Community Spirit

How Many Birds Can You Count?

Chilly weather throughout Florida has kept residents inside and close to their heaters, under blankets and in their sweats, long sleeves and socks during December and January. However, spring is just around the corner and there is wildlife to discover in your backyard!

Get your binoculars ready, because starting Feb. 18, the largest bird count in North America begins. The Great Backyard Bird Count, which runs through Feb. 21, is a wonderful chance to add to your Bird Detective checklist and help scientists monitor birds across America. If you do not have a checklist, download it from MyFWC.com/Learning. In the left-hand menu, click “Fun Stuff.” From there, look on the right side of the page under “Educator Links” for “Jr. Birder Program.”

Literacy Week Volunteers Encouraged to Become Mentors

Literacy Week Volunteers Encouraged to Become Mentors

To continue the momentum of last week’s Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!, volunteers throughout the Sunshine State are encouraged to expand their commitment to service by becoming a mentor.  Statistics show that students are far less likely to skip school, have behavioral problems or begin using illegal drugs or alcohol when a mentor is active in their lives.

Seeking Service Minded Kids

The Huggable Heroes program recognizes young leaders between the ages of eight and 18 years old, doing extraordinary things in their communities or around the world to better the lives of others.  Now through February 28, entries are being accepted for the 2011 search for Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes.  Ten Huggable Heroes will be selected and each will be awarded with a $7,500 educational scholarship and a $2,500 donation to the 501 (c)(3) charity of his/her choice. Entry forms are available at all Build-A-Bear Workshop stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, and online at www.lovehugssmiles.com/HuggableHeroes.aspx

Anyone, ages eight and up, can nominate a candidate for this award and/or the young leaders can even nominate themselves. 

Local Area Students Raise Money for Cancer Research

Local Area Students Raise Money for Cancer Research

Clink, clank, clunk!  That’s the sound more than 300,000 students throughout North Florida will soon hear as they pour their pocket change into collection jars to support Olive Garden’s 17th-annual Pasta for Pennies program benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) School & Youth campaign.  Last year, Olive Garden’s Pasta for Pennies collected $6.1 million nationally, bringing the total amount donated since the program’s inception to more than $53 million.

Eighth Annual NEFAR Charity Bass Fishing Tournament Set For April 30

Eighth Annual NEFAR Charity Bass Fishing Tournament Set For April 30

For the eighth consecutive year, the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (NEFAR) will raise funds for the Haven Hospice Roberts Care Center in Palatka through a catch-and-release Charity Bass Fishing Tournament on April 30. NEFAR donates one hundred percent of all proceeds raised to Haven Hospice and has donated more than $124,000 during the past seven years.

New Blood Perks Up Florida Panther Population

USA Today - By the early 1990s there were only 20 to 25 Florida panthers left out of what was once a large and thriving population – and those that remained were sickly and inbred, destined for extinction within 20 years, experts estimated. So in 1995 conservation managers moved eight wild-caught female pumas from Texas to the area – a reintroduction so successful that between 1995 and 2008 a total of 424 panther births have been documented.