Friends of Park plan events for nature lovers, history buffs and more


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The Friends of the V.I. National Park's 2014 annual seminar series begins in January with a plethora of workshops, historic tours and boat trips to help residents and visitors get out and explore all the park has to offer.

The 2014 seminar series begins the second week of January and runs through April.

The Friends of the V.I. National Park is the park's official nonprofit organization and is an independent agency that helps preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of the park. The organization also helps to raise money for park projects.

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the organization's incorporation.

The Friends' annual seminar series is a major fundraiser for the group. All of the instructors donate their time so the funds go primarily to environmental education, natural resources conservation and scientific research.

The seminar series includes perennial favorites, such as snorkeling with sea turtles, a hike down the Reef Bay trail and a number of art and photography classes. Some new selections are also available this year like the opportunity to "hike with the super" - the park's superintendent.

The Friends' annual seminar series has been ongoing for about a decade and is the organization's major fundraising activity.

Annual membership to the Friends of the Park organization is $30 for an individual, $50 for a family and $100 for a business. Members receive a discounted registration fee for the seminars. Registration fees, which go toward maintaining the park, are tax-deductible. Children get half off the registration fees, except for boat trips.

For information or to register for any of the seminars, call 779-4940 or visit www.friendsvinp.org.

January

- Build Green, 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 11: Learn about green building, traditional West Indian wooden cottages, landscaping with native vegetation, solar power, net-metering, water conservation, composting, organic gardening and solar oven bread-making from Doug White. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

- Cruz Bay Historical Tour, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 12: Tour historic downtown Cruz Bay with Julius von Rohr. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

- Native Arts and Crafts, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 15: Learn about the historical uses of found items to create crafts in the same way they have been made for generations. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

- Kayak the Mangroves of Hurricane Hole, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 19: Kayak through the Coral Reef National Monument, stopping along the way to snorkel in the mangroves and seagrass beds. Cost is $65 for members and $75 for non-members.

- Medicinal Herbs, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 22: Explore the natural benefits of native herbs found throughout the Caribbean. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

- Hassel Island Tour, 2 to 5 p.m. Jan. 24: Kayak from Frenchtown to Hassel Island. Includes a hike to visit Fort Willoughby, the Garrison House, the Creque Marine Railway and Shipley Battery or Cowell Battery. Cost is $69 for members and $79 for non-members.

- Native Plants of St. John Hike, 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 25: Learn about the native plants while hiking through the park. Cost is $45 for members and $55 for non-members.

February

- Birds of the Park, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 3: Tour the North Shore of St. John by safari with Park Ranger Laurel Brannick, stopping along the way to view native and seasonal birds in their natural habitat. Cost is $55 for members and $65 for non-members.

- Explore the shore, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 5: Hike along the shoreline of Leinster Bay. Cost is $55 for members and $65 for non-members.

- Lovango Sustainable Design Tour, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 8: Dan Boyd leads a tour of true "off the grid" living on Lovango Cay. Cost is $55 for members and $65 for non-members.

- Hike with the "Super," 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 12: Hike with V.I. National Park Superintendent Brion Fitzgerald. Cost is $45 for members and $55 for non-members.

- Full Moon Drum Circle, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 14: Learn about the history of the art of drumming and the ritual drumming techniques of West African and Afro-Caribbean cultures from master drummer Eddie Bruce. Cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members.

- Pepper Sauce Making, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 19: Learn the art of making hot pepper sauce with Trinidad Charlie. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

- Archaeology by Sea Boat Trip, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 26. Cost is $65 for members and $75 for non-members.

- Sea Turtle Sail, 1 to 5 p.m. Feb. 27: Sail to Buck Island, St. Thomas and swim with the green and hawksbill turtles. Cost is $65 for members and $75 for non-members.

- Botany Hike, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 28: Learn about the island's flora while hiking through the park. Cost is $45 for members and $55 for non-members.

March

- Tropical Garden Tour I, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 1: Tour four different island gardens. Cost is $55 for members and $65 for non-members.

- Ethnic Drumming, 1 to 3 p.m. March 5: Learn about the history of the art of drumming and the ritual drumming techniques of West African and Afro-Caribbean cultures from master drummer Eddie Bruce. Cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members.

- Kayak, Hike and Snorkel, 9:30 a.m. to noon March 7: Take a guided kayak and snorkel excursion with a hike. Cost is $60 for members and $70 for non-members.

- Lovango Sustainable Design Tour, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 8: Dan Boyd leads a tour of true "off the grid" living on Lovango Cay. Cost is $55 for members and $65 for non-members.

- St. Thomas Historical Walking Tour, 9 to 11 a.m. March 9: Explore the historical district of downtown Charlotte Amalie. Tour the 99 steps and other culturally significant areas ending in a tour of the St. Thomas Historical Trust Museum. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

- Pepper Sauce Making, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. March 12: Learn the art of making hot pepper sauce with Trinidad Charlie. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

- Coastal Ecology, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 15: Circumnavigate St. John and learn about the mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs. Cost is $75 for members and $85 for non-members.

- Full Moon Hike, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 16: Take a moonlit hike in the park. Cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members.

- Lameshur Bay/VIERS Tour, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 19: Hike the Yawzi Trail to a ruined 18th century great house and tour the V.I. Environmental Research Station. Cost is $45 for members and $55 for non-members.

- Marine Biology Sail, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 23: Enjoy a guided sail and snorkel St. John's reefs. Cost is $85 for members and $95 for non-members.

- Tropical Light Photography, 8 a.m. to noon March 24: Travel through the park with photographer Steve Simonsen as he teaches how to creatively capture the park's natural beauty. Cost is $45 for members and $55 for non-members.

- Lionfish Boat Adventure, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 26: Lionfish experts will teach you about the invasive species before heading out to snorkel, search for lionfish and see a live capture. Cost is $85 for members and $95 for non-members.

- Mangrove Snorkeling Boat Trip, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 29: Visit Otter Creek and Water Creek in Hurricane Hole. Cost is $85 for members and $95 for non-members.

April

- Hike with the "Super," 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 2: Hike with V.I. National Park Superintendent Brion Fitzgerald. Cost is $45 for members and $55 for non-members.

- Explore and Photograph Leinster Bay, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 5. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

- Eco Spa Mud Bath, 2 to 4 p.m. April 9: Learn how to make natural beauty products at the Salt Pond. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

- Tropical Garden Tour II, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 12: Tour different island gardens. Cost is $55 for members and $65 for non-members.

- Full Moon Hike, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 15: Take a moonlit hike in the park. Cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members.

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