Twenty-six years ago, three members of the community had a vision and a goal to lend a helping hand. Fast forward to 2016, Leon and
Naida Eisenbud have passed, and the only remaining founder Bobbie Hickman stated, "Who
would have imagined three people, who just saw a need to help, could have
accomplished so much?"
Walking on the beach in the spring of
1990, they noted some Ospreys' valiant efforts to build nests close by, and
decided to help. A team effort that soon included the utility company and
a local builder, resulted in a platform atop a pole that was quickly occupied
by an Osprey pair that built a nest. The friends decided they could do
more and the Friends of Barefoot Beach Preserve was born and has been a growing
team ever since—joined by many who are also concerned with preservation of the coastal environment.
"We are so proud of the people that have committed
their time and talent to the Friends," said the organization's vice president, Rebecca Edelbrock.
There are many different roles that comprise the Friends, from a docent, who commits weekly to three hours a day in season,
to staff the learning center and answer
questions; to the gardeners who, every Thursday, year round, weed and tidy up
the cactus and butterfly gardens. The naturalist provides walks and talks
(January through April). The Saturday lecture series committee contacts
speakers, then makes sure everything is set up by 10 a.m. each Saturday (January
"Volunteers also are behind
the scene working with students from FGCU and Collier County to make our
organization a great asset to the community," Edelbrock explained.
The organization is open to all. As Collier County continues to grow, so does foot traffic on the Barefoot Beach Preserve. The organization has a responsibility to continue education and to protect the natural features of the beach; to bring public awareness to
the fact it is a preserve and a haven for animals that make it their home.
The Friends will once again sponsor the Great American Cleanup on Sept. 16, from 8 to 11 a.m. Those interested in helping can contact Keep
Collier Beautiful at keepcollierbeautiful.com
. Additionally, the organization backs the Everglades Foundation and its work to stop pollution in Lake Okeechobee.
of Barefoot Beach Board of Directors
- President – Denny Dolmage
- Vice President – Rebecca Edelbrock
- Secretary – Barbara Schimbke
- Treasurer – Bobbe Hickman
- Cindy Dolmage – Docent Chair
- Sharon Truluck – Naturalist Chair
- Marilynn Greeley – Lecture Chair
- Margaret Winn – FGCU Volunteer Coordinator
Throughout the year, the Friends sponsor ongoing and special
projects—made possible through membership dues and generous donations--as well
as volunteers contributing many, many hours.
A mile long trail winding
through the trees to Wiggins Pass provides the chance to view over 30 species
of native vegetation all tagged and identified by the Friends. Friends' members
regularly groom the trail, clearing out exotic plants and replacing them with
natural species. They've also erected directional signs, identified vegetation, provided benches to sit and
enjoy the natural beauty of the trail and the Gulf.
Seasonal lecture series
features guest speakers who are experts on subjects as varied as: shells, dolphins, eagles,
tortoises and early Florida Indian culture. For years, these popular
lectures have played to large crowds. Other educational offerings are
naturalist guided walks and talks that include Beachcombing & Shelling
talks, nature walks along the boardwalk, and exploration of the coastal
habitats of the Preserve. All of these help to provide recreation and
education on diversified subjects, primarily related to environmental topics
for the benefit of thousands of local residents and visitors of all ages.
Located in the heart of the
Preserve, this structure is full of displays and literature, including an
extensive shell collection. Built and maintained through private
contributions, this structure is staffed by volunteers from December through
April and maintained by the Friends of Barefoot Beach.
Individual members have sponsored
and/or developed posters and displays which are exhibited on wall-mounted cases
and in free standing cabinets all year round. Unique shell collections
are on permanent display. Plant specimens from the trail and marine
species from the beach are displayed.
Maintained for the use of visitors who
wish to identify specimens and/or explore books of interest for adults and
children on the many and varied elements of this natural habitat.
We continue to actively
monitor and protect the population, distribution, and habitat of the Gopher
Tortoise—a threatened species which is protected from the encroachment on their
habitat in the Preserve.
Poles and platforms for
Ospreys have been constructed and installed in several places within the
Preserve. In addition, Ospreys have established a nest on the trail in a
dead tree. Ospreys have taken possession and reared families in all the
nests. During nesting season, you can see and hear them as they call to
one another, fish for food, and feed and raise their fledglings.
Dedicated to founders,
Naida and Leon Eisenbud, with ponds and waterfall, a beautiful butterfly garden
constructed, planted, and maintained with mostly native plant materials that
attract butterflies of many species. Thanks to a few dedicated
volunteers, the garden is flourishing.
Just to the South of the
Learning Center, in vivid contrast to the Butterfly Garden, the friends also
maintain a xeriscape (dry) cactus garden. Volunteers made
identification signs for the plants within this garden.
Friends regularly assist the County
with Beach Cleanup.
recent bequest from Clarence Affelt, a longtime volunteer with the Friends of
Barefoot Beach Preserve, has allowed us to recognize a dream the original
founders had to support and further the education of students of environmental
The Friends of Barefoot Beach Preserve Scholarship is in the amount of
$1,000 each for tuition, books, and educational related expenses. For more information, visit friendsofbarefootbeach.org.