The Sweetbay Chapter serves Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Walton, and Washington Counties.
The Mission of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.
We fullfill this mission in multiple ways, summarized below:
Native Plant Education
Many people are "plant-blind" -- to them plants are the green stuff. What we know little about tends to be valued less. The Sweetbay Chapter , and FNPS work to teach people about the plants that we live with and why they, and the native plant communities around us are important.
Native Ecosystem Preservation and Management
When we convert native plant ecosystems to subdivision and farms, we lose the native plant communities that they supported. The same thing happens when we withdraw management - some systems become overgrown losing wildflowers that need light, some get taken over by non-native invasive species. Did you know that most of the really bad weeds that you see are non-native? If we remove mangrove forests along our coastlines, we increase the chances that hurricanes will cause increased coastal erosion because the natural thicket of protective mangrove roots are gone.
Sustainability, Bringing Nature Home
Local actions can make a difference. When we change our landsaping to include native plants grown with techniques that minimize the need for added water and fertilizer, we can and do minimize our footprint on our environment.
Did you know that how you manage your property can affect natural resources that we all treasure such as our clear stream and clean beaches? One of the reasons the Sweetbay Chapter supports using native plants in the landscape, is that, if one chooses a pallate of plant species adapted to the local soils and climate, we can greatly minimize the use of fertilizers and supplemental water.
Supporting Pollinators and Butterflies
Plants are enormously important to insects a huge number of which rely directly on native plants. Did you know that the larvae of monarch butterflies depend exclusively on native milkweeds? Studies are showing that there is a close relationship between insect abundance and native plants? They co-evolved together. Recent studies shown that we are losing our insects, both in terms of the number of species and in terms of their numbers locally. The Sweetbay Chapter's events, and additional programs provided by FNPS, are designed to educate our members and the public.
Wildlife depend on native plants and native plant habitats. Some wildlife are herbivores (deer). Some are insectivores (most birds feed their babies insects even in species where the adults eat grains, fruits, or animal prey). You can attract hummingbirds to a feeder, but they need places to nest,, rest and hide, insects to feed their young, and nectar that is more nutritional than sugar water from a feeder. Our chapter provides support to teach people how to keep wildlife in our natural areas and how to build habitats in urban ones.
We get out into the woods, into our parks, into our swamps, into other wild lands. We have field trips lead by local botanists and ecologists. Contribute by being a participant. Lead trips.
Become a Force for Sustainability and Conservation of Native Plants
The Sweetbay Chapter is an enthusiastic group of volunteers. Whether it is helping with a plant sale, handing out native plant information at a public event, presenting a program, or helping manage our chapter, volunteers are our life-blood.
Filling our mission is non-politcal, and it needs all of us. We are non-political. We are multi-racial. We are multi-ethnic. We welcome anyone who shares our mission.
An important aspect of being in this type of organization is that you gain a community of like-minded people to support you. We provide means, such as our meeting and field trips. We also provide easy ways to connect online.
Most of our programs and events are open to the public. We rely on the dues that members pay to support these.
There are also personal advantages to being a member. FNPS will send you our quarterly publication, the Palmetto, and bi-monthly newsletter, the Sabal minor. You will also get discounts on the FNPS conference and FNPS books. Most native nurseries provide discounts to FNPS members (ask!).
But all-important, help us fulfill the mission.