GOPHER TORTOISE NATURAL HISTORY AND HABITAT TRAINING COURSE
Calendar of Dates - Register for this course
What you need to know about tortoises is rarely taught to you in school or training programs these days. Very few young biologists have opportunities to learn basic field biology and tortoise natural history. Most universities have dropped their field biology offerings. However this basic training is the foundation for being successful in taking the courses that count for FWC Certification. Or, if you are an agency biologist or land manager that will be working with tortoises, you will find this course to be extremely valuable. A number of individuals and communities have asked us to open up these programs to the general public since there is so much interest in tortoises and their conservation.
For these reasons, we have decided to bring back a revised "Tortoise Boot Camp" that the Ashton’s have offered for 11 years. The new program is a two day course is designed to give you an in depth program on the tortoises’ natural history including a heavy dose of understanding tortoise habitat. This course will be taught both in the field and the classroom. It will not go into FWC rules but will discuss these as they relate to how you can help tortoise conservation. What is a tortoise burrow? Do tortoises swim? What do you do if you have a tortoise in your yard and want to protect it? What do tortoises eat and what does this mean to their conservation and how you can make your land tortoise friendly. How can I teach students, my kids or grandkids about tortoises?
Who should take this course?
- People Interested in Natural History of Florida
- Entry level biologists working as consultants or for agencies or private landowners
- Landowners or managers of tortoise recipient sites.
- Interpretative naturalists and ecotourism guides
- Teachers interested in working with or teaching about tortoises
- Local government officials who manage protected species or conservation lands management.
- Veterinarians and Animal Rehabbers that may work with tortoises.
When and Where?
DECEMBER 11-12, 2009. Note change to Friday and Saturday (spaces are still available)
JANUARY 2010-OPEN TO ANY GROUP PROGRAMS SOUTH OF ORLANDO*
FEBRUARY 2010-OPEN TO ANY GROUP PROGRAMS SOUTH OF ORLANDO*
MARCH 26-27, 2010 unless a group confirms a course for their site, the program will be at ABRPI
APRIL 30- May 1, 2010 unless a group confirms a course for their site, the program will be at ABRPI
JUNE 11-12 2010 unless a group confirms a course for their site, the program will be at ABRPI
Summer Programs for organizations can be set any days of the week. Contact Tortfarm2@aol.com for details.
- The Tortoise Natural History Course through 2009 will be taught at the Ashton Biodiversity Research and Preservation Institute which is 12 miles west of Gainesville, Florida.
- The course will be 2 days in length and will be from 9:00am-5:00 pm. The course will be offered once a month for each month.
- A minimum registration of 5 people at a time will be required at least 3 weeks in advance for the course to run.
- The course cost is $150.00. However for groups of 3 or more signing up together, the price will be $125. The price includes lunch, and drinks during the day and some handouts. If a group or organization arranges for the course to be taught at their facility, costs will be based on a flat rate of $500 for up to 10 individuals plus all expenses and $50 each for additional individuals up to 18. These are instructor’s fees and do not include any costs like food and materials for participants. Contact Tortfarm2@aol.com for details.
- We have a fully furnished comfortable bunk house that can manage up to 5 people. It will be available for $25/person/night on a first come basis. Contact Tortfarm2@aol.com to check on availability of space.
- * Due to cold weather, we will only offer the course in areas from Orlando South until March. To offer winter courses we must find a sponsor for these programs. We will charge a flat fee of $500 for up to 10 students plus expenses and $50/ student with at total maximum of 20 students. A classroom and a site with tortoises and habitat will be required. Meals and drinks are not included in the cost.
WHERE: At the indoor and outdoor facilities of FINCA DE LA TORTGUA - ASHTON BIOLOGICAL PRESERVE (ABRPI), ARCHER, FLORIDA .
(Directions will be provided with registration confirmation)
THE PROGRAM: EACH SESSION TAUGHT AT THE INSTITUTE IS LIMITED TO 12 PARTICPANTS.
The program is designed to provide a demonstration and then give participants a chance to work hands on, in the field with the following:
- The History of Gopher Tortoises
- Reproduction and Social Behavior
- Age Classes and Their Behavior
- Foraging, needs and assessment how tortoises find food
- Habitats of Tortoises
- Burrow Natural History
- Developing on and off-site uplands and artificial tortoise preserves
- Developing Mitigation and Management Plans
- Teaching people about gopher tortoises
- How to handle gopher tortoises and gather information about them including health
- Conservation of Gopher Tortoises-Review of the Rules
INSTRUCTORS: The instructors will be Ray and Pat Ashton.
DAILY SCHEDULE: We will have morning classes inside and spend much of the afternoon in the field. Participants should be prepared with proper clothing, hats, sunscreen, etc.
BAD WEATHER DATES: If the forecast is for bad weather, we will set a date on the next Friday or Saturday if we do not have a scheduling conflict. We will communicate by email as soon as we are aware of the schedule. If a participant cannot attend on the new date, they can elect to sign up for another date on the calendar.
TIME: Starting time is 9:00 am. Afternoon field sessions will last until 5:00 pm. It is important to be on time. The field station is 15 miles west of Gainesville where most overnight accommodations are and it will be important to plan to be at the site ahead of the starting time.
Hotel information will be sent upon confirmation of attendance. The field station has a comfortable facility that will accommodate 4-6 people comfortably and is available on a first come first serve basis. There are two bedrooms (2 beds in each) and a couch. The cost is $25 per person per night. This includes bedding and towels. The funds are used to pay for upkeep and utilities. There is a kitchen with cooking equipment, stove, microwave and refrigerator. You would need to bring what you wish to cook. The bunkhouse is about 500 ft from the education center.
REQUIREMENTS: Participants must be 21 years of age or older, 15 if accompanied by parent (both pay) and must be physically capable to get through natural vegetation, climb steep sand inclines, dig with a shovel and have no health problems that may increase vulnerability to the heat and humidity. All attendees will be required to complete a medical emergency form, have medical and liability insurance and sign a waiver of liability. All attendees must understand that the workshop is being held in a natural area with high populations of various species of venomous snakes, insects and other invertebrates.
Recommended Reading: These can be ordered from the publisher on line. For teachers, educators, guides and the general public.
P.S. Ashton and R.E. Ashton 2006. Gopher Tortoise, A Natural History , 78 pgs. Pineapple Press, Sarasota, FL.
For land managers, agency personnel, or serious students of gopher tortoises
R.E. Ashton and P.S. Ashton 2008. The Natural History and Management of the Gopher Tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus (Daudin). 178 pgs. Kreiger Press, Malabar, FL.
What is provided?
- Use of field and lab equipment during workshop
- Expert Instructors with many years experience in working with tortoises and in Florida Habitats.
- Handout materials
- A light lunch each day and beverages and water *
- A Certificate of Attendance will be issued for those who attend all parts of the workshop.
* When course is taught with a group sponsorship, the meals may not be included.
- Please contact us at Tortfarm2@aol.com to confirm that we have available space.
- Click here to print a registration form provided here once you have been notified that space is available.
- Pay by check/ money order to the address included in the registration, or pay online with Paypal by entering the amount of your registration and clicking on the button below. We cannot accept credit cards, except through Paypal.
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The deadline for registration is 15 days before the date of the workshop you plan to attend.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
* The deadline for registration is 15 days before the date of the workshop you plan to attend. Cancellations must be received in writing (by e-mail, Fax or mail). All cancellations will be charged an administrative fee of $50.00 US. Cancellations received between 60 and 30 days from the first day of the workshop will be subject to an administrative fee of $50.00 plus a 25% cancellation fee. Cancellations received between 30 days and 8 days of the start date will be charged a 50% cancellation fee plus the administrative fee of $50. There will be no refunds on any cancellations received within 7 days of the start of a workshop. There will be a $35.00 fee assessed on all returned checks.
WE ARE WILLING TO TEACH THIS COURSE AT YOUR LOCATION FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION OR COMPANY. CONTACT US TO DISCUSS DETAILS.