Florida Wildflower Photography Workshop: Taking Great Photos of Natural Beauty 

Thursday, 8:30am - 11:00am at Lake Kissimmee State Park

We will meet at the Lake Kissimmee State Park entrance (14248 Camp Mack Rd, Lake Wales, FL 33898) and carpool to a location with seating for a 15-20-minute presentation on wildflower photography basics.  We will then carpool to multiple locations within the park where wildflowers should be blooming.  Vince will scout the property with the assistance of State Park staff to find the best locations for seasonal wildflowers.

Instructor:  Vince Lamb is a former chairman of the Florida Wildflower Foundation as well as a Florida Master Naturalist.  He has led numerous photography classes and workshops featuring wildflowers and other natural subjects.  

What to bring with you:  a camera or maybe just a smartphone.

An Introduction to Plant Identification

Thursday, 1:30pm - 3:00pm

Join James Stevenson, Extension Specialist in Pinellas County, to examine the basics of plant identification, from using simple keys to identifying critical characteristics that will help any would-be botanist in the field.  An emphasis will be placed on flowering plants, but ferns will be included as well.  Registration is required and all materials will be provided.

Instructor:  James Stevenson is an Extension Specialist with the University of Florida IFAS Extension Services in Pinellas County.  He works out of the Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center in Tarpon Springs.  James teaches classes on a variety of natural resource conservation topics, including:  plant identification, botany, entomology, ecology and particular groups of native plants such as ferns, wetland wildflowers and epiphytes.  Exploring the natural world has been James’ passion since he was a child growing up in Clearwater.  After graduating from Clearwater High, James went on to get his Bachelor’s degree in Plant Ecology from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN.  From there he found himself working in botanical gardens around the world; from North Carolina to England, Germany, Israel and Spain.  Before returning to Florida in 2006, James had spent a decade in the UK, working on his advanced degree at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and as the Assistant Curator at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden.  James doesn’t really understand gardening in Florida, so he now grows orchids and watches birds.

What to bring with you:  Paper, pencil, and a hand lens if you have one.

Nature Journaling “On and Off the Trail"

Thursday, 9:00am - 3:00pm

Learn to relate to nature through “Deep Looking” – a mixture of close observation and sketching.

Sketching is a form of visual note taking and an invaluable skill not only for artists, but also naturalists observing the world around them. Field sketches are simple drawings done while on location, and either used a reference for more detailed renderings later, or drawn in a field journal used to document sightings and identify specimens.

What we will learn and experience:

  • Discover details of Florida’s ecosystems by learning to focus and sharpen observational skills by “Deep Looking” - using drawing as a method to look closely at an object with the goal of seeing things that otherwise would be overlooked.
  • Learn simple drawing techniques that will help with the journaling process. Drawing is a skill that can be learned by anyone. The goal of the journal is not to make pretty pictures but to learn how to accurately observe and record what you see.
  • Learn how to integrate drawing, writing, scientific observation and personal reflection in a nature journal. Gain inspiration that will encourage you to continue journaling as a regular practice that provides personal enrichment.“When drawing a subject, one looks again and again at the parts of the subject that are least familiar and beyond the gross contours or minimum features needed to identify the object…We are least likely to carefully observe those things with which we are the most familiar or which are easy to identify.”


What to bring with you:

  • A good quality journal with BLANK pages…NO LINES. The size should be small enough to carry in the field comfortably. The “Moleskine Large Sketchbook” (5” x 8.25” is a good choice), and Barnes and Noble usually keeps these books in stock. You can also buy sketchbooks at art supply stores. Keep in mind that a journal is not disposable…it should be a place where participants continue working and recording observations for an extended period of time, so purchase something you will enjoy carrying in your field pack and working in.

  • Several drawing pencils. 2B – 4B artists pencils of any brand. I also carry several mechanical pencils. These do not need to be fancy, but should have thicker leads so they don’t break so easily. I like a size 0.9mm, #2 leads for sketching and taking notes.

  • A kneaded eraser (available at art stores – it erases with no eraser litter).

  • Pencil sharpener (use a sharpener that holds pencil shavings, so no litter is released into the environment).

  • A hand lens to see detail.

  • If you have them, bring color pencils and a watercolor travel box and we will experiment with color. If you bring colors, please make sure they are artist quality, not materials made for children (these make it difficult to get good results).

Personal Comfort:

Bring drinking water in a reusable water bottle (please avoid bringing bottled water in single use bottles), lunch or a snack, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, long-sleeved shirt as needed for comfort.


“Any drawing, however crudely executed, is a success if it enables the student to see more clearly or document his or her observations”

   - Opening the World Through Nature Journaling  (California Native Plant Society)

“If you start drawing and sketching what you see, it forces you to look at a much deeper and profound level…. It focuses your attention to such a degree that you develop a relationship between you and whatever it is that you are observing, and that is a really powerful connection.”

– John Muir Laws, artist.

Why keep a nature journal?

  • Nature journaling is an engaging, enjoyable outdoor activity for all ages.
  • It records information and observations that can become a useful record in the future. Today, journals from the past are being used to compare historic observations to present day climate change-related shifts in bird migration, bird populations, and bloom set for flowering plants, among other topics.
  •  Keeping a nature journal enhances learning and retention.
  • Nature journaling can become a lifelong practice that generates questions about the natural world. It also encourages the search for answers to those questions.
  • It provides a place where individuals can look back at past experiences. Drawing increases focus, helps memory and heightens awareness. Access the pages of your journal in the future to compare changes in nature and in your own observational skills.

“… Trust nothing to memory’; for the memory becomes a fickle guardian when one interesting object is succeeded by another still more interesting.”

– Charles Darwin

Some elements to include in a nature journal:

Date, time, location, weather conditions, size information of plants and animals, color notes, multiple views of the same subject, behavior or interaction of various species seen along the trail, questions about what you see. Before the workshop starts, jot down a list of elements you are particularly interested in exploring.


Instructor:  Marjorie Shropshire was born in Miami, Florida where her interest in the natural world was forged at an early age on Biscayne Bay. “I could look into the water and see all manner of fantastic creatures swimming and crawling - the clear water was a giant hand lens allowing a peek into another world.’

Marjorie spent a lot of time exploring, hunting fossils, diving, and bird watching in the Everglades and on Florida’s southwest coast. Her eccentric childhood also helped develop an early taste for adventure travel. Birds, orchids, seashells, skulls, fossils and stones are common elements in her work, and her drawings often explore the complex forms of mangrove roots and hammock plants from the Florida Keys and the Everglades. A trip to Antarctica led to an ongoing series of drawings that contain images of the frozen continent.

Marjorie graduated from University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, and she has also studied at the University of Florida, Gage Academy of Art, The Armory Art Center, and Penland School of Crafts. She works in a variety of media, and drawing and painting are often combined with three dimensional constructions and handmade elements.

Marjorie is a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators and edits the Florida Native Plant Society’s magazine, PALMETTO.