Welcome to the Conservancy Environmental Education blog!

Briggs Boardwalk and Beautyberries


My name is Nicki Dardinger, and I am the director of education here at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

Together with an amazing team of professional naturalists, interns, and volunteers, we provide environmental education programs to over 10,000 school children each year and impact over 25,000 visitors to the Conservancy Nature Center with programs focused on taking action to protect Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

We love our work, and we are especially excited to launch our new blog! We plan to share cool facts about nature, stories about our ambassador wildlife, and why it’s so important to teach children about STEM and the environment.

Briggs Boardwalk

View of scrub habitat from Briggs Boardwalk

We thought we’d start by venturing out to Briggs Boardwalk, the site of the Conservancy’s first nature center located on Shell Island Road.

American Beautyberry

One of my favorite plants, American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), is currently living up to its name (even its scientific name means beautiful fruit (Kalli = beautiful and karpos = fruit)).

Beautyberry spotted along Briggs Boardwalk

But this plant is much more than a pretty face! Beautyberry’s purple berries are an important food source for numerous species of birds and mammals.

And historically, Native Americans used all parts of the plant for different medicinal purposes, including as an insect repellent and a treatment for a variety of ailments.

For all of the gardeners out there, beautyberry is a native plant here in southwest Florida, and it is drought resistant — making it a perfect addition to landscaping projects.

Beautyberry is common in the coastal areas of southwest Florida — keep an eye out for it in scrub lands and along forest edges!

Thank you for joining us on our nature blogging adventure!

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