Nature Connection 2024 Features Safari Guide and Emperor Penguin Expert April 6


By Brian Dusseault

Nature Connections PenguinBay County Audubon Society will celebrate its “Nature Connection 2024” Program main event on April 6 at the Holley Center, FSU PC campus. The keynote speaker is safari guide and naturalist Tom Nkwazi, “Big Tom” as he is known in his native country of Botswana. He is a fully licensed professional safari guide of more than 15 years. Also scheduled to present is Noah Strycker, who has extensively studied birds and lived with penguins, as his authorship of six books will attest. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the current state of nature in our changing world through their observations and life stories.

Nature Connections Big Tom 30Big Tom currently guides in the northern part of Botswana, in the Okavango Delta, close to Chobe National Park (home to 100,000 plus elephants) and world-famous Victoria Falls in nearby Zimbabwe. This is a magical area, as a quick internet search (replete with National Geographic videos) will reveal.

Big Tom’s unique knowledge of wild Africa offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the environmental issues facing the shrinking African natural habitat. The iconic image of Africa is perhaps best represented by the fauna and flora of the Serengeti, host to elephants, lions, wildebeest, crocodiles, hippos, giraffes, antelopes, acacia trees, and exotic birds, to name a few. His message will include a discussion of issues with far-reaching consequences about the status of species and their shrinking habitat.

Nature Connections CheetahWe are indeed fortunate to have Noah Strycker back again to present after he headlined our “Nature Connection 2022” Program. At that event, Noah delivered a standing ovation presentation about his around-the-world birding odyssey in 2015 during which he visited 41 countries and all seven continents, identifying a record-setting 6,042 bird species. He hasn’t slowed down much since. His travels have taken him to the Arctic and Antarctica numerous times, allowing him to compile a vast knowledge of these icy regions through on-site experience and scientific studies.

Nature Connections PenguinsThis time, Noah will update us on his current area of intense nature focus, the status of the Emperor Penguin in Antarctica. Recent scientific reporting suggests Emperor Penguin populations are suffering serious nesting (and survival) issues due to accelerating melting sea ice (their chicks can only hatch on ice). He will relate his recent experiences living with Emperor Penguin colonies.

Noah will once again visit many of our local schools to give an updated educational program on penguins and nature to new groups of kids eager to learn more about these incredibly cute (and important) birds. Big Tom will also be speaking at local schools about the African story.

To participate, consider attending and donating through our tickets on sale. Depending on the type of ticket or level of donation towards the April 6 main event, there are several enhancements to the main program presentations. These may include a “Meet and Greet” with our two speakers, a catered buffet, a string quartet, the North Bay Haven Charter Academy Chorale, and photo exhibits. General Admission is $30 for the presentations starting at 6:30 p.m.

To buy tickets, or for more information, see Proceeds go to the Bay Education Foundation, which funds grants to public school and charter school teachers who apply for nature-related classroom projects. Also, part of the proceeds will be directed to a community school that three of Big Tom’s children attend in his hometown, Kazungula, Botswana.