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Bonita & Estero Magazine

Everglades Wonder Gardens Sees 100 Volunteers Contribute 600 Hours of Work

Oct 10, 2017 02:47PM ● By Kevin

Connie McIntosh (left), who is on the Everglades Wonder Gardens board of directors, and her husband, Dr. Steve McIntosh.They made a lunch delivery on Oct. 6, that was donated by Pelican Nest's Country Club for the volunteers and staff. Photo courtesy of the Everglades Wonder Gardens Facebook page.

Everglades Wonder Gardens was a victim of much devastation at the hands of Hurricane Irma last month, and is still in need of help. The nonprofit attraction, which is a place for visitors to enjoy Botanical Gardens and see Florida's wildlife, has had an outpouring of support in the wake of the disaster. Volunteers have made a significant impact, according to the Gardens' Facebook page.

"Well over a 100 different volunteers contributed over 600 hours of their precious time," the page says. "Each volunteer hour is worth $23 per hour, worth over $13,000 in savings in labor costs during Gardens clean-up."

Debris removal is almost complete, so volunteers will focus their efforts now on exhibit enhancements and replanting the Gardens. They plan to reopen to the public on Nov. 5.

"This two month period that we are closed to public is causing financial hardship, we are almost totally dependent on earned revenue from ticket and gift shop sales," the page continues. "To offset the lost of revenue we have set up a temporary GoFundMe page."

Thus far, the Gardens have raised $8,550 on the page, with a goal of raising $100,000. A total of 83 people have helped accomplish the feat thus far in a 27-day span.

According to the page, the old specimen trees and palms were snapped and flattened, damaging many of the exhibits of rescue birds and reptiles.

"While the animals were safely housed in a single secure structure and well cared for throughout the storm, their enclosures need to be rebuilt and planted for them to return outdoors," the fundraising site says. "This greenspace has been a place where generations have come to enjoy natural beauty and wildlife, with a non-profit organization formed to sustain it."

Executive director Thomas Hecker reported about 80 percent of tree cover being destroyed by the storm, meaning the property, which spans 3.5 acres, is exposed to much more sunlight than it is used to.

The Brews for the Birds special event has been rescheduled to Nov. 4 at the Gardens, which is right before the reopening of the attraction. The event takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. Admission tickets include unlimited sampling from both home brewers and local craft breweries, enjoy the sounds of local musicians, and take in the sights of the Everglades Wonder Gardens. There will also be a variety of food trucks on site serving up tasty bites for all your dining needs.

The event is anticipated to sell out. Tickets are $25 for general admission, and $30 at the door, if there are tickets remaining. Drinking guests must be 21 to attend. Non-drinking guests can purchase tickets for $15. Click here to purchase tickets.

If you can't donate, volunteers are still welcome, and can simply show up any day of the week at 9 a.m. to start. For more information, contact the Everglades Wonder Gardens by visiting its website.

A drone video that was taken about one week after Hurricane Irma.