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News Story
Updated: 02/07/2018 08:30:01AM

Highlands Hammock presents ‘Exploration Station’

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MELISSA MAIN PHOTO

This family stopped by the Exploration Station to learn more about the plants and animals found at Highlands Hammock State Park. They especially enjoyed learning about the alligator.

MELISSA MAIN/CORRESPONDENT

Susan Woodworth stood by some of the biological samples that are on display at the Exploration Station at Highlands Hammock State Park.

MELISSA MAIN/CORRESPONDENT

Dimitri Hernandez examined the stuffed alligator that was held by Brian Woodworth, one of the educators at the Exploration Station.

MELISSA MAIN/CORRESPONDENT

This alligator skull is used to educate people about the length of the alligator. Sometimes only the snout of an alligator can be seen above water, but people can still estimate the length of the animal by estimating (without touching) the length between the eye socket and the nostril in inches. The number of inches between the eye socket and the nostrils is approximately the same as the number of feet in total length of the alligator.

MELISSA MAIN/CORRESPONDENT

Stuffed snakes and snake skins are on display to educate visitors about the snakes commonly found in central Florida.

MELISSA MAIN/CORRESPONDENT

Brian Woodworth created a poster to help visitors remember the important difference between two snakes that are similar in appearance, the coral snake and the scarlet king snake. The coral snake is venomous and must be avoided.

BY MELISSA MAIN

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Exploring nature trails at Highlands Hammock State Park is more enjoyable when you have more knowledge about the different plant and animal species that are found there. The Exploration Station is manned by two knowledgeable volunteers, Brian and Susan Woodworth, who educate visitors about the plant and animal species found at the park. The station is filled with pictures, snake skins, alligator eggs, footprints, skulls of various animals and countless other biological samples. It’s like a tiny nature museum with guides who will explain each item and listen to your stories as well. This educational treasure is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. year-round, and it’s easy to find. Just past the park entrance, take the first road to the right. The small white trailer marks the spot, and it’s just a few feet down the road after the right-hand turn.

Myra Coggeshall, who logged over 5,000 volunteer hours, started the Exploration Station after her husband died. Before he died, the two of them would spend time in the biologist’s office admiring all the biological samples. After his death, she asked, “Why don’t we display these items so that people can enjoy them?” So she took two totes and carried the items to the campground. Throughout the years, people donated supplies and Myakka State Park assisted with the collection. Myra even purchased a hog skull at an antique store. The project grew over the years and the Woodworths took over when she retired.

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