FWC celebrates Gopher Tortoise Day
gopher tortoise

Information and Photo Provided
By Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Published April 11, 2024 at 5 p.m.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) celebrated Gopher Tortoise Day on April 10. 

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     Following are some tips to help gopher tortoises all year long:
     ● If a tortoise appears healthy and is not in immediate danger, leaving the tortoise alone is the best option.
     ● If you see a gopher tortoise crossing a road and it is safe for you to do so, you may pick it up and place it in a safe location along the roadside in the direction it was heading. Never put tortoises in water, as gopher tortoises can’t swim like turtles can.
     ● Report sightings of gopher tortoises and their burrows or notify the FWC of a sick, injured or dead tortoise.
     ● Consider making your home and neighborhood gopher tortoise friendly by planting gopher tortoise friendly plants or creating a 
     Gopher tortoises are designated as a threatened species and protected in Florida. It is illegal to harm a gopher tortoise, its eggs or its burrow, to relocate without a permit, or to possess a tortoise, its eggs, or any parts of a tortoise.
     Report wildlife violations to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
     Gopher Tortoise Day was adopted in 2016 by the Gopher Tortoise Council to increase appreciation and conservation support of the species. The FWC and partners celebrate on April 10 each year.

Rotary Club’s fishing tournament
is a huge success

Seen here at the Calcutta and Captain's Dinner (from left) are Brian Jackson, and Rotarians Shelby Jackson, Ryan Clemons and Dana Nicholson.

Story and Photos Submitted
By Holly Creel, Rotarian
Published April 11, 2024 at 4 p.m.
The Rotary Club of Gilchrist County held its 16th Annual Fishing Tournament this last weekend (April 5 and 6), launching boats out of the community of Suwannee in Dixie County.
     This fun and competitive event raises money for the youth of Gilchrist County - the main objective for this club.
     This tournament offers both saltwater (inshore for redfish and trout) and freshwater (bass) fishing opportunities.
     The Captain's Dinner and Calcutta were held on Friday night (April 5) at the Salt Creek Restaurant in the Community of Suwannee, which is an unincorporated community in Dixie County.
     More than 125 anglers and supporters dined on a delicious dinner of fried fish and shrimp, cheese grits, baked beans, coleslaw and hush puppies. Then Allen Clark of Suwannee Marina began the bidding. Attendees bid on their favorite boats to catch the most fish the following day.
     Bidding on results in the tournament is known as the Calcutta, and it results in cash awards presented to winners who bid on the winners in the tournament.

Inshore winners Josh Fleming, John Cason and Greg Fleming

Allen Clark of Suwannee Marina (left) and Rotarian Damon Leggett. Suwannee Marina was among the sponsors.

Bass winners Brandon Williams (holds a bass) and (not pictured) Deryl Williams

     On Saturday morning (April 6) at first light, the anglers headed out (after dining on a buffet breakfast provided by Suwannee Marina) for a day of fishing.
     Greg and Josh Fleming and John Cason won the grand prize of $1,500 for a total bag of 14.02 pounds of fish in the saltwater-inshore division. Deryl and Brandon Williams won the grand prize of $1,500 for 10.01 pounds of bass in the freshwater division.
     The Rotary Club of Gilchrist County notes its appreciation to all of the sponsors, anglers and spectators for another great year of fun, fishing and fundraising.


Lions Club conducts
13th Annual Nature Coast Challenge

Nature Coast Challenge
Shown here on Friday night (April 5) are (from left) Tommy Sholes, Rob Kubistek and Lions President Jim Allen. Sholes holds the distinction of being the only person who has been entered in every single Nature Coast Challenge (13 years). And this year he won a prize -- Third Place in the Redfish category. 

Story and Photos
By Peter Weiss, Lion, and Ace Reporter For HardisonInk.com
© April 9, 2024 at 4:15 p.m.
Every year for more than a decade now, in early April, the Inglis/Yankeetown Lions Club hosts its second biggest fundraiser of the year - a Kayak “Catch, Photo, and Release” Fishing Tournament.
     The date is picked for the Nature Coast Challenge (NCC) in advance based on Tide Charts for the best conditions. This year it was Saturday, April 6. This year about 50 anglers participated.
     Although the main event is Saturday, the festivities begin the night before. Anglers check in and receive their “Goody Bags,” which included 2024 NCC shirts. These shirts are covered with the logos of sponsors whose donations helped the cause.
     This year HardisonInk.com was one of those sponsors.

Nature Coast Challenge
Mike Dunning checks in. He had a remarkable weekend, placing in every category, including First Place in Grand Slam.

Nature Coast Challenge
Team Gibson composed of (from left) Glen Gibson, Ray Cooper and Scott Gibson check in on Friday. The next day Glen Gibson won the Redfish division.

Nature Coast Challenge
Anglers line up Friday night for the delicious fish dinner.

Nature Coast Challenge
Although officially a Kayak Tournament, the rules allow any non-motorized boat to be used. That's Tom Oates and his two sons, Thomas and William in the canoe. Thomas went on to win Third Place in the Mixed Bag Division.

Nature Coast Challenge
Anglers pick their favorite spot. In this case, one is watched suspiciously by a local bird (at upper right in photo).

Nature Coast Challenge
An unidentified floating kayaker (UFK) is noticed in all his glory. UFKs are also known as UWVs (Unknown Waterborne Vessels) now, by the way.

     After check-in, everyone is treated to a fried fish dinner along with all the “fixins” at this fish dinner before the tournament, Those very fixings (baked beans and coleslaw) this year were provided by a generous donation from Melissa and Josh McCall of Sonny's Barbeque in Inverness!
     Finally, the Rules are read and safety information is provided. The NCC provides a “Safety Boat” - captained this year by Dave Pisano - which patrols the waters in case anyone is in need of assistance.
     Fish are caught and the photographed against an official Token and a measuring device, and then the fish are released. The anglers compete for cash prizes: First, Second and Third in three categories: Redfish, Bass, and Mixed Bag -- as well as a special “Grand Slam” prize.
     The stated goal of the Lions is the Prevention of Blindness. Additionally, Lions use the money raised to help many different people, who are in need in the community.


CAAA Ball Season Opens
With Good Sportsmanship

CAAA Opener
This is the end of the game on Saturday (April 4), the first baseball game of the regular season for the team of youngsters from Chiefland sponsored by Dairy Queen and the team from Gilchrist County sponsored by Osteen Farms. The players, coaches and staff from the two teams are seen as they congratulate each other for a game well played. Throughout the competition, coaches, players, support staff and all of the fans from both teams all exhibited good sportsmanship as they played on, and watched the action on, Field 3 at Charles Strickland Recreational Park in Chiefland. There were many other softball, tee-ball and baseball games as well as an opening ceremony that morning by the Chiefland Area Athletic Association. Click on the PHOTO to see the video.
Video By Jeff M. Hardison, All Copyrights Reserved © April 6, 2024 at 5 p.m.


Museum of art presents
abstract fiber art show

Charlita Rae Whitehead, “Blush,” 2023, 14 x 23 x 3/4 in.

Charlita Rae Whitehead, detail of “Current State,” 2023, 33 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 3/4 in.

Information and Art Provided By CF Marketing and Public Relations
Published April 6, 2024 at 8 a.m.
     OCALA —
The Appleton Museum of Art, College of Central Florida, presents “Every Fiber of My Being,” featuring abstract fiber art by Charlita Rae Whitehead. The exhibition will be on view in the second-floor Preview Gallery from April 13 to Sept. 8.

     The history of making rugs goes back thousands of years and has been an important part of many cultures and traditions around the globe. Through the artist’s lens, the lineage of rug making is both celebrated and reinterpreted, honoring the resilience and ingenuity of generations past.
     Whitehead, a self-taught artist, has been working in the tufting medium since 2022. Tufting is an electric version of punch needle embroidery, which uses a long, hollow needle with a beveled point to push yarn through material to form a continuous loop stitch. In addition to tufting, the artist uses a variety of tools and materials to create her dreamy yet expressive tapestries, incorporating traditional punch needle methods, different types of yarn and varying pile heights to create topographical hills and valleys.
     In “Every Fiber of My Being,” Whitehead portrays each piece as “a milestone along the path of discovery,” inviting viewers to engage with an age-old art form through innovative techniques and concepts. Delve into the captivating realm of bold color combinations, expressive curves, distinctive shapes and enchanting textures, where the opportunity to become immersed awaits. Every fiber embodies the artist’s evolving experience and every thread tells a story.

About the Artist
     Charlita Rae Whitehead is a self-taught abstract fiber artist based in Ocala, Florida. Being born in Japan and growing up in multiple national and international communities profoundly shaped Whitehead’s world view and aesthetic, igniting her passion for culture, community, inclusivity and liberation. She earned degrees in Health Information Management and Health Services Administration from the College of Central Florida and the University of Central Florida. Whitehead has exhibited at Shapot Art Gallery, Brick City Center for the Arts and the College of Central Florida Webber Gallery.
     Regular museum admission fees apply to visit. Admission is free on the first Saturday of each month as part of the Free First Saturday program.
     The Appleton Museum, Artspace and Store are open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. A campus of the College of Central Florida, the Appleton Museum of Art is located at 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, east of downtown on SR 40 (exit 352 east off I-75 or exit 268 west off I-95). Parking is free. For more information, call 352-291-4455 or visit AppletonMuseum.org.


Passport processing starts
in Levy County on April 4

By Jeff M. Hardison © April 3, 2024 at 2:30 p.m.
     BRONSON --
Levy County Tax Collector Michele Langford announced in a press release on April 3 that the Levy County Tax Collector’s Office will be processing passports starting April 4.
     “At this time, we will only be able to process applications for new passports,” Tax Collector Langford said.
     She explained that this means the people who her office can help are those folks who has never held a passport, or who have a passport currently that has been expired for a certain period of time.
     “Currently, we cannot submit renewal applications,” Langford said. “These must be done by mail or online by clicking HERE. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html. 
     Once the Levy County Tax Collector’s Office goes through a trial period with the United States Department of State, then it potentially will be able to assume the duties to process more than new passports.
     “We will have a section on our website very soon,” Langford said. “It will have details on how to obtain a passport and what is needed for you to apply. It will also include Q&A’s for frequently asked questions. If you have questions now, please submit them to levytaxcollector@levytaxcollector.com”
     Passports will be by appointment only, she said. There will be no walk-in passport customers seen.
     “If you wish to make an appointment, please call 352-486-5172 and you will be directed to the passport department in our office,” Langford said.
     Individuals may also send an email to request an appointment. levytaxcollector@levytaxcollector.com.
     “This venture has been a long time coming,” she said. “There were a lot of steps and requirements that had to be met, but we managed to meet them all and completed all the necessary courses. There are only three staff members in the office certified to submit these to the (United States) Department of State. They are Chloe, who will be the passport manager, Barbara and myself.”


CF Ira Holmes International Film Series
to screen
‘Lunana: A Yak In The Classroom’
Screenings on April 9

Information and Graphic Provided
By CF Marketing and Public Relations
Published March 27, 2024 at10:30 p.m.
     OCALA —
The College of Central Florida Ira Holmes International Film Series will complete its season Tuesday, April 9, with the award-winning film “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom.”
     Directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, this 2019 film from Bhutan, South Asia, outlines the endearing story of a young, disillusioned schoolteacher who is transferred to the most remote school in the world, cut off from modern life deep in the Himalayan glaciers. In a classroom with no electricity or even a blackboard, he finds himself with only a yak and a song that echoes through the mountains.
     A screening of the film will begin at 2 p.m. at the Appleton Museum of Art, 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd., and is free to all museum and film series members; nonmembers pay museum admission.
     A second screening will begin at 7 p.m. at the CF Ocala Campus, 3001 S.W. College Road, Building 8, Room 110. The screening at the CF Ocala Campus is free and open to the public.


Party in Inglis is ‘Egg-Streme’
Pat Tully, AmVets District 11 Commander (on left) started off the festivities with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Beside her was Veronica Reardon, chairperson of the Inglis City Commission.


Story and Photos
By Peter Weiss © March 24, 2024 at 5 p.m.
     INGLIS --
The “Egg-Streme Easter Party” was hosted by the AmVets Post 447 of Inglis on Saturday (March 23) at the Inglis Little League Park.

     AmVets Auxiliary 447 President Sheryl Pizer led the effort to bring it all to fruition.
     The event featured fun and games for all ages but was directed at the “younger crowd.”
     Food and inflatable games were provided at no charge by the AmVets, too, for all who attended. Additionally, the Inglis Yankeetown Lions Club and the Masons offered popcorn and snow-cones. The Easter Bunny himself made an appearance and was available for photo-ops with the kids.

Easter goody baskets went to winners of the various Easter egg hunts.

Inglis Yankeetown Lions Club President Jim Allen prepares a batch of popcorn.

Members of the Inglis Yankeetown Masons prepare and give away many snow cones - a popular item on a warm day.

Kids make a splash on one of the water slide bounce houses.

Children pose with the star of the show: The Easter Bunny.

Children of the youngest age bracket hunt for Easter Eggs.

     There were Easter egg hunts divided up between different age groups so that the older kids had no advantage over the younger children. A DJ provided Easter music featuring such classics as “Peter Cotten Tail,” “In Your Easter Bonnet,” and many others.


Go slow, look out below
for manatees this spring

Manatees are seen near the shore.

Story and Photos Provided
By Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Published March 22, 2024 at 9:30 a.m.
Watching for manatees while boating is always important.
     Spring is a particularly important season for boaters to go slow and lookout below for the slow-moving mammals as they naturally disperse from their winter refuges.
     Manatees overwinter in Florida springs, power plant discharges and other warm-water sites, relying on water that is warmer than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. As spring brings warmer temperatures, manatees gradually disperse from their winter habitats and are more likely to be in rivers, canals and nearshore waters.
     Although adult manatees are large, spotting them in the water can be challenging. Going slow and looking out below helps boaters and personal watercraft users better spot manatees that might be in the area. People on the water can help manatees by wearing polarized glasses, following all manatee protection zones, keeping an eye out for visible snouts or manatee “footprints” — large circles on the water that are indicators that manatees are below the surface, and always giving manatees space.

Manatees underwater cause surface action on top of the water.

A manatee sticks its nostrils into the air to take a breath of air.

     From April 1 through Nov. 15, seasonal manatee zones require boaters to slow down in certain areas to prevent manatees from being injured or killed by motorboats or personal watercrafts. Boat strikes continue to be a major threat to Florida manatees.
     Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement officers patrol state waters to inform boaters of the seasonal manatee speed zones and take appropriate enforcement actions. Boaters are reminded to abide by the regulatory signs they see on the water. Manatee protection zones are marked by waterway signs and maps of manatee protection zones are available online at MyFWC.com/Manatee (https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/manatee/?redirect=manatee) by clicking on “Data and Maps.”
     As a reminder, manatees are a protected species and it is illegal to feed, harass or harm them. Physically handling a distressed or stranded manatee can cause additional harm to the manatee and could put you at risk of serious injury.
     Instead, report injured, distressed, orphaned, sick or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) so trained responders can assist.


CF Appleton Museum announces
2024 Summer Art Camp schedule

Art Camp
Children ages 5 years old to 17 years old enjoy art projects and activities at a previous Appleton’s Summer Art Camp.

Story and Photos Provided
By Billye Mallory | College of Central Florida                                
Manager of Marketing and Public Relations
Published March 20, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.
     OCALA --
There’s no better place to have a creative, art-filled summer than at the Appleton Museum of Art, College of Central Florida.
     Discover the work of renowned artists, experiment with a variety of materials and try out new techniques to create masterpieces.
      “The Appleton Summer Art Camp program offers a robust schedule of one- and two-week, half-day camps for ages 5-17,” said Appleton Assistant Director Victoria Billig. “Led by professional art educators and teaching artists, campers will participate in themed projects that are inspired by the museum’s very own world-class permanent collection.”
     Summer Art Camp is appropriate for all skill levels. Register now at AppletonMuseum.org. Spaces fill quickly. Discounts are available for current Appleton members at the Family/Dual Level or above. For questions about Summer Art Camp, contact AppletonEducation@cf.edu.

Art Camp

Art Camp

Art Camp
Children ages 5 years old to 17 years old enjoy art projects and activities at a previous Appleton’s Summer Art Camp.

2024 Summer Art Camp Schedule
June 3-7
Meet the Artists (Ages 5-7), 9 a.m.-noon
     One week, so many artists! Through art and stories, learn about a different artist each day, making treasured masterpieces with a variety of materials. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Ruth Dexheimer
Around the World (Ages 8-12), 9 a.m.-noon
     You won’t need a passport for this global exploration of art inspired by people and cultures from around the world. The Appleton’s special exhibition, “Across the Threshold of India: Photographs by Martha Strawn,” and pieces from the permanent collection will provide inspiration for fun and fascinating artmaking. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Michele Yeuell
Sketch It (Ages 8-12), 1-4 p.m.
     Love to draw and want to learn more? Learn about using color, perspective, shading and realism to make drawings come alive. Explore different materials while expanding your drawing abilities. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Maritza Jauregui-Rodriguez

June 10-14
Shapin’ Up (Ages 5-7), 9 a.m.-noon
     Be a shape detective to gather facts and evidence of how shapes are used in art. Then, create your own shape sensations! $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Kio Weber-Lee
Creatures from the Florida Springs (Ages 8-12), 9 a.m.-noon
What creatures lurk in Florida’s springs and swamps? Create artwork that captures the wonderous wildlife that call Florida home. You’ll be inspired after viewing the Appleton’s special exhibition, “Springs and Swamps,” a collection of photographs by Karen Glaser. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Michelle Wetz
Architecture FUNdamentals (Ages 8-12), 1-4 p.m.
     What does an architect do? Learn about design, creativity and problem solving through FUN drawing and painting projects. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Michele Yeuell
3D Creations (Ages 13-17), 1-4 p.m.
     Create original sculptures using plaster and wood, learning to build out your ideas in three dimensions. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: E. Marie Fielding

June 17-21
Time Travelers (Ages 5-7), 9 a.m.-noon
     Dinosaurs, pyramids, aliens, oh my! Embark on an adventure as a time-traveling artist and use a variety of materials to create imaginative works of art. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Kio Weber-Lee
Eco Art (Ages 8-12), 9 a.m.-noon
     Use your imagination to create art pieces with natural and recycled materials. Combined with recyclables, use supplies like sand, clay and other natural items to create your own eco-friendly masterpieces! $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers. Instructor: E. Marie Fielding
Jewelry and Design (Ages 8-12), 1-4 p.m.
     Turn your own art into a wearable statement piece. This week we’ll guide you through the exciting process of designing and creating one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Maritzabel Jauregui-Rodriguez
Skulls and Skeletons (Ages 13-17), 1-4 p.m.
     Practice your observational drawing skills using a variety of skeletons for reference. Learn about light and shadow, shapes and relationships, and the basic drawing skills that are essential to every work of art. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Lisa Russo

June 24-28
Farm to Art, at CF Vintage Farm (Ages 8-12), 9 a.m.-noon
     Let your art be inspired by the horses, cows and chickens at this very special art camp at CF Vintage Farm, located on County Road 475. Paint and sketch outside under a majestic oak, plus indoor studio time in Vintage Farm’s indoor classrooms. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers
Instructor: Jeanne Baines

July 8-12
Storybook Art (Ages 5-7), 9 a.m.-noon
     Stories are as timeless as the artwork they inspire. In this enchanting class you’ll bring stories to life. Let your imagination soar as you create with an array of art materials and techniques. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Vanessa Zumba Gonzalez
Critter Mania (Ages 8-12), 9 a.m.-noon
     Our planet is filled with so many unique creatures. In this critter-filled camp, celebrate this biodiversity through clay, paint and drawing materials. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Jeanne Baines
Brick Art (Ages 8-12), 1-4 p.m.
     Discover new ways to use plastic building bricks. Explore texture, structure and design as you transform simple plastic bricks into creative constructions. The possibilities are endless! $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Jeanne Baines

July 8-19 (Two-Week Camp)
Dig into Clay (Ages 8-12), 1-4 p.m.
     In this two-week camp, learn the basics of hand building with clay and the art of glazing. $280 Appleton members; $320 nonmembers.
Instructor: Jamie Roche

July 15-19
Celebrate the Seasons (Ages 5-7), 9 a.m.-noon
     Winter, spring, summer and fall — all in one week! Use a variety of materials to create works of art inspired by the wonders of each season. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Ashley Condie
Bird is the Word (Ages 8-12), 9 a.m.-noon
     Let your imagination soar to new heights! Visit the Appleton’s special exhibition, “Outsider Aviary: Robert W. Smeltzer’s Birds of America,” and use these unique bird sculptures as your inspiration for making amazing art of your own. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Elisa Adelman-Rodriguez
Plein Air Painting (Ages 13-17), 1-4 p.m.
     Leave the classroom behind and use the Appleton’s beautiful, shady grounds as your painting studio. We’ll take portable easels and paints outside to practice your painting skills “en plein air,” or, in the open air. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Jordan Shapot

July 22-26
Groovy and Glowing (Ages 5-7), 9 a.m.-noon
     It’s hip and happening at the Appleton this week. Make art that’s super cool and even glows in the dark. Don’t miss the fun! $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Ashley Condie
Nautical Navigators (Ages 8-12), 9 a.m.-noon
     What would it have been like to sail the high seas? Draw inspiration from the Appleton’s collection of maritime art this week for an adventure inspired by tall ships and majestic waves. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Elisa Adelman-Rodriguez
Funky Sculpture (Ages 8-12), 1-4 p.m.
     Do you like to build things? You’ll be working with an assortment of fun and unconventional materials this week to make sculptures. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: E. Marie Fielding

July 29-Aug. 2
Color Wonderful (Ages 5-7), 9 a.m.-noon
     Explore and celebrate all the colors of the rainbow this week, from shades and tints to primary and secondary colors. Use a variety of media to create your own colorful world. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Sara Janelle
Superheroes (Ages 8-12), 9 a.m.-noon
What’s your super power? Unleash it to explore the world of superheroes, anime, comics and fantasy figures through art and design. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers. Instructor:
Vanessa Zumba-Gonzalez
Art, Music and Movement (Ages 8-12), 1-4 p.m.
     Have you ever listened to music and felt inspired to do something creative? This week you’ll discover how easily art, music and movement relate to each other while creating unique works of art. $140 Appleton members; $160 nonmembers.
Instructor: Kim Harac


Sea turtle nesting season
arrives along Florida’s coasts

Sea Turtle

Story and Photo Provided
Published March 18, 2024 at 9 p.m.
By Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is sharing the reminder that sea turtles are starting to nest on our beaches.
     Residents and visitors can play a big part in helping to protect vulnerable nesting sea turtles this spring and summer while visiting Florida’s coastal habitats.
     Because our state’s shorelines provide important nesting habitat for several species of threatened and endangered sea turtles, beachgoers can have a significant impact on their nesting success. To help nesting sea turtles, people can take easy steps to protect them, including giving them space, minimizing disturbances and keeping beaches clean and dark.
     Clear the way at the end of the day: Female sea turtles expend large amounts of energy crawling out of the surf and far enough up the sand in order to dig and lay nests in spots that are less vulnerable to the tides. Obstacles on the beach can entrap and prevent them from nesting as they crawl across the sand to lay their eggs.
     Trash, holes in the sand and other obstacles can also prevent sea turtle hatchlings from reaching the water once they emerge from their nests. Food scraps attract predators, such as raccoons and crows, that prey on sea turtle hatchlings. Litter on beaches can entangle sea turtles, birds and other wildlife.
     What can you do to help? Properly stash or recycle all trash, fill in human-made holes in the sand, and remove all beach toys, gear and furniture from the sand before sunset. Fishing line can be deadly to sea turtles, waterbirds and other wildlife, so be sure to dispose of it properly.
     Lights out: Any lighting can misdirect and disturb nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, leading them away from the ocean and toward potential danger. To prevent this, beachgoers should use natural starlight to see when on the beach at night and avoid using flashlights or cellphones. Anyone living along or visiting Florida beaches can do their part by putting porch, parking or deck lights out and closing curtains after dark to avoid disorienting nesting and hatchling sea turtles on the beach. If lighting could still be visible from the beach, be sure it is long, low and shielded. 
     Admire from afar: While it can be exciting to witness sea turtles on the beach, getting too close (50 feet or less) to nesting sea turtles can cause them to leave the beach before they complete the nesting process. If an animal changes their behavior, you’re likely too close. Remember – it is illegal to harm or disturb nesting sea turtles, their nests and eggs, or to pick up hatchlings.  
     Sea turtles typically return to nest in March along Florida’s southeast Atlantic coast from Brevard County south to Broward County, while nesting begins on Gulf Coast or north Florida beaches in April or May.


CF presents
‘The 2024 CF Student Art Exhibition’
March 25-April 30

CF student art 2023
‘But You Don’t Look Sick’ by Gracie White, Best of Show from ‘The 2023 Student Art Exhibition.’

Story and Photo Provided
By CF Marketing and Public Relations
Published Jan. 30, 2024 at 4:30 p.m.
     OCALA —
The College of Central Florida presents “The 2024 CF Student Art Exhibition,” an annual event showcasing the talents of students from its Visual Arts and Digital Media programs.

     The exhibition will be on display Monday, March 25-Tuesday, April 30 at the CF Webber Gallery, 3001 S.W. College Road at the CF Ocala Campus.
     The exhibition provides a platform for students to display their work in a professional environment and highlights the variety of artistic expressions and dynamic skill sets of CF students.
     Esteemed artist and conceptual bookbinder Jacob Z. Wan will judge the exhibition.
     Wan, known for his internationally collected mixed-media books, holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Central Florida and currently teaches at the University of North Florida. His work has gained significant acclaim including exhibits in Germany, China, the Florida Biennial and the International Book Art Exhibition in New York.
     An opening reception and awards ceremony will be held Wednesday, March 27, at 12:30 p.m. in the Webber Center, adjacent to the gallery.
     Awards include Best in Show, first through third place, honorable mentions and purchase awards. Notably, the People’s Choice Purchase Award, voted on by the CF student body, will see one student’s work added to CF’s permanent art collection.
     Wan is scheduled to deliver an artist talk on Monday, April 8, 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the gallery, sharing insights into his artistic practice and discussing the UNF Visual Arts Program.
     The Webber Gallery is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. For further information about the exhibition, visit CF.edu/Webber or call 352-854-2322, ext. 1664.


CF Appleton Museum of Art
Presents Audubon-inspired
sculptures in ‘Outsider Aviary’
On View Through Aug. 4

Robert W. Smeltzer’s annotated copy of “Birds of America” on display alongside several sculptures and his carving tools.

Information and Photos Provided
By CF Manager of Marketing and Public Relations Billye 
Published Feb. 8, 2024 at 12 p.m.
     OCALA --
The Appleton Museum of Art, College of Central Florida, presents “Outsider Aviary: Robert W. Smeltzer’s Birds of America,” on view through Aug. 4. 
     Many individuals are familiar with the Appleton Museum of Art’s 19th century European collection and the exquisite pre-Columbian objects, but visitors can now appreciate a lesser-known part of the world-class permanent collection that celebrates a Florida artist and veteran.
     “Outsider Aviary” features a selection of hand-carved birds by Robert W. Smeltzer (1906-1997), all inspired by John James Audubon’s (1785-1851) “Birds of America.”

Robert W. Smeltzer’s “White-Crowned Pigeon” carving paired with John James Audubon’s “White-Crowned Pigeon” print in the background.

     After serving in the United States military and working as an electrical engineer, Smeltzer began his artistic hobby in 1966. This came after he discovered Audubon’s renowned tome of bird illustrations, “Birds of America.” Smeltzer then spent more than two decades creating 242 bird carvings, along with a handful of snakes, each sculpture reproducing the colors and markings of their real-life counterparts.
     Smeltzer crafted each piece using an array of woods including mahogany, cypress, cedar and redwood.
     “Notably, he never purchased any wood for his creations,” said Appleton intern Luke Craig, who provided research on the artist and helped organize the show. “The materials were either gifted to him by friends or sourced through scavenging.”
     These carved creatures, rendered in an endearingly crude and expressive style, signal Smeltzer’s status as an outsider artist. His unorthodox approach, unburdened by formal training, yielded art that is both imaginative and deeply personal. In his own words, “I take scraps and leftovers and make birds out of them.”
     This resourcefulness and ingenuity underscore the essence of Smeltzer’s art. His unshackled creativity, coupled with his lack of a formal art education, impart a slightly primitive appearance to his carvings.
     As Smeltzer once expressed, “The birds are not meant to be pretty, but instructive.”
     In 1993, Smeltzer gifted his complete collection of carved birds to the Appleton Museum of Art. On view alongside 36 of his sculptures are the tools that shaped them and his well-worn copy of “Birds of America,” marked with handwritten margin notes that attest to the depth of his study. Several Audubon prints from the Appleton’s collection are paired with their corresponding carvings.
     “Bird lovers and art appreciators alike will very much enjoy Smeltzer’s whimsy and attention to detail,” said Appleton Assistant Director Victoria Billig. “We’re pleased to display this donation to the collection, which you can find ‘nesting’ in the first-floor Preview Gallery.”
     Regular admission fees apply to visit. Admission is free on the first Saturday of each month as part of the Free First Saturday program.
     The Appleton Museum, Artspace and Store are open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. A campus of the College of Central Florida, the Appleton Museum of Art is located at 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, east of downtown on State Road 40 (exit 352 east off Interstate-75).
     Parking is free. For more information, call 352-291-4455 or visit https://www.appletonmuseum.org/.



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