Celebrate Mother’s Day on the St. Johns River, Kingsley Plantation

Sunday, May 10, 9am–Noon

Ft. Caroline National Memorial

12713 Fort Caroline Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32225

Register online:  www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org/events; Cost $35

Unless your mother has a specific request for Mother’s Day, you may find yourself tasked with coming up with a fun and unique way to celebrate “Mom” on this special day. While brunch or a nice meal is always a great way to spend time with mom, exploring the St. Johns River and the historic Kingsley Plantation may be just the thing to make it a more exciting and memorable experience.

St. Johns Riverkeeper offers monthly boat trips on various sections and tributaries of the St. Johns. Black Creek, Ortega River, Arlington River and Downtown are all popular destinations. Twice a year, they bring passengers to Kingsley Plantation, a historic site from the 1800’s on Ft. George Island that is part of the Timucuan Preserve and our National Park system. Visiting historic sites along the river, exploring the estuary and seeing where the Timucua Indians called home are all worth doing on the water.

The trip departs from Ft. Caroline National Memorial boat dock at 9am on Mother’s Day with a guest speaker, Kingsley Plantation Park Ranger Geoffrey Johnson. Cruise along Sisters Creek, and learn about early settlements and Civil War sites that dot the terrain. Upon arrival at Kingsley Plantation, tour the grounds that include slave quarters, the plantation house and kitchen house, and an interpretive garden. Learn more about how this Florida plantation operated during slavery, and how this area was built on the backs of families working to buy their freedom.

Kingsley Plantation is now home to gopher tortoises, herons, several bird species and other wildlife. The protected marsh is a haven for waterfowl and dozens of species of fish. Exploring the protected lands on Fort George Island offers a glimpse into the St. Johns River estuary, the river and oceans nursery, and all of the life that it supports.

You don’t have to join the boat trip to enjoy the Timucuan Preserve with your mother, though.  Make it a point to explore the trails of Spanish Pond just across from Ft. Caroline National Memorial. Five hundred Spanish soldiers marched for four days through the marsh before Menendez and his men camped there, exhausted and weary, the night before they attacked and captured Fort Caroline in 1565. The Spanish Pond boardwalk and trail connect to the neighboring Theodore Roosevelt Area, providing an opportunity for a quiet, enjoyable walk through pine flatwoods, oak hammock, and tidal marsh. You can also visit Kingsley Plantation by car or with your own boat. Make sure to take advantage of the audio-guided tour. Enjoy the river from the water, and slow down to watch wading birds.

On Mother’s Day this year, provide the gift of our river by experiencing these natural and historic treasures with your family. St. Johns Riverkeeper is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization working to protect and restore the St. Johns River. Boat tours into the great wild places of the river allow others to experience the St. Johns in a way that builds stewardship and appreciation for all ages. We hope you will join us on the river soon.

 

 

About Shannon Blankinship

Shannon Blankinship is the Outreach Director for St. Johns Riverkeeper and contributes regularly via the “On The River” column building awareness for the many issues that impact the St. Johns River. Shannon received her B.S. from Purdue University in Natural Resources Economics and Policy and her J.D. from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville. She is currently an elected official in Duval County serving on the Soil and Water Conservation District. She is a board member for the local nonprofit The Girls Gone Green and regularly contributes articles affecting animals and health. She is a Springfield resident and works to promote all things great in the urban core neighborhoods.