A Florida Native Plant Society Chapter for

DeSoto, Sarasota, Manatee, and Hardee Counties

Please join us

River of Gold Tickseed

In times of drought, tickseed turns the river to gold. Myakka River State Park.

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Pretty in pink

All dressed up for native plant shopping. Kids can really get into gardening with native plants.

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Past speakers

Watch our past programs on YouTube

Join us at FNPS

Join to protect the native plants in Florida

Welcome to Serenoa Chapter

Who we are and what fun things we do

Spring Wildflower Festival & Native Plant Sale

Saturday, April 13th, 9am - 3pm @Sweet Bay Nursery 10824 ErieRoad, Parrish

Garden for Birds

Find out which native plants will thrive in your zip code with Audubon native plants database

2023-2024 Meetings and Field Trips

General Meetings

Our General Meetings are in-person and on Zoom at 7:00pm EST on the 3rd Monday of each month, September through May.  We first convene for a short business meeting followed by the evening's program.  After the presentation, the meeting concludes with a moderated Q&A session with the speaker.  The in-person meetings are held at the Selby Garden downtown campus (1534 Mound Street, Sarasota, FL 34236), and Zoom meeting registration links are provided below .  Please register in advance.

For those attending the meeting in person at Selby Gardens:  

Selby Gardens is currently under renovation so please follow these directions for parking and access to the conference center.

For parking: 
Enter at the construction entrance on Orange Ave just south of US41.
Look for FNPS sign. (Palm Ave entrance is closed. Do not go into Parking Garage).
Follow construction entrance and park in the parking lot directly east or across from main gardens entrance.
Walk across Palm Ave and enter through iron gates just south or to the left of main entrance.
Follow path to the right going north past koi ponds continuing to the west of the orchid house to enter conference center on the west side doors.

For the best experience we recommend you download the Zoom app ahead of time at https://zoom.us/download.  Contact Alison Bishop for zoom technical assistance serenoa@fnps.org or texting her at 941-376-4415.

Field Trips

There's now something happening at least once a month.  Whether it's an educational tour, informal hike, or to advocate, Serenoa is getting out into the community.  Some trips have limited availability.  Register online in advance to confirm your spot.  Please wear appropriate clothing, pack trail snacks and bring water.  Details and directions will be emailed to registrants as the trip date approaches. 

September 2023

  • Monday, September 18th, 7pm - General Meeting - Native Plants 101 with Jeff Weber

Are you new to disvcovering and gardening with native plants?  then this introduction is for you!  This presentation will help you better understand what natives are, why they are so important, and why each of us should be protecting them and using them in our own yards!  You'll also learn about some of our rare natives and some that are true Florida endemics. 

Register here to join zoom meeting

  • Saturday, September 23rd, 9am - Field Trip - Old Miakka Preserve with Jeff Weber

Come with us on a plant walk to learn more about local native plants led by Jeff weber.

Register here

Jeff Weber, Sarasota County Environmental Specialist

Jeff is originally from New Your state but has lived in Florida for the past 53 years.  He graduated from Seminole High School in Pinellas County and earned a bachelor's degree in Biology from Eckerd College in St Pete.  Professionally, Jeff has enjoyed a nearly 40-year career in the environmental field having worked previously with the Florida Park Service for 8 years and in his current position with Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department for the past 30 years.  In his current position, Jeff managed 5 county parks and preserves for Sarasota County and enjoys working in such beautiful surroundings and sharing his passion for the preservation and protection of these special places.

October 2023

  • Monday, October 16th, 7pm - General Meeting - Protecting and Sharing Myakka's Magic with Miri Hardy

Miri will share with us the current state of Myakka River State Park with a particular focus on native and invasive plants.

Register here to join zoom meeting

Miri Hardy, Executive Director of the Friends of Myakka River

In her new role as Executive Director of the Friends of Myakka River, Miri is working with the board to develop and implement a strategic plan for the organization, which includes building awareness about Friends of Myakka River, further increasing the non-profit's impact through environmental education, and continuing to ensure the organization's long-term financial viability.  A Sarasota resident since 2014, Miri holds a PhD in Social Psychology from Washington University in St Louis.  She is happiest exploring wild Florida, offentimes on her bike, and capturing its beauty through the lens of her camera.

  • Saturday, October 21st, 10am - Field Trip - Myakka River State Park with Paula Benshoff

Do spring burns bring fall flowers?  Let's check out prairies that burned this year to see what plants responded with Florida's fall colors.

Register here

Paula Benshoff is the author of Myakka and a former Park Naturalist at Florida State Parks.

  • Sunday, October 29th, 9am - Plant Walk - Perico Preserve with Elliot Prout

You will learn about the history of the preserve, restoration efforts, and of course a variety of native plants, how to ID them and how you could use them in your landscape at home. Muhly grass and several wildflowers will be in peak bloom!

Register here

November 2023

  • Saturday, November 18th, 10am - Field Trip - Carlton Reserve with Meghan Meyer

Come with us on a walk to learn more about prescribed fire and native plants with Meghan Meyer.

Register here

  • Monday, November 20th, 7pm - General Meeting - Fire & Native Plants with Meghan Meyer

Register here to join zoom meeting

Find out more about prescribed fires and their impact on native plants.

Meghan Meyer is the Carlton Reserve Land Manager and Environmental Specialist III - Land Manager at Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural resources.

December 2023

  • Monday, December 18th, 7pm - General Meeting & Chapter Holiday Party

Potluck party.  Share the holiday joy with chapter members at Sarasota Audubon Nature Center.

  • Saturday, December 23rd, 10am - Field Trip - Beker-South Fork with Tom Heitzman

Register here

Tom Heitzman is the founder and co-owner of Sweet Bay Nursery.  A graduate of Ohio State with a degree in Horticulture with 40 years experience in all aspects of Florida gardening.  He a past and current president of Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, past co-president of FANN and past president of Manatee County Audubon.  He enjoys leading wildflower walks and volunteering his expertise to improve the local environment.

January 2024

  • Monday, January 15th, 7pm - General Zoom Meeting - New Developments at Orange Hammock Wildlife Management Area with Hunter Folmar

The recent acquisition of orange Hammock, situated between the RV Griffin Reserve and the Longino Preserve, creates a 121,000 acre conservation corridor of environmentally sensitive land between the Peace River, Myakka River and Charlotte Harbor.  The WMA protects wetlands critical to the area's drinking water supply while conserving habitats for a wide array of imperiled, rare and common wildlife.  Active land management will make WMA an increasingly excellent place to view wildlife.

Register here to join zoom meeting

  • Saturday, January 20th, 9am - Field Trip - Orange Hammock Wildlife Management Area with Hunter Folmar

Come see and learn about a 5,000 acre+ area that has approximately 9 miles of trails, including the 7-mile Tarflower Trail and the 2-mile Slough Point Trail.

Register here

Hunter Folmar is the Land Manager of Orange Hammock Wildlife Management Area.

February 2024

  • Monday, February 19th, 7pm - General Meeting - Florida's Carnivorous Plants Presentation and Plant Sale with Kenny Coogan

Learn about Florida's endemic carnivorous plants!  Florida has dozens of native species of carnivorous plants - more than any other state in the country.  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 hot spot of carnivorous plants.

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

Presented by Kenny Coogan, author of the book "Florida's Carnivorous Plants".

Register here to join zoom meeting

  • Saturday, February 24th, 9am - Field Trip - Carnivorous Plants and Beyond in Myakka River State Park with Mike Stanfield

Register here

Mike Stanfield, the Plant Dude, grew up near Bahia Vista and the future Legacy Trail extension.  Almost every day, he and his friends would hike the railroad tracks to the trestle or have a dirt clod war in their neighborhood.  In 1973, Mike's best friend at Pineview Elementary School told stories of adventure in a playground of flora and fauna.  This is because his best friend's father was a park ranger at Myakka River State Park.  It was then that Mike decided on his future career.  His first boy scout camping trip plus family reunions and weddings took place in Myakka throughout the years.  He started volunteering at the park in 2007 and joined the team about five years later.  The unofficial naturalist of Myakka is well known for interpreting the park, especially plants, but he loves all aspects of the job, from prescribed fire to vehicle logs.  He comes in to work every day because the park is his office, and it's a place where so many special memories were made throughout his life.

March 2024

  • Monday, March 18th, 7pm - General Meeting - Learning About Tiger Creek Preserve with Cheryl Millett

Tiger Creek Preserve is a place of mystery and contrasts.  It sits on the eastern edge of the Lake Wales Ridge, one of Florida's ancient islands.  Separated from the mainland long ago by a shallow sea, the Ridge is peninsular Florida's oldest and highest landmass.  Fast forward to the present day, this ancient separation is the reason why the preserve has one of the highest concentrations of threatened and endangered plants and animals in the country.  Some exist nowhere else on Earth.

Register here to join zoom meeting

  • Saturday, March 23rd, 9am - Field Trip - Tiger Creek Preserve with Cheryl Millett

Explore the preserve with its manager.

Register here

Cheryl Millett is Tiger Creek Preserve Manager with the Florida Chapter of the Nature Conservancy in Central Florida.  She is passionate about connecting people and nature and growing the next generation of conservationists.  She has led partnership programs focused on land management since 2005.  She'd love to talk with you about the Center for Conservation Initiatives, invasive Burmese pythons, longleaf pine habitat, Florida scrub jays, the Lake Wales Ridge or anything about conservation.

April 2024

  • Monday, April 15th, 7pm - General Meeting - Defend Yourself! - How bugs and bloomers survive by John Lampkin

Insects and plants have evolved often astonishing and sometimes bizarre ways to survive when everything is out to eat them.  For more than a decade, John Lampkin has been photo-documenting thorns and thistles and toxic chemical cocktails, as bug and bloomers battle it out.  The result is a visually delightful, fun, and educational exploration of a 450-million-year-old arms race.

Register here to join zoom meeting

John Lampkin is an avid naturalist and Nature photographer with credits in many field guides, books, journals, websites and blogs, and he won the 2020 American Butterflies magazine photo contest.  As a professional composer, his woodwind quintet, "Insects: A Musical Entomology in Six Legs" won the grnad prize in a Composers Guild international competition.  John also constructs crossword puzzles for the NYT, WSJ, LA Times and other venues, with many of his puzzles having Nature themes.  Except for his fascination with bugs and plants he is totally harmless.

  • Saturday, April 13th - Native Plant Sale - At Sweet Bay Nursery

Proceeds benefit Serenoa Chapter.

May 2024

  • Monday, May 20th 7pm - General Meeting - Designing Your Yard with Native Plants with Tom Heitzman

Learn about the best plants to use to attract more birds and butterflies to your yard from Tom Heitzman, Chapter President.

Register here to join zoom meeting

  • Tuesday, May 21 10am - Field Trip - Stoneybrook Grounds Tour with Forest Crooke

Register here

Forest Crooke, Stoneybrook Grounds & Natural Assets Manager, will lead the tour of this innovative Sarasota Community that has gone native!  Stoneybrook is a fascinating model for those looking to get more native plants in their communities.

Specifically, we will take a look at the community's most beautiful wetland just down from the clubhouse area. At the end of the natural trail is the planted Miyawaki Micro-Forest. The Micro-Forest alone was planted with 50-60 Florida native plants & trees. Directly across the street from the wetland is a very successful native aquatic plant project installed last year.

The whole route would be about ½ mile or a bit longer if we backtrack along the nature trail to get to the pond. We could easily spend an hour or so on the whole thing, especially with questions from the group. Also, for our plant nerds who want to pitch in, we will place plant tags in the micro-forest. Bragging rights are included for the most tags and species hooked up!

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.