Reasons to Register NOW for the FNPS Conference

By Cindy Liberton, Hernando Chapter FNPS
Conference Committee Member

Registration is now open at If you know you’re going, you should register early. If you’re undecided, I'm going to try to persuade you! Consider this a sneak preview. Watch this blog for more details in the weeks to come... 

Hosted by the Hernando and Suncoast Chapters of the Florida Native Plant Society

Reasons to Register 

Reason #1: There’s Nothing Like It
Florida Native Plant Society President, Steve Woodmansee sums it up: "The FNPS conference is the premier annual gathering for all native plant lovers. Folks of various backgrounds from the bluffs of the Apalachicola River to the sub-tropical archipelago of the Florida Keys and all parts in between have an opportunity to join in fellowship, share ideas, strategize, and learn about the 'whys' and 'how's' of conserving and protecting Florida's flora."

Reason #2: The Field Trips
Early registration increases your chance of getting the top choice field trip you want! We have selected trips that immerse attendees in the natural heritage of the region. Led by plant experts and local hosts—on both Thursday May 17 and Sunday May 20 - the 20+ field trips are diverse in focus and difficulty, from strolling to paddling to pounding over tough terrain. Both full- and half-day excursions are offered. These trips fill quickly—many will sell out! Read the descriptions and see the map at:

The Green Swamp includes the headwaters of the Hillsborough, Withlacoochee, Little Withlacoochee, Oklawaha
and Peace River. Three field trips explore different aspects of this vast system: sandhill restoration, wetlands,
and wildflowers. Image by Jim Phillips, SWFWMD 

Reason #3: The People
Janet Bowers, from Suncoast Chapter (watch for her upcoming blog post) has attended the last three conferences. “You never know who you will meet and are sure to find friends at the conferences,” says Janet. Sid Taylor, Hernando Chapter, adds “There’s something for everyone: scholars, perpetual students, backyard naturalists, land managers, scientists, landscapers, butterfly enthusiasts, foresters, gardeners, outdoor lovers, and kids of all ages.” The diversity of people and professions offer points of view that create a lively exchange of ideas in the sessions, halls, and socials. 

Our Friday night social at Gigi's will bring out the little kid in you. A bit of fantasia in
Plant City, fanciful signage leads you through a labyrinth of paths and waterways
highlighted by whimsical sculptures and improbable waterfalls.
Image by Mark Hutchinson

Speaking of Socials, attendees are in for a treat. Thursday night offers a casual get together at the conference hotel, with an open mic, so start rehearsing now. On Friday evening, it is a short drive to the whimsical Gigi's Country Garden where art and water features combine in the most surprising ways. On Saturday, we’re thrilled to invite participants to Crystal Springs Preserve for our gala banquet. See Shirley Denton’s post on the history.

For our annual banquet, we will journey to Crystal Springs Preserve for an enchanting May evening waterside.
Crystal Springs is a Second Magnitude spring, discharging 40 million gallons a day. Image by Mark Hutchinson

Reason #4: The Agenda
Our theme is “protecting the natural heart of Florida” and we’ve honored it with our sessions. This year’s tracks - conservation and ecology, native plants in the landscape, current issues, native plant research, and FNPS initiatives - feature expert presenters on the status of native plants in natural areas, on the roadsides, at home, and in your community. Whether your interest is promoting the greenways, protecting the waterways or bringing a sense of place to your home landscape, you will leave knowing more about what you can do, and new ways to get it done!

For General Sessions, the conference will offer three unique perspectives on preserving the Florida landscape. Friday morning, you’ll hear from Tampa Bay Times Columnist and author Jeff Klinkenberg who has defined the Real Florida through the people who create its unique culture. On Saturday, Doug Tallamy from the University of Delaware returns to expand upon his work with Your Role in Building Biological Corridors: Networks for Life. We end the conference program on Saturday afternoon with Hillary Swain, Executive Director of Archbold Biological Station, with a prescription for Saving the Physical, Liquid, and Emotional Heart of Florida.

One of last year's sessions, which was standing room only. Discussions of topics spilled into
hallways and continued into the evening events. Photo by Ginny Stibolt.
Reason #5: Location, Location, Location
Each year, the Society’s annual conference brings us to a different area of the state to explore its unique character and provides attendees with current information on topics of interest. This year’s conference is held east of the Tampa Bay area and just south of the Green Swamp.

“Suncoast is proud to be hosting the 2012 Conference,” says Shirley Denton, Chapter President. “We are really proud of our local conservation areas, some of the best in the state, and looking forward to showing them off. We’re also enthusiastic about our venue – a really modern facility in an old Florida community. I’m really glad that we can bring to FNPS a strong local heritage, great nature, and wonderful talks. We’re very much enjoying working with our co-hosts, the Hernando Chapter, and together we look forward to presenting one of the best conferences ever." 

Native plants for sale? Yes, please! Photo by Ginny Stibolt.
Reason #6: The Shopping
We’ll have a wealth of native plants for central Florida landscapes! The conference site’s beautiful courtyard may be the best ever showcase for our plant vendors. We’ll also have a fine selection of arts and crafts, books, and the fabulous silent auction.

The early bird gets the worm, its pick of conference hotels,
AND still has cash left over! Illustration by Laurie Sheldon
Reason #7: Save Money
The discounted early-bird registration rates end on April 16 for both the conference and lodging... so what are you waiting for???

How to Register

Conference Registration
Register online at before April 17th for the early-bird rate. On-line registration ends May 4. Lunches are provided with advance registration only.

Conference Lodging
Make sure you get the special conference hotel rate by reserving your room now before April 17th! Please mention FNPS when registering. Continental breakfast is included at both conference hotels.

Conference Hotel: Red Rose Inn - $69 conference room rate!
(single/double occupancy +12% tax)
2011 North Wheeler Street
Plant City, FL 33563
Reservations: (813) 752-3141

Secondary Conference Hotel: Holiday Inn Express
2102 North Park Road
Plant City, FL 33563
Reservations:(813) 719-3800 Preserving the Natural Heart of Florida is sponsored by the Florida Native Plant Society with major support from the University of Florida's IFAS, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.


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