Reflections on the "Real Florida"

Family and friends at the "jumping" tree at
Fisheating Creek in Glades County.
Photo by Helen Woodmansee, ca 1975.
A letter from Steve Woodmansee, FNPS president

FNPS members recently received my letter describing childhood adventures in South Florida's outdoors – memorable experiences made possible thanks to preserved lands and my parents' initiative. I dug up some photos of these family trips to share with you. The quality of these photos is not the greatest - they were scanned from prints - but many readers probably have photos like these (maybe even older!) and can relate to a time without cell phones, the Internet or cable television.

At this time of year, we are grateful for our families, and also organizations like FNPS, which works every day, through grassroots volunteer members, to preserve, conserve and restore the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. As I said in my letter, my childhood experiences led me to being part of FNPS, because I believed in the mission before I even knew there was an FNPS.

You know FNPS, our mission and the many great things we do, described on this blog. I hope you share my gratitude and will consider donating now to the Florida Native Plant Society's Annual Fund Drive. We appreciate any contribution of any size, and donations are fully tax deductible.

Woodmansee clan just outside our Dodge Camper, which we took all over Florida.  I'm the little guy on the left in the green shirt and swimsuit.  Site locale is somewhere in the Florida Keys (Bahia Honda State Park?).  Photo by Ralph Woodmansee (father), circa 1976

Sister Helen, Brother Marc, and a partial of my mother "Jo".  The inside of the camper was a nice respite from rainy days, many good times were had, and many board and card games were played (and much teasing).  Photo by Ralph Woodmansee, circa 1976.

My mother, who seemed to have a fashion all of her own.
Photo by Ralph Woodmansee, circa 1976

Me, at 8 years old, fishing in the Florida Bay, America Outdoors Campground, Key Largo.  I remember witnessing in the water, not far from there,  a large hermit crab using a beer can for its shell while we were netting Florida Pink Shrimp some winter night.
Photo by ???, circa 1979.

Me on my 10th Birthday at America Outdoors Campground.  Yes, that is a Mr. Bill shirt.
Photo by??, 1981.

Squirrel in the subtropical trees of Key Largo.  An early attempt to connect with nature with limited technology.  Photo by Steve Woodmansee, 1981.

Thank you,
Steve Woodmansee, President
Florida Native Plant Society

Click to donate:

Click to read Steve's original letter:


Jane Moore Sheppard said…
Brings back memories to this native Floridian. We camped many times on Fisheating Creek and out on the Myakka River from the Manatee county side. I miss the "old" Florida, and living now in Duval County, I am witnessing the pine forest being cleared and built over. Thanks for everyone's work to save what we can.
Adele Simons said…
I spent many weeks camping in the Keys at America Outdoors in the 1970's and its very likely that our paths could have crossed! We fished the back country and explored the remote mangrove islands. I will never forget spotting a flock of Roseate Spoonbills out there. The beauty of native Florida must be preserved for future generations.
November 30, 2011 Tarflower Chapter Member
Anonymous said…
A special thanks to Steve's Mom for making it a priority to get the kids to these very special places. I can just imagine the "are we there yet" questions from the backseat.
Let's all remember to include our children and theirs in our ventures into the woods; mother nature will do the rest. Amy Hines Loneleaf Chp
Hobo Botanist said…
Hey Adele,
That's way cool that you also visited America Outdoors. It was a great place and time for being a kid. We only fished from the shore, but hiking up the rocky coastline, and snorkeling nearby was great fun. I recall first seeing the white morphs of the Great Blue Heron (legs and beak are yellow as opposed to the Great Egret, which are grey), and the huge diversity of hammock trees around the campground (we learned to stay away from the poisonwood). Our favorite place to camp was the one beachside on the SW part of the campground. I am happy that much of the Florida Keys is protected, however many places aren't visited as much, while others are darn right crowded. Thanks for your comment! Steve W.
Parenting books should indeed have a chapter on teaching their children about nature. Perhaps we should write one? I think Steve's mom, Joe, would be the perfect author! And great letter Steve, it actually made me want to give FNPS money.
Hobo Botanist said…
Thanks Cindy,

I like your idea. We'll have to talk, and I'll mention it to both my folks ;) As it really was a team effort.

Karin Taylor said…
I loved your recent fund raising letter reminiscing on your childhood, growing up in Florida, visiting parks and other natural places. I usually don't read fund raising letters at all but just write the check. This letter, however, pulled me in immediately with descriptions of what many of us yearn to capture or recapture of Florida that once was or can be again. I passed the letter to my husband for him to also read. This is one solicitation letter that I am keeping as well as responding to.

Karin Taylor

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