Meetings are held the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM at the Land O' Lakes Heritage Park, 5401 Land O'Lakes Blvd., Land O'Lakes, FL 34639  

Our meetings are open to the public. Please come join our monthly meetings at 7PM at Heritage Park. Experienced presenters speak on a variety of subjects, from wildlife and their habitats, gardening with native plants, and everything in between!

May, 2024 Chapter Meeting

Date: MAY 14

Title/Topic: Ecosphere Restoration Institute -  Our Mission, Accomplishments, and Future Initiatives

This non-profit was founded in 2003, primarily to formulate public/private/partnerships to implement meaningful habitat restoration/preservation efforts in valuable locations.  To date,  we have facilitated 30 projects that have restored more than 550 acres of critical habitats and enhanced over 3,800 acres. In addition, we have fostered dozens of living shoreline projects restoring over 4 miles of eroded coastlines. Our expertise in building innovative partnerships has secured $10 million in grants and $11 million in matching funds involving participants ranging from federal agencies, regional/local governments, and large industries to small businesses, community groups and citizen-volunteers.  We will highlight several representative projects and discuss lessons learned and future initiatives, including our latest collaboration portal:  Eco Alliance.

Presenter:  Tom Ries is a nationally known ecologist with more than 40 years of experience restoring natural systems in the SE.  His work has garnered numerous environmental awards and resulted in the restoration of more than 3,800 acres of wetlands and coastal communities.  He is a recognized expert in nature-based shoreline stabilization techniques, having implemented over 53 living shorelines in the Tampa Bay region.

Tom graduated from the University of South Florida with degrees in Biology and Geology.

Past Chapter Meetings


Title/Topic: Climate Change: Global Negotiations, Local Impacts

This presentation and discussion will start at the global scale with The Paris Agreement, the landmark agreement on climate change, that was adopted by 196 countries in 2015. The presentation will focus on how the Paris Agreement works and the extent to which biodiversity and natural systems are protected in the process. We will also discuss the Race to Resilience, the global campaign to increase the climate resilience of 4 billion people by 2030. The second part of the presentation and discussion will focus on ways the changing climate and atmosphere impact ecosystems, with an emphasis on plants.

Presenter: René Wiesner Brown, PhD, is an environmental biologist focused on land conservation and climate change. As the Senior Director of Habitat Restoration for the nonprofit Ecosphere Restoration Institute, she is involved in habitat restoration projects around Tampa Bay and in seagrass restoration around the State. She is a Civil Society Delegate of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and an appointed member of the Expert Review Group of the UN’s Race to Resilience. She is also the President of the Tampa Bay Conservancy and a Vice Chair of the Florida Wildlife Federation


Date:  FEB 13

Title/Topic: USF Botanical Gardens: Past, Present and Future

The University of South Florida Botanical Gardens consists of 16 acres of gardens and greenbelt on the Tampa campus of USF.  It maintains a living collection of more than 3,000 plants, animals and natural habitats. The Gardens also support ongoing research and serves as a living classroom for education. This presentation touches on the history of the Gardens and the plans for improvements/changes. There is now a focus on native plants and a significant number of native species have been added.

Presenter:  Craig Huegel, who became  the new USF Botanical Garden Director in August 2022, has a rather broad professional background in west-central Florida starting in 1987.   He co-founded the Urban Wildlife Cooperative Extension program at the University of Florida and then became the first manager of Pinellas County’s Brooker Creek Preserve for 12 years.  Since then, he has worked as an environmental consultant, started his own consulting company, and taught biology at St. Petersburg and Tampa College.

    Craig has an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin and a PhD in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University. He also has loved and grown plants since early childhood and manages a small native wildflower nursery out of his home called Hawthorn Hill. Craig has authored six books on native plants and wildlife and writes two popular blogs related to plants and gardening.


Date:  JAN 9. (Cancelled due to weather)

Title/Topic:  Colt Creek State Park

Colt Creek State Park includes more than 5,000 acres of native Central Florida habitat located in Polk County just over the Pasco County line.  It’s composed of longleaf pine flatwoods, lakes, creeks and cypress domes.  It is home to many species of native plants and animals including threatened species like the gopher tortoise and the Sherman’s fox squirrel. This presentation is a brief overview of Colt Creek State Park showcasing the park facilities and amenities, prominent plants and animals and things to do at the park.

Presenter:  Heather Coleman

As the Park Services Specialist at Colt Creek State Park, Heather is the volunteer coordinator and interpretive chairperson for the park. Heather was born and raised in Kissimmee, Florida and graduated from Florida Southern College in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. She started volunteering at Colt Creek State Park and worked her way up to where she is now - sharing her passion for the Park and the outdoors. When she is not working, Heather likes to spend time with her husband, one year old baby, and family exploring the real Florida either hiking, biking, or paddle boarding.

November Chapter Meeting

Nov. 14, 2023

Title/Topic:  Chronicling the Development of a Native Wildflower Garden

VISTA Gardens is a community garden in the Carrolwood area of N. Tampa where members grow vegetables and flowers for their families and neighbors.  The Wildflower Garden serves as a landscape demonstration garden and is one of several native plant and pollinator gardens that surround 65 raised garden beds.  This presentation will show progress photos beginning with site and soil preparation and ending with current images of a garden that now covers 1,900 square feet of public land. You will hear about challenges presented by soil conditions on a disturbed site and see images of many native plants that highlight 12 “lessons learned” in the planting and care of Florida native plants. Currently, a dedicated group of wildflower gardeners and community volunteers maintains nearly 500 Florida native plants of 83 varieties.  NOTE:  Extra gardening or native plant books you could donate to VISTA's Little Free Library would be appreciated.

Presenter:  Roberta Owens, M.Ed., focused on professional and program development, communication, and creativity during her 40+ year career in Early Childhood Education.  She relocated to Florida in 2016 excited about gardening year around and joined a community garden, VISTA Gardens, near her home. Having learned the importance of companion planting to successful vegetable gardening, it became a mission to develop native plant gardens surrounding the raised beds to attract beneficial insects and wildlife. Roberta managed VISTA’s development of the Wildflower Garden, one of 12 Viva Florida Landscape Demonstration grants awarded by the Florida Wildflower Foundation in 2021 and designed by Bruce Turley, Past President of the Pinellas Chapter of FNPS.

December Holiday Gathering

Saturday, Dec. 9   9:30am - 2pm

Crews Lake Wilderness Park - Pavilion 2

16739 Crews Lake Dr, Spring Hill, FL  34610

Lunch will be catered (paid for by our Chapter) 

Spouses, partners, family are welcome. 

We need to know the number coming before Mon., Dec. 4

Contact Rebecca Dance; (813) 368-9041

Lunch:  Will start at 11:30 am with the Raffle to follow.  Lunch and bottled water will be provided. 

Walks:  Come earlier (9:30 am or later) if you would like to walk some of the trails in the park.  There are no park rangers available but we will have a map for you to explore the variety of habitats; sandhills, scrubby flatwoods, cypress domes, oak hammocks, and the shore of Crews Lake.

Raffle Reminder: Last year’s raffle was a big success so we’re having it again.  If you have raffle items contact Mary Ellen at 727 264-8701 or and she will make every effort to get the item(s) from you.  If you are bringing items to the Gathering, Mary Ellen needs them by 9:45 am that morning, Dec. 9.

Items for sale: (Credit cards, check or cash)

* Pat Kelly's calendars, cards & prints 

* Native Plant & Landscaping Books


October Chapter Meeting

Title/Topic:     Florida's Carnivorous Plants
When:             Tuesday, October 10th @ 7pm
Where:            Heritage Park Community Center, Land O Lakes

Details:  Learn about Florida's endemic carnivorous plants! Florida has dozens of native species of carnivorous plants – more than any other state in the United States. These plants use appealing scents, leaves, and sticky fluids to trap and imprison insects. Learn the evolution, people, and natural history of this area to discover why Florida is a hotspot of carnivorous plants.  

BONUS: Kenny's book "Florida's Carnivorous Plants" and a selection of carnivorous plants will be available for purchase after the talk!

Presenter: Kenny Coogan has a Master’s Degree in Global Sustainability and is passionate about Florida’s wildlife and plants. Coogan is an active member with the International Carnivorous Plant Society, serving as the Education Director. He now runs a successful carnivorous plant nursery in Tampa, Florida.

September 12 Chapter Meeting and Movie

Title/Topic:  Pulse on Florida Native Plant Society - Current Activities & Future Projects
When:     Tuesday, August 8th @ 7pm
Where:    Heritage Park Community Center, Land O Lakes

Details:  Lynda will talk about working through the complexities of the FNPS infrastructure with the goal to improve current processes while crafting plans for the future.  Her work with FNPS is to seek out opportunities for growth in order to make a greater and positive impact on Florida’s fragile environment.

Presenter: Lynda Davis, Executive Director of FNPS

Originally from the UK, Lynda now lives in Tampa with her husband and teenage son and is a member of her local Suncoast Chapter. Prior to joining FNPS, she led and advised many non-profit organizations in both Europe and the USA, all of which have faced complex challenges with a desire to do more with their limited resources.  She enjoys exploring Florida’s parks with her camera, kayaking through mangroves and restoring her historic home.



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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.