Drivers in High Springs were treated to a rare sight late last year—a 500-pound manatee skeleton rolling down Main Street.
With a police escort, the manatee made its way just down the road to the new home of the Florida Springs Institute. On Saturday, the institute held an open house for their new space, filled with educational exhibits, a store, offices and a research lab.
“It was quite a laborious process,” Director Bob Knight said in a phone interview. “I mean, we literally painted and restored everything in the building ourselves, with ourselves and volunteers.”
The location will be called the Florida Springs Welcome Center, run by the nonprofit institute founded in 2010. Knight said the larger footprint will hold more events and hopes to share the space with similar interest groups.
During a presentation, Knight said the institute has continued to grow as donations increase yearly, allowing for more staff and opportunities.
The institute conducts research in springs across the state and educates the public on their findings and general information about Florida’s more than 1,000 artesian springs. Last year, they helped add educational signs at Poe Springs with Alachua County.
The institute holds a free Springs Academy on the second Tuesday of each month and teaches about the hydrogeology of the springs, how they’re utilized and the impact of human activity.
And on Feb. 4, the institute will hold a Springs Run at First Magnitude Brewing Co. in Gainesville.
Learn more by visiting the Florida Springs Institute’s website.
Seth, thanks for this and other great pieces about important community events!