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RSW Living Magazine

Kids Free Fridays Kicks Off the Summer at Rookery Bay, Plus More Family-fun Events to Come

Jun 28, 2017 12:53AM ● By Kevin
Kids Free Fridays kicked off its summer 2017 series on June 16. The long-standing event originated 11 years ago as a mini-summer camp for residents and visitors. The weekly event for kids and their parents has followed the same structure every year, according to Sarah Falkowski, education coordinator for Rookery Bay Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples, due to consistent positive feedback. 

"All we need to do is pick new topics each summer!" she said "And, having a food truck on site every Friday ensures no one goes home hungry!"

This year, Kids Free Fridays are offered every Friday through Aug. 4.

In addition, Rookery Bay recently launched the Birds Lecture Series, which is the facility's newest program. Similar to its seasonal Lunch & Learn Lecture Series, the team at Rookery Bay provides food and a speaker from their partners at Audubon.

"It is a great compliment to our popular Beginning Birding and Birds of the Beach instructional workshops," said Falkowski, who oversees three types of programs: school, public, and ecotour. "I started working at Rookery Bay Research Reserve back in 2005, so I’ve had the opportunity to develop a lot of new programs over the years."

Another new program kicking off in July is Science Saturdays, which will be held the last Saturday of every month (normally closed to the public on weekends). Themes and topics include plankton, shark research and even sea beans.

"One of these Saturdays includes our annual signature event, National Estuaries Day, on the last Saturday in September," Falkowski said. "This is the one day a year when we offer guided boat tours, kayak tours, lab tours and more, all free of charge on a first-come/first-served basis. Special VIP passes are also available for purchase by anyone who doesn’t want to wait in line."

Finally, Falkowski said they recently unveiled their brand-new, Estuary Encounter interactive marine life exhibit in the visitor center, which is filled with conchs, whelks, crabs and other species.

Get Involved!

Rookery Bay has a staff of 35, but staffers are always looking for volunteer help. The volunteer program engages hundreds of individuals, Falkowski said, who collectively donate as many as 18,000 hours annually.

Current openings can be found at