Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pelican Island Wildlife Festival is a very special time for us as a family. When I left a twenty-five year career in public policy behind in my native Illinois, and TR Joe and the Teddy Roosevelt Tour first became a reality, it was mid-February 2008. During the second week of March, my wife Jenny was playing golf in the Florida Women’s Open Tournament. I was her caddy and Sam her loyal fan.

We were rv camping somewhere nearby Tampa in a nice state park. The barred owls and
sandhill cranes abounded, as did the ibis, the egret and the heron along the way. And the pelican.

My research all pointed to Pelican Island as the next stop for the TR Tour. When I called the Wildlife Service office in Vero Beach, I reached Ranger Joanna Webb and she was so nice to
invite my family to come and play a role in the Wildlife Festival planned that very next weekend.

From that first visit on, through the following years, the kindness and hospitality we received at Pelican Island characterizes just the sort of thing we try to pass on to others. At the
Pelican Island Wildlife Festival in Sebastian’s City Park, we celebrate the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt’s first federal bird sanctuary, declared in March of 1903.

The bird and reptile programs, repeated throughout the day, are always informative and entertaining, with the stars kids just love to touch and stare at. Exhibitors sell all sorts of fun
Florida items, many of them organic or nature based. Rehabilitated pelicans are returned to the wild, kayaks are paddled and yummy foods eaten. Music and dancing have been known to occur. Public servants share their conservation message. It's always a great day.

Mostly, the volunteers of the Pelican Island Preservation Society and the rangers and staff of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service get together to spend more than a day of hard work hosting one of the nation’s most wonderful celebrations of Teddy Roosevelt’s conservation legacy.

Bully for PIPS. Hope to see you on Saturday, March 17, 2012, in Sebastian, Florida.