Reasons to Register NOW for the FNPS Conference

Submitted by Donna Bollenbach

Registration is now open for the 2017 FNPS Conference. 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 of what’s in store for you….

Reason #1: There’s Nothing Like It

South Florida Water Management Photo of Kissimmee River Restoration
Florida Native Plant Society President, Catherine Bowman sums it up: There is nothing like it:  You will be in a place of awe inspiring, thought provoking, energizing beauty in the heart of Florida.  The Kissimmee River and Everglades Restoration Areas will extend before you to the south, as the headwaters of the St. Johns River, with its restoration projects and recreational opportunities, flow to the north.  River Ranch, once a cattle trail stop, then a dude ranch, is now a comfortable resort in this rustic, history-rich part of Florida. From River Ranch, the Florida Trail will take you down to KICCO (for Kissimmee Island Cattle Company), now a ghost town with just a few sidewalks but lots of stories remaining.  From this central location, large diverse tracts of public conservation lands spread in all directions.  Field trips will guide you through these homes to threatened, endangered, and endemic plants and animals.  You will have opportunities to exchange ideas and learn from our honored guests as well as the naturalists, explorers, scientists, and educators who are among our FNPS family.  As we will learn about plant connections, we will learn more about our own connections with plant communities and with those who share our concern for native plants, their natural communities and the expanding areas where we are bringing them back to help heal our developed environments.  Come be surprised and be connected!

Reason #2: The Theme, Speakers & Presentations

The theme of the 37th Annual Conference of the Florida Native Plant Society is Connections: Above & Below. It will be held in the heart of Florida, and central to the largest river restoration project in the world! Many of our speakers and fieldtrips will address this restoration, what has already been done, and the challenges we face going forward. Whether your interest is promoting greenways, protecting waterways, or bringing a sense of place to your home landscape, you will leave with a better understanding where we are, where we need to be, and how you can help get it done.  See the preliminary schedule and read about all our great speakers, and presentation topics here.

Reason #3: The Field Trips & Workshops

On both Thursday May 18 and Sunday May 21 – you can choose from 20 field trips that match your interest and physical ability; from buggy rides to pontoon boats to strolling and hiking. Both full and half-day excursions are offered. Early registration increases your chance of getting your top choice of field trips! We will have trips that will let people see good land management practices and environmental stewardship on some of our working agricultural lands. These trips fill quickly—many will sell out! Register and choose your fieldtrips today.
Disney Wilderness Preserve, photo by Abel Valdivia
In lieu of a field trip, you can opt to learn something new or sharpen a skill by taking a workshop: FNPS conference photographer and Florida master naturalist, Vince Lamb, will be holding a Florida Wildflower Photography Workshop at Lake Kissimmee State Park. Palmetto editor and artist, Marjorie Shropshire, will teach Nature Journaling on and off the Trail, and James Stevenson, Extension Specialist in Pinellas County, will lead a class on Introduction to Plant ID.

Reason #4: The People

There’s something for everyone at the FNPS Conference:  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. 

Janet Bowers, from Suncoast Chapter, supports that view: “I have attended the conference every year since the 2012 conference in Plant City. You never know who you will meet and are sure to find friends at the conferences.  It could be the conversation with a person you just met, or a new book about plants with the author who created it.  Come for the day, or come for the whole time, and experience a FNPS conference for yourself!”

Reason #5: The Venue

Our venue, the Westgate River Ranch Resort, is an upscale dude ranch in the heart of rural Florida, just south of SR 60 and south of Lake Kissimmee. Its unique character offers a variety of lodgings to fit every budget: Basic and deluxe guestroom suites, glamping (luxurious air-conditioned tents), RV and tent sites. Rooms are filling fast, so visit the FNPS conference website to Make Your Reservation Now.

How to Register and Reserve Your Room:

For Conference Registration: Register online before May 10, 2017 for the best rates. Use the appropriate link for your attendance type: Attendees/Vendors/Exhibitors, or Speakers/Landscape Award Winners (Conference Volunteers will be sent a separate link to register.)

 Online registration ends on May 11.  Registration will close between May 11-16, 2017. Onsite registration will open May 17, 2017 at 5:00pm and registration rates will increase by $25.00/day. 

For Conference Lodging:  Make sure you get the room you want and the special conference hotel rate by reserving your room now! Call 1-877-502-7058.  Please be sure to use FNPS Group Code (61-528) when making individual reservations.  The Resort’s Call Center’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8am to 12am, Saturday from 9am to 8pm and Sunday from 10am-6pm. These hours are subject to change

What are You Waiting For?  Register Today!


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