill dwelling plants beneath the towering longleaf pines. The WEA is part of the southernmost extent of the unique Annutteliga Hammock which hold clay laden soils, karst topography and limestone at or near the soil surface. It also includes both southern and northern limits of many plant species.

Directions:  From Heritage Park, Land O’ Lakes, Head north on Land O' Lakes Blvd/US Hwy 41 N for 23.4 miles to Cortez Blvd. Turn left on Cortez for 1.5 miles then go straight past the Hardee’s and onto Cobb Rd. Travel 1.8 miles and turn left onto Fort Dade Ave and then in 2.9 miles right on to Citrus Way. Turn left onto Bailey Hill Road and travel .3 miles to the site. Park along the North side of Bailey Hill Road as far off the road as you can manage. We will meet near the gate.

Questions?  Email Becky Clayton at  or text  or call 813-416-5672. 

Past Field Trips

April Field Trip

April Field Trip:  Native Plant Hike in Croom

Date and Time: Saturday, April 15, 9:00 a.m.

Location: 26578 Croom Road (Forest Road 6), Brooksville, FL 34601

 Tucker Hill Day Use Area,  Croom Tract, Withlacoochee State Forest

 Wear: good walking, closed toed shoes, and sunscreen.  

Bring a hat, water, bug repellant  and a snack.

There are restrooms and picnic table on site.  You can bring a lunch to eat on the or we can have lunch at a spot in Brooksville on our way home.

Field Trip Leader: Colleen Werner, Biologist, Withlacoochee State Forest

The Withlacoochee State Forest (WSF) encompasses 164,073 acres in Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Pasco, Sumter counties and is the third largest state forest in Florida. The WSF is divided into several distinct tracts of land including the Croom Tract, which is located in Hernando and Sumter counties, with over 20,000 acres.   WSF protects one of the largest patches of sandhill habitat remaining in Florida. There is also a historic cemetery at the Tucker Hill Day Use Area. 

Among the familiar turkey oaks, live oaks, and pines within the sandhill habitat, an impressive variety of vegetation thrives despite the arid soil conditions. We will begin our hike with Colleen at a mesic hammock where we will see Pecluma ptilota (Comb Polypody). Next we will walk through sandhill habitat and will be visiting a red-cockaded woodpecker cluster where we might get lucky enough to see the birds. The lupines usually begin blooming in March so there’s a chance we will see some of the blue flowers and other wildflowers, plants and wildlife.

Colleen Werner is a Biologist Scientist II at the Withlacoochee State Forest.  She has been at the WSF for 22 years and has the lead role for management of rare flora, karst resources and cultural resources. She also assists the WSF Ecology Unit with prescribed burns, invasive weed control and rare fauna management.  Colleen has a B.S. in Environmental Botany from USF. 

Directions:  26578 Croom Road (Forest Road 6), Brooksville, FL 34601

From Brooksville head north on U.S, Highway 41 to Croom Road (C-480). Take a right and proceed east on Croom Road to trailhead at Tucker Hill Day Use Area.

Questions?  Email Becky Clayton at  or text  or call 813-416-5672 with any questions.


March Field Trip

March Field Trip: Talk and Walk at Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park

Date and Time: Saturday, March 18, 9:30 a.m.

Location:  Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park 

8001 Double Branch Rd.

Tampa, FL 33635

Meet:  At the Environmental Education Center 

Cost: $2 per car up to 8 people

Bring a hat, water, bug spray and wear sunscreen and good walking shoes.   If it’s been rainy some of the trails might be wet so wear shoes you don’t might getting wet. 

Need a Ride?  Willing to drive? Let me know I’ll try to match you up. 

Lunch: See below 

Field Trip Leader:  Joel Jackson 

Hillsborough County founded the Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park in 1982 saving the environmentally sensitive terrain from potential being reconfigured into a waterfront subdivision.  It now provides a protected area for nature study and passive recreation. The 596-acre peninsular park hugs the bay’s northern shoreline and protects valuable coastal habitat and ecological communities that include mangrove forests, salt marshes, freshwater marshes, oyster beds, coastal hammocks, and pine flatwoods. 

We will start the morning in the Environmental Education Center to view the interpretive exhibits that describe the park environment, history, and geology, and live animal displays. Joel will provide a short presentation and then we will head out on the trails and boardwalk.  There are three short, easy nature trails – the Eagle, the Otter, and the Bobcat – each explores different aspects of the park’s ecosystems. Gopher tortoises, zebra swallowtail butterflies, and bobcats live here.  Red shouldered hawks and bald eagles are sometimes seen near the live oaks and other hardwood trees near the wetlands. The shoreline and waters attract park other wildlife and many other species, including Roseate spoonbills, ospreys, otters, bottle nosed dolphins, and manatees.  There should be lots wildflowers blooming in March. 

Joel Jackson is a lifelong resident of the Tampa area, served in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer and graduated from USF with both Bachelor and Master’s degrees.  He was the first park and recreation planner for the City of Tampa and managed Hillsborough County’s $10 million park bond program to design and develop six nature parks for the county including Lettuce Lake Park.  When he became the City of Tampa parks grounds manager he drafted the guidelines for a program to purchase environmental lands for Hillsborough County (ELAPP) which to date has acquired over 63,000 acres of conservations lands. His last position was Hillsborough County’s manager for park planning, design, and development. Joel is a 41-year member of the Florida Native Plant Society, a member of Tampa Audubon Society and has received both the FNPS 2016 “Green Palmetto” award for public service and SWFWMD’s 2020 “Water Wise” award for Pasco County.  His hobbies are Photography and making Bluebird nesting boxes.

Extra Activities after the hike:  

Kayaking or canoeing.  If you want to further explore the creek and bay, bring your kayak or canoe or rent one from the park after the hike. Canoes and kayaks can be rented on site at the entry station.  $25 for up to 4 hours. Paddling trail maps are available at the entry station 

 Fishing is welcome along the shoreline. 

 There are picnic tables and shelter available if you bring your lunch or there are many good restaurants close by to eat.

If you have questions or need to contact me please call or text 813-416-5672.  

Becky Clayton


February Field Trip - Edibles in the Wild

Location: Aripeka Sandhills Preserve

18000 Aripeka Road
Hudson, FL 34667

Date and Time: Saturday, February 18, 2023 10:00 am

Field Trip guide: Valerie Anderson, Director of Communications and Programming, FNPS

Valerie will follow up her presentation at our February meeting with a field trip to the Apripeka Sandhills Preserve.  She will primarily focus on learning to identify our native blueberries in the offseason. Valerie will point out habitat for chanterelles and boletes (edible mushrooms). We will also discuss and find edible native mints and other native plants.

The  Preserve was acquired as part of the Weekiwachee Preserve on November 8, 2007. This was a joint acquisition with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Pasco County. The funding from Pasco County was provided by Penny for Pasco. The preserve is managed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District as a part of a regional system of conservation lands that extends up to Crystal River Buffer Preserve, preserving the southernmost coastal hardwood hammock in western Florida. As part of this large preserve, Aripeka Sandhills preserves important habitat communities such as dense hardwood swamps and pine-covered sandhills

Valerie Anderson is the second-full time staff person for FNPS, hired in September 2018 as the Director of Communications & Programming. She runs the virtual FNPS educational programming and assists with many aspects of running FNPS. She lives in Kissimmee with her wife and two dogs, where she is active in her local chapter (Pine Lily), botanizes, lifts weights, and does sprint triathlon.


From Heritage Park in Land O’ Lakes. Head north on Land O' Lakes Blvd/US Hwy 41 N for 6.5 miles to State Rd 52 W and turn left. Travel for 1.9 miles and turn right on to Shady Hills Rd for 4.7 miles.  Turn left onto Peace Blvd/Platinum Dr and continue to follow Peace Blvd for 2.9 mi. Continue onto Denton Ave for 3.7 miles. Turn left onto Little Rd for .7 miles.  Use the right 2 lanes to turn right onto US-19 N. Stay on US 19 for 1.3 miles then turn left onto State Hwy 595.  The destination will be on the right.

Becky Clayton call or text 813-416-5672 or with questions.


January 2023 Field Trip - Walking Tour of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Location:  Marie Selby Gardens, Downtown Campus

1534 Mount Street

Sarasota, FL. 34236

Date and Time:  Saturday, January 14, 2023 9:30am

Cost:  $18 per person for tour and general admission

Meet at Paynes Mansion Gate at 9:15 to center by 9:30

West good walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen

Sign up with Becky Clayton or Jonnie Spitler at the January meeting or call/email Jonnie.  Pay by Thursday, January 12 to reserve your spot. 

The mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.