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The Trailhead is located in Lake County, Florida. map

For more information, please contact info@scrubjaytrail.org
(352) 429-5566

Email photo contributions
of wildlife or plants seen
on the trail to this address: photos@scrubjaytrail.org



Year End Newsletter
2015: It has been a very good year.

"A Florida Scrub-Jay at the Trail"
photo: Jim Suzuki
See more of his photographs in the Gallery

Looking back over the past year, it amazes me how a small group of people can accomplish so much. Margaret Mead says that we can change the world. While I might not go quite that far, I will say we're making a darned good run at it so far.

This year we enjoyed a family of 4 Florida Scrub-Jays up until the end when 2 juveniles decided it was time to find their own mate and dispersed. We look forward to a productive 2016 with your help in maintaining a healthy habitat as you have for the past 20 years.

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Great volunteers on the Trail

Pamela Adams, Hiroshi Araki, Janet Carter, Ron Carter, Judy Clark, Breanne DiDomenico, Connie Gibb, Jana Harris, Dahna James, Dianna Magrum, Marc Minno, Dean Morris, Alan Oyler, Bev Oyler, Laurel Temmen, Becky Thomton, John Thomton, Susan Vergnani, LaVonne Wettering – thank you for devoting so much of your time to saving the Scrub-Jay, educating our youth, and enlightening our community. It would be a real struggle without you.

Volunteer of the Year

Judy Clark gets the well-deserved award of Volunteer of the Year.

For 11 years, Judy has been faithfully making the long drive from Orlando each month to join us for yoga and Trail Days where she participates in Trail maintenance as well as constantly amazes us with her culinary prowess.

When the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail office was having enormous computer problems, Judy stepped up with a brand new HP Laptop with Windows 10 and a year-long Geek Squad service contract. She also has been a huge help by taking on additional responsibilities with our newsletter and social media. Thanks so much Judy!

Outstanding Volunteers

Dr. Marc Minno is a strong supporter of the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail. Over the past 13 years he has generously contributed his time and expertise educating adults and children alike about the great gift of nature. This past year he traveled from Gainesville, FL, to offer four-hour training courses, sharing his knowledge of butterflies and other wildlife and fauna to those who want to expand their horizons and possibly make a career as he has in dedicating his life to our environment.

Two more 11 year veterans are David Mazurek and Sandra Groeneveld (www.kalideco.com). When you click onto www.scrubjaytrail.org you are instantly impressed by their artistry. Together they have created the beautiful "look" of the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail website as well as many graphic design marketing pieces. In addition, for any computer issue we have (mostly due to us not having the knowledge about this technology) they always come to our rescue with lightning speed. We thank you for your talent and steadfast support.

Many thanks go to Connie Gibb for her role as Educational Coordinator for our school programs and Fishing and Boating Camps. Fun to watch the kids get excited when they see Miss Connie coming. They always let her know what science fair they saw her at last.





Jana Harris does a great job monitoring and maintaining the 28 Bluebird boxes on the Trail as well as overseeing the Monarch Watch Program. Jana is also responsible for growing many of the plants you see in the Craig Tufts Pollinator Garden.


Additional kudos go to Louise Hunt for her beautiful photographic plant signs on the Trail. These signs are mounted on heavy duty frames and displayed in heavy laminate for long term enjoyment. Guests and visitors love these informative signs.

John Thomton is all about the birds. For the past eight years John has been our Birder-In-Chief, very active in the restoration of the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail and a prominent presenter of many birding workshops for beginners and advanced birders. John has spent several years compiling our Bird Checklist which consists of over 125 species. Recent accolades consist of the enormous time involved with founding and organizing the Clermont Christmas Bird Count for the past three years.

Hiroshi Araki, international travel writer and photographer, has been covering our events for many years. We thank you for always being there to capture the moment.

Dianna Magrum has been our certified yoga instructor for the past two years. This is heaven…. Every 4th Saturday of the month, everyone is invited to the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail for one hour of yoga starting at 7am sunrise by the lake. Additional instruction is offered by Pamela Adams (also certified) who frequently joins us or leads us in an hour of Blissful Yoga by the Lake. Namaste!

Faith Hoogs has joined us as our "all around" volunteer. There is nothing she can't do. Her organizational skills and generous donations have provided us with much needed help.

Elaine York - thank you for the magic you do with our Facebook page and taking the time to explain the ins and outs of this social media medium.

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Our Hero

In September, our own Cathy Brown was awarded the Cox Conserves Hero award, presented by WFTV Channel 9, Cox Enterprises and the Trust for Public Lands.

This award was the result of a six-county search for viewers' favorite conservationists. After the field was narrowed down to three finalists, viewers were invited to view videos of the candidates and vote online. At a ceremony held at Channel 9 and hosted by News Anchor Marty Salt, Cathy was presented a $5,000 check for her charity, the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail, of course. Thanks to all who voted for her.

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Trail Visitors

Attendance at the Trail continues to increase with visitors from all over the world coming to add the Florida Scrub-Jay to their Life Lists. Local birders come frequently to take advantage of the diverse birding population to be found here and a variety of native flowers in bloom throughout the year.

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Clermont Christmas Bird Count

We started off 2015 with the annual Clermont Christmas Bird Count as reported by a small army of birders. The count began at dawn and went until dusk.

Lunch was provided by Stone Creek Pizza and birders returned to the Trailhouse at the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail for a sumptuous feast, sponsored by Clermont's Carrabba's Italian Grill, and to hear the final count of 132 species which was forwarded to Audubon.

John Thomton did another fabulous job putting together and administering this event. Thank you John for helping to put Lake County, FL, on the map.

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Bio Blitz

Dr. Marc Minno visited B.B.Brown's Gardens at The Florida Scrub-Jay Trail eight times this year to conduct his BioBlitz Field Courses.

Dr. Minno is an author, biologist, lepidopterist, and scientist with Suwannee River Water Authority. These four-hour field courses consist of an ongoing butterfly survey followed by a selected species of plants, birds, flowers, trees, insects and much more. Field courses continue into 2016.

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Fishing and Boating Safety Camps
for 9 to 15 year olds.

In its 2nd year here at the Trail, (15th year statewide), in partnership with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Florida Youth Conservation Center Network (FYCCN), this extremely popular week-long day camp provided young anglers with the equipment and know-how to be accomplished fishermen.

Our Captain and leader was Dean Morris, assisted by Connie Gibb, and Counselors in Training, Nicholas Knapp, Colton Lipham and Jeremy Porter. Rods, reels, tackle and tackle boxes were provided to the campers to keep.

The training culminated with a fish fry
(thanks to Joe & Lisa Stewart and Jim Briggs) for their family and show and tell. Wonderful side dishes were supplied by the campers' families. Some campers piloted their boats, with family in tow, while others chose to go fishing from the new dock.

Supporters were Fish Florida, Dream Weavers Custom Embroidery of Tavares, Dick's Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops, Anglers Tackle Shack of Bushnell, Oak Wood Grill of Clermont, Stone Creek Pizza of Clermont, and Chick-fil-A of Clermont. For more information and to register for the 2016 season, call 352-429-5566 or info@scrubjaytrail.org.

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A Dock at Last

People from far and wide pulled together to help build a dock for the Summer Fishing and Boating Camp and it was a huge success.

Just in time for Fish Camp, our dock was completed. This allowed us to have half of the campers fishing from the dock while the others were in boats. The dock is popular with the campers because it's easy just to drop your line straight down and pull up a Bluegill. Fortunately for the fish, we are a catchand-release camp.

Many thanks to the sponsors who made the dock possible: Denise Pyke Construction, Florida Landscape Brokers, Leonard H. Baird Jr. Attorney At Law, Matlack Tree Farm, Oakwood Smokehouse and Grill, Smokey Valley Stone Company.

And thanks to all the donors from far and wide who helped make this dock a reality. Without you, the kids would not be advancing like they are. You are the BEST!!!

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Seed-ball Workshop

Functional fun provided by Melinda Joy Miller, Feng Shui Master, Shaman, author and great teacher who provided the materials and know-how to create Seed Balls. These little balls were loaded with seeds and ready to be tossed into hard-to-reach locations in need of planting. Look for more programs by Melinda Joy Miller in 2016.

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The Florida Scrub-Jay Trail on the Road

Science Fairs
Science Fairs continue to be an important outreach. This year as we visited schools (or they came to us) we added a working model of the Florida Aquifer to our microscope programs. These educational tools were made possible through The Lake County Water Authority "Drop by Drop" grant program.


The Florida Scrub-Jay Festival
This festival moves around the state each year. This year it was held at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Florida Scrub-Jay Trail operates an outreach booth at the festival as well as sits on the event planning committee. Look for us in 2016 on February 13 at Oscar Scherer State Park, Osprey, FL.


A sampling of events and festivals we participated in:

Lake County Tourism Forum, City of Clermont, FL
Orange City - Blue Springs Manatee Festival, Orange City, FL
NatureFest, Lake Louisa State Park, Clermont, FL
4th Annual Wings and Wildflower Festival, Tavares, FL

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Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation

This year we received over a thousand calls from seven counties regarding injured wildlife. These calls are referred to us by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Sheriff Offices, Animal Control and Police Departments. We then facilitate these calls by referring the injured animal to the nearest veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator. Thanks to you for helping to keep our wildlife wild and alive! And thanks to all the veterinarians and rehabilitators for giving so generously of your time, talent and materials.


New Home for an Injured Gopher Tortoise

FWC presented the Florida Scrub-Jay Consortium with a 30 year old Gopher Tortoise. This tortoise was injured by a vehicle, placed in rehabilitation and since deemed to be un-releasable back into the wild.

We petitioned to give the tortoise a good home and were granted custody. She is an educational tortoise and is currently spending her days in a temporary compound while her permanent home is being constructed by Eagle Scout candidate Karis Houck. She is, as far as Gopher Tortoises go, a really pretty girl.

Feel free to stop by and say hello. Hopefully you will see her grazing when she is out of her burrow.

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Boy Scout News

One of many memorable campouts….. Boy Scout Troop 784 held a weekend campout at the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail. On Saturday they went out into the community to pick up food bags for the Scouting for Food program.
That evening, they conducted a flag retirement ceremony. After going around the neighborhood collecting over 30 flags that were worn out and should no longer be flown, they ceremoniously placed the flags in the campfire and held a ritual program honoring the flag's service. No matter how many times you witness this ceremony, it is always awe inspiring!! What an honor to participate in such a ceremony!

Three Eagle Scout Candidates Complete Projects


Zach's Cabin
Eagle Scout Candidate Zachary Hardy recently put the finishing touches on a rustic camping cabin. Originally designed for the scouts to camp in, however the leaders exercised executive privilege and christened it on the first outing. Such a great addition to camp!


Coming Home to Roost
Eagle Scout Candidate Christain Dewberry completed his project of a handsome chicken coop and yard. This enhances our Future Farmers of America (FFA) curriculum and adds more compost to the Giving Gardens. We are so excited to offer this new farm endeavor to the community.



Informational Kiosk
Matthew Baker
, Eagle Scout Candidate, created an informational kiosk that welcomes you as you enter the path to the Trailhouse. Upcoming events and happenings are posted here.


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Unwanted Visitors

Wild pigs came to visit several times this year, and in the process, tore up much of the Scrub-Jay habitat. These unwelcome guests make a mess of the trails and the gardens. In many ways, however, this turned out to be a benefit, since by ripping out the grass and weeds, they exposed the earth, proving good ground for propagation of wildflowers and areas for the Scrub- Jays to cache their winter acorns. I guess it's all in how you look at it.

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Haunted House and Hayride

Scrub-Jay Trail Volunteer Dahna James held her annual Charity Halloween Haunted House, with all proceeds going to the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail.

This was pretty scary stuff with strange-looking characters running around with chainsaws (no chain, but don't tell the kids) and a haunted house that makes you want to find the door but chainsaw dudes have it blocked.

Thanks to Winn-Dixie and B.J.s. Wholesale Club for your support. A good time for a good cause. Check it out next year if you can. We'll let you know when.

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Lakeside Mothing

The scientific study of moths appears to be gaining in popularity. Recently, a large group of mothers (not "mothers" as in yo momma) assembled by the lake at the Florida Scrub-Jay Trail to practice their science.

Bathed in ultraviolet light, the whole scene seemed to be an out take from Close Encounters. A large silk-like cloth attracted moths and other things once hit with the ultraviolet light on one side and vapor light on the other. Several life-list moths were seen. This program was hosted by Dr. Marc Minno and mothing enthusiast Cheri Pierce. This program will be happening again on February 20. Stay tuned.


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Fundraising Keeps the Scrub-Jay Alive

"A Florida Scrub-Jay at the Trail"
photo: Cline Walters
See more of his photographs in the Gallery

Any time of year is a good time of year for you to contribute to our cause. We are run solely on your memberships andgenerous donations. We are a 100% volunteer organization and no tax payer dollars are received. We are a 501(c)(3) public charity which offers you the opportunity to write off your donation.

Thank you for all of your support! Wishing you and your family a Healthy and Happy 2016!

The Florida Scrub-Jay Trail

For a membership , please complete the application form and return with your payment.
As a member, you will receive the following benefits:
• 10% discount on plants and merchandise at B.B. Brown's Gardens
• Invitation to special events for members only
• 10% discount on workshops held at the Trailhead

The mission of the Florida Scrub-Jay Consortium is to preserve the Florida Scrub-Jay from extinction through preservation, restoration and education. Your support is very important to us and is vital for continuing our mission.

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