visitors and interns with bird specimesn on darwin dayPhoto by: Dustin Angell

Archbold Re-Opens to the Public

Author: Michaela Herron

March 1, 2023

Archbold Biological Station re-opened its gates to the public this past January. The first visitors to the Station were Johnny Baakpiny and Dona Khneisser, graduate students from the University of Illinois. The two were interested in learning about the landscape and wildlife of the Lake Wales Ridge, particularly Eastern Indigo Snakes. When asked about their experience, they stated that they felt “privileged to be Archbold’s first visitors.”

Archbold Biological Station is dedicated to scientific research, conservation, and environmental education. Scientists study the Florida Scrub, a unique ecosystem with species found nowhere else in the world. Staff study plants and animals including Scrub Mint, Florida Scrub-Jays, Gopher Tortoises, and Black bears.

Archbold is now open to everyone, Thursday through Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm. Visitors can walk trails, watch videos in the Frances Archbold Hufty Learning Center, and view the historic buildings on the campus. Archbold has also started hosting events for the public, and recently hosted Darwin Day. Visitors were able to view a collection of animal and plant specimens, and speak with scientists about their work. Cecilia Luaces, a volunteer at Archbold, assisted with the event. "A lot of people came,” she said. “The research facilities were open to the public, which is such a treat. It's such a good mission." 

Additional events are scheduled for the next few months. These include a swamp buggy tour of Buck Island Ranch (March 17th, 1-3 pm); a plant collection demonstration (March 18th, 10-11 am); a talk on Florida Scrub-Jays (March 19th, 1:30-2:30 pm); and two guided ecology hikes (March 25th, 9-11 am and April 22nd, 9-11 am). More information can be found on Archbold's website and social media.

Michaela Herron, Environmental Education Intern, has been working at the Station for three months. "I am really looking forward to the upcoming events," she says. "Every time visitors come, I get excited. They fill the campus with life! Furthermore, these events will be a great learning opportunity for the community. In my experience, the more people learn about the Scrub, the more they grow to appreciate it."

In addition to welcoming visitors, Archbold continues to welcome volunteers as well. The Station needs help with various tasks, including checking in guests and assisting with landscape management. “If you would like to help us, please call our Volunteer Coordinator, Alice, at (863) 273-2166,” says Linda Gette, a long-term volunteer. “We are so excited to welcome the public back.”

Photo caption: Visitors and research interns viewing specimens in the Avian Ecology lab on Darwin Day. Photo by Dustin Angell.