The Hobe Sound Nature Center, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization, dedicated to environmental awareness and education. The Center is a cooperating association with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and located at the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, in southern Martin County.
In 1973, Hobe Sound Nature Center first opened its doors to educate people of all ages about Florida’s fragile environment. This environmental learning facility was established by Mr. Jackson Burke and Mrs. Elizabeth Kirby for the Jupiter Island Garden Club, Inc. The Center enjoys a cooperative agreement and over thirty years in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) which allows it to conduct education and awareness programs on site, while the service provides and maintains the facility.
Created in 1982, the Friends of the Nature Center help support and promote the mission of the Hobe Sound Nature Center. Membership entitles you to take an active role with our educational efforts. All members receive a subscription to our quarterly newsletter, the Mangrove News which keeps you in the loop with the latest happenings and events at the Nature Center.
In 1990, the Hobe Sound Nature Center Foundation, Inc. was established. This tax exempt foundation was created for the sole purpose of supplementing the monies available for the Nature Center itself.The Jupiter Island Garden Club continues to sponsor the Nature Center and remains one of its major funding sources.
The Nature Center offers both on and off-site native wildlife presentations and field experiences to local natural areas. The Spring Program Series, offered in February and March, was initiated to present to the public, especially new residents, information about the local environment. These programs include field trips to natural areas and nighttime lectures with experts. School groups and other organizations visit the Center to take part in specially designed environmental education awareness programs. Popular topics include Florida’s myriad threatened habitats and endangered species, native wildlife and estuarine life cycles. The Nature Center staffs also participates in outreach and community events such as the Hobe Sound Christmas Parade.
The Hobe Sound Nature Center is located the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Nature trails on-site allow for hikes on estuaries, barrier islands and the sand pine scrub. The sand pine scrub habitat, preserved between the U.S. 1 corridor and the Indian River Lagoon, is Florida’s oldest and most endangered habitat. It is home to many vanishing plant and animal species, including scrub jays, gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, four-petaled pawpaw and dancing lady orchids. The Refuge borders an estuarine area, where seagrass beds occur. The estuary provides food and shelter which are critical to the manatee, an endangered species.During the winter months the Center offers weekly naturalist hikes along the trails.
The Center offers a summer environmental camp for students ages 6 to 12 held every summer since 1973. Its excellent reputation has drawn students from three counties and even youngsters visiting relatives in the area. Field trips, arts and crafts, interpretive programs, hands-on experiences and other activities enable the participants to enjoy their summer while learning about Florida’s wildlife and what they can do to protect it.
A highly popular summertime program is nighttime interpretive “sea turtle walks,” held from late May to mid July. These walks begin with a presentation in the Center’s classroom and end with a visit to the Hobe Sound Public Beach to witness the egg-laying of the threatened loggerhead sea turtle. A special permit is issued to the Nature Center by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in order to provide people with this unique opportunity to observe this natural phenomenon. Reservations are required and recommended to book way in advance. The Center begins taking reservation beginning April 1 each year.