It’s always busy at the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden

Misha McRae, executive director of the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s going on in the garden.

The Key West Tropical Forest Botanical Garden has been the keeper of the trees for 88 years and will be going strong for another 98 years on the lease.

McRae said, “Thank you citizens of Key West. We could not appreciate it anymore. The fact that we’ve been here for almost nine decades and that the voters approved for us to be here for at least another nine decades is pretty awesome. We couldn’t be more grateful.”

A plant sale will be held tomorrow.

McRae said, “Plant right and then you’ll be able to live right. Our native plant sale is tomorrow from nine to noon. We have an educated staff and volunteers to help you out with all your plant needs. No reason for petunias, roses, or any of those other plants because we’ve got natives that equate or are even better than any of the ornamentals that are offered in other locations and they can’t be more native because they came from this Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden, from nine to noon tomorrow. It’s free. Come on in. Members get 15% discount on your sales. So consider becoming a member and come join us tomorrow.”

The rum infused scavenger hunt coming up will provide much needed funds.

McRae said, “It’s going to be a great time. For those who do not know the Key West Tropical Forests and Botanical Garden has had an active and robust education program since 2006. We coined the phrase Living Lab, because this is what this Botanical Garden is, an environmental terrestrial science lab. We actually reach out to pre K all the way to college classes. Our goal is to hit 3,500 students this fiscal year, and we need your help, because of the fact that the old song, the wheels of the bus go round and round, well somebody’s got to pay for it. Right? And we give every student an opportunity to come in free. We cover it all. How do we do that? With the support of good people, with foundations and grants and donations, it costs $340 for us to bring a busload of kids in. If we’re going to hit our mark, it’s going to be quite expensive for us to pay for all of that. So we’re doing a fundraiser, the rum infused adult scavenger hunt and fundraiser is really a key point because one of the positive things about our living lab program is putting the kids through the scavenger hunt, how excited they are about it, what ownership they take when they are able to identify what’s going on. We thought, well, why did the kids have to have all the fun? So in order to help us to raise this bus money, and I hate to say it that way, but that’s what it is, we’re doing this fundraiser tomorrow Saturday, May 18, from six to 10 pm. We’re very excited. Outback Steakhouse is providing the meals. Key West First Legal Rum distillery is providing the rum and the Perpetual Island Tour with John Bartus is going to be our musical entertainment. Couldn’t ask for a better package at a better place for a better evening. We’re going to have cocktails and scavenger hunts. We encourage teams, individuals are fine, but costumes are also encouraged. Opens at 6 sharp. Have your rum infused cocktail, 6:30 to 7:30 will be the scavenger hunt, 7:30 to 8:30 is the buffet dinner by Outback Steakhouse. Then John starts playing at seven o’clock all the way to 10 o’clock. We’re going to do a costume contest. We have a solid silent auction, raffle and other opportunities as part of Monroe County Transportation Expenses. Of course any and all donations are definitely appreciated. It’s $100 per person, it your first drink and dinner, and the first 30 people to register will receive a bottle of rum. So get here at six and make sure you sign up for the scavenger hunt. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be interactive, it’s going to stimulate the mind and the body and reignite that sense of exploration when you go around about the garden looking for your objects.”

Tickets can be purchased on the website and they will not be available at the door.

McRae said, “We have limited seating. So if you can’t get in, you can’t get in, our apologies.”

A capital campaign for the education office is still ongoing.

McRae said, “The life of the structure for the Education Office has already expired and we need to build a new education office. We’ve already raised about $34,000. We’re going to need about 10 times more. We want to put in a new education office that would include an office, a library and a classroom for students that come in here. Like I said, it’s substantial, we’re shooting for 3,500 students. It’s not that far off since we did 3,000 this year. So 500 more means we’re going to be hitting Big Pine. We’re going to go as far north as Marathon. And it costs a lot of money to bus those kids down here for field trips. So a new education office is necessary for our education staff. If the weather’s bad, we don’t have a classroom for anyone. So it’s going to be very important. We need the community’s help. If you’ve got a child, if you have a niece or a nephew, grandchildren that come through the Monroe County School District, please consider donating at our website. It’s where you can become a member. It’s where you can buy your tickets for Saturday, it’s where you can give a donation and you can stipulate where you want that donation to be applied to.”

Big Pine is the home of the National Key Deer Refuge and the new park ranger will be at the garden on Monday.

McRae said, “She’s a dynamic young lady that has taken over the National Key Deer Refuge park ranger position. She’s coming to Key West on Monday the 20th at one o’clock here at the Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden to do a presentation about what the National Key Deer Refuge is about, what all they do, what you get out of it and how they’re going to partner with this botanical garden going in the future. It’s going to be dynamic. This is a wonderful young lady. She’s all about conservation in nature. She’s one of these people that open book, she’ll just tell you in the words that you understand what’s going on around her and get you enthused. So come on by the garden on Monday at one o’clock. Members get in free, $5 per person otherwise, and it’ll be a great opportunity to learn more about our neighbor and what we’re doing with them between this garden and that National Key Deer Refuge.”

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