The Conservancy of Southwest Florida Celebrates Grand Reopening

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Gran Reopening Festival took place this past weekend welcoming the community to it’s brand new 21-acre nature experience.  The two day festival served both as the official opening of the new Nature Center, the culmination of a 20 million dollar project, and as a celebration of Earth Day.



The Smith Preserve.


Visitors parked nearby and then where taken on trollies to the new Smith Preserve Way entrance, just south of the Naples Zoo on Goodlette-Frank Road.




As we walked across the wooden bridge we where able to observe gopher tortoises resting at the entrance of their burrows. There where many activities and fun things for children to do from live music to the recycling robot who surprised passers by greeting them, making jokes and asking for hugs.


The robot was a hit with young and old.

The robot was a hit with young and old.


We then proceed to the Eaton Conservation Hall where oceanographer, explorer and author Sylvia Earle was speaking at the new Jeanie Meg Smith Theater.



The Eaton Conservation Hall.


At the Ferguson Learning lab my children engaged in various fun and educational activities from crafts, to doing the bee dance. We had a wonderful day and we are truly amazed by all of the learning opportunities that the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Nature Center provides.

Just a few weeks before we had the chance to experience the many of the exhibits and activities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Nature Center.  The Dalton Discovery Center houses interactive exhibits of unique ecosystems that can be found in Southwest Florida and the kids where able to learn about the animals that live in each of these ecosystems. We also took the electric boat ride through the mangrove covered Gordon river where we observed birds and manatees and visited the Von Arx Wildlife Hospital where local animals that have been rescued are nursed to recovery and, when possible released into their natural habitat . You can learn more about everything the Nature Center has to offer from by reading more on my previous article and by visiting the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s website.


The Dalton Discovery Center.

The Dalton Discovery Center.


The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is, however, much more than a Nature Center.  The Conservancy of Southwest Florida researches the issues impacting our environment,  promotes sound environmental policies based on the best available science, rehabilitates  injured, sick and orphaned wildlife and provides a variety of educational programs both at the Nature Center and out in the community.  You can learn more about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s mission and work on their website HERE.


The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, much more than a Nature Center.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, much more than a Nature Center.

Visiting the Nature Center

The Nature Center is located at 1450 Merrihue Drive, off 14th Avenue North at Goodlette Frank Road

It’s hours of operation are Monday – Saturday from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM.  Members Early Bird admission starts at 9 AM

Admission is free for members (you can join HERE) $12.95 adults, $8.95 for chidren 3 to 12 and free for children under three.

Disclosure: I received tickets to attend the Grand Reopening however all opinions are sincere and are my own.

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About the author

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

Paula is a freelance writer, translator & marketer. She started her writing & publishing career as the editor of Bebé y Mamá, the first parenting magazine in Guatemala. She is the founder of www.GrowingUpBilingual.com and www.365thingsswfl.com and writes articles in Spanish and English for both magazines and the web on subjects ranging from travel and food to parenting and bilingualism. She enjoys traveling, good food and is always in search of new things to do and in Southwest Florida.

1 comment

  1. Sunnymay

    The Nature Center of Shaker Heights, OH, has a boardwalk that wraps around a stream that’s a nature preserve for birds and animals. My kids still like going there.
    At a conservancy, it’s Earth Day year-round and classes are offered in being green and being stewards of the environment. You can’t start too young learning about nature human, plant and animal.

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