The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), recently hosted a three-day event to educate youngsters about conservation.

June 3-5, nine families came together to experience the real Florida at the Flying Eagle Youth Conservation Center, near Inverness (formally the McGregor-Smith Scout Reservation).

The children were able to take an active part in helping manage conservation lands by participating in a closely supervised hunt that helped remove a number of feral hogs, which negatively impact land and water conservation efforts.

“This is the place where kids can come to play for real,” said Boy Scouts of America Gulf Ridge Council executive George McGovern.

The event kicked off with presentations by FWC Commissioner Richard Corbett, SWFWMD Board member Doug Tharp, and McGovern. FWC law enforcement officers and hunter safety staff also interacted with the families.

The second day, FWC educator Barbara Gugliotti presented a water conversation class for the participants between the morning and evening hunts, when six hogs were harvested. The largest hog was harvested Sunday morning, tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds.

“It is almost impossible to articulate the benefits of this weekend, but those nine kids truly made a connection with nature in unimaginable ways, while creating new friendships that will last a lifetime,” said Corbett.

The Flying Eagle Youth Conservation Center became part of the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network in December 2010. The next steps for the new center include the formation of a local advisory committee. Each partner will have two representatives on the committee, which will begin meeting in July and once every month thereafter.

If you are interested in learning more about the Flying Eagle Youth Conservation Center, please contact Barbara Gugliotti at or visit the website at


Karen Parker, 386-758-0525

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