Archived Blogs & Articles

Posted: 12/5/2013
Hillsborough County Offers FREE 2014 ELAPP Calendar
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Free 2014 Jan K. Platt Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP) calendars are now available at Hillsborough County libraries. Calendars are also available at the following Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department offices:

  • Bell Creek Office, 10940 McMullen Road in Riverview
  • Cockroach Bay Preserve Office, 3709 Gulf City Road in Ruskin
  • Lake Frances Preserve Office, 10225 Woodstock Road in Odessa
  • Upper Tampa Bay Park, 8001 Double Branch Road in Tampa
  • Lettuce Lake Park, 6920 E. Fletcher Ave. in Tampa

The calendar features winning photos from an ELAPP site photo contest.

Supplies are limited. For more information, contact Hillsborough County Conservation Services at (813) 672-7876.

See the ELAPP calendar photo contest images on Facebook

Posted: 12/5/2013
Want to be a SCUBAnaut? Find out more at open house Dec. 9th
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SCUBAnauts International™(SNI) is creating a new Tampa chapter and is having an open house to promote the program and attract new participants. The event will be from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, on December 9th, in the Channelside Room at the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa. (map)

The SNI marine science education program (previously SCUBA Scouts USA) was founded by CAPT David Olson in Palm Harbor, Florida, in May of 2001 in an effort to introduce young men and women, ages 12-18, to informal science education through underwater exploration. Due to the scientific rather than recreational nature of SNI, SCUBAnauts soon created their own identity.

SNI has grown considerably in the Tampa Bay area, has received favorable notoriety nationally, and has been very successful in preparing and assisting participating youth through meet leadership opportunities that will ultimately produce our best hope for successful citizens and leaders of tomorrow. The addition of a Tarpon Springs chapter in September 2008 is focused towards exploring the undocumented reefs of the Springs Coast of West Florida. This new information will provide scientsits with baseline data to monitor these reefs. A Key West Chapter was formed in July 2009, which plans to monitor and educate locals about the Florida Key's vital coral reef ecosystems. The Lake Hitchcock Chapter in Western Massachusetts, established in October 2009, is providing unique opportunities to underpriviledged youth in the region and promoting interest in science through SCUBA diving.

SNI looks forward to the challenge of increasing the opportunity for young explorers and leaders of tomorrow. These challenges are met by enlisting new members, recruiting top notch mentors, and continuing to establish new SNI Chapters nationwide and internationally.

The new Tampa chapter will focus on springs resources.

Open House Flyer


ChrisCeaser,SCUBAnauts International,

Posted: 12/5/2013
Call for Entries: Future of the Region Awards
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Sponsored by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council

Do you have a project or program that exemplifies regionalism?
The Future of the Region Awards highlights projects and programs that exemplify regionalism, and recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions that benefit the regional community.

Download the Call for Entries here to learn more about the Future of the Region Awards and for information on submitting your project or program for award consideration. Categories include Community Service, Cultural/Sports/Recreation, Natural Resources/Environment, Development/Infrastructure, Public Education and Going Green (green building, sustainability, alternative energy). The deadline for entry is Friday, January 10, 2014.

The 22nd Annual Future of the Region Awards event will be held on Friday, March 28th, 2014, 11:45 a.m. at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park. The Future of the Region Awards event highlights projects and programs that exemplify regionalism, and recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions that benefit the regional community. Event registration will begin in January 2014.

How to submit your project or program for consideration


WrenKrahl,Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council,
phone:(727) 570-5151 ext. 22.

Posted: 12/2/2013
Homeless Recovery Office to Close December 31

Hillsborough County is working with non-profit organizations to transition to a new model for delivering assistance to the homeless. As part of this transition, the County’s Homeless Recovery Office, located at 2410 N. Tampa St., will close on December 31, 2013. Current clients will be assisted through the end of the year; however, no new clients will be accepted into the Homeless Recovery Program after November 30. During this transition, any homeless individual needing help should be referred to one of the County’s five Neighborhood Service Centers which are located throughout the County and listed below:

Lee Davis Center
3402 N. 22nd St., Tampa, FL 33605
P: 813-272-5220

Plant City Center
307 N. Michigan, Plant City, FL 33566
P: 813-757-3871

Ruskin (SouthShore) Center
201 14th Ave. SE, Ruskin, FL 33570
P: 813-671-7647

University Community Resource Center
13605 N. 22nd St., Tampa, FL 33613
P: 813-975-2153

West Tampa Center
2103 N. Rome Ave., Tampa, FL 33607
P: 813-272-5074

Posted: 11/27/2013
Experts in Tampa underscore dangers of unsafe toys

TAMPA — An imitation smartphone that plays music loud enough to cause hearing loss. A toddler's play mat laced with antimony. A plastic action figure so small it could lodge in a child's throat.

Those are a few of the children's toys showcased Tuesday at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital as examples of the many "dangerous" and "toxic" items that are still widely available for purchase. The gathering, organized by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and Florida Public Interest Research Group, highlighted the dangers of such seemingly harmless toys and served as a call for greater regulations to prevent them from entering the marketplace.

"Just because a toy is on the shelf doesn't mean it is completely safe," said Castor, D-Tampa. She pointed to PIRG's annual Trouble in Toyland report, the result of a research effort that revealed an assortment of potentially harmful toys available for sale.

Among the report's findings were high levels of lead and other toxic substances in many toys. Those include the Lamaze Take and Tidy Activity Mat, a large toddler's play mat in which PIRG found traces of antimony, a toxic element. And there was the Chat and Count Smart Phone, an imitation phone whose various noises register at 85 decibels, well beyond the 65-decibel limit imposed under federal law.

Continued in The Tampa Bay Times...

Posted: 11/22/2013
Rate of uninsured kids drops in U.S., Florida

More Florida children have health insurance, but the state still has one of the nation's highest rates of uninsured kids, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

Not quite 11 percent of Florida children — about 436,000 — lack health insurance, a rate that is still higher than the national average rate of 7.2 percent, the report says. Florida ranks among the top six states with the highest numbers of uninsured children, according to the study.

"Florida can continue to make progress and cover the remaining uninsured children by removing roadblocks such as the five year waiting period for children of lawfully residing immigrants," Leah Barber-Heinz of Florida CHAIN said in a statement.

Continued in the Tampa Bay Times

Posted: 11/15/2013
Hillsborough adoption celebration sees 22 children in new families

TAMPA — The five children — three girls and two boys — sat at a long table below the judge's bench, each clutching a large stuffed bear. They rested at Sarah Davis' side, the girls in red and black dresses, the boys wearing vests and ties, as a beaming Judge Elizabeth Rice asked all the required questions.

"Do you believe these children are suitable for adoption?"

"Yes," Davis answered.

"Do you feel you are a fit and proper parent?"

"Absolutely, I am."

Davis, a 46-year-old single mother, has cared for her two daughters, Vanessa, 10, and Gracie, 9, since she adopted them both nine years ago. And for the last five of those nine years, she was a foster mother to three others; Ceinna, 9; Michael, 7; and Dominic, 5.

And now, on Friday morning, in a dim, quiet courtroom where more than a dozen other families sat and waited for their turn before the judge, Davis' family of three, expanded to six.

"It is now formal, and it is now final," Judge Rice said. "These children now have their forever home."

The hearing was one of about a dozen adoption proceedings that took place Friday morning at the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse as part of the Hillsborough National Adoption Day Celebration, a project of the child welfare and foster care group, Eckerd Community Alternatives.

In all 22 kids gained new families, many of whom had cared for them as foster children. Outside the courtroom doors, a crowd of about 300 filled a lobby. Over the din of children's laughter and shouts of congratulations, new parents stopped to snap photos with their adopted sons and daughters.

Continued in the Tampa Bay Times...

Posted: 11/14/2013
Free Child Care Provider Training Offered
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Hillsborough County Extension Service, in association with the University of Florida, is offering free trainings for licensed child care providers in Hillsborough County.

Workshops will be held at the Hillsborough County Extension Service office, 5339 County Road 579 in Seffner. Each is 2 hours in length, and participants can receive 0.2 CEUs per class from the University of Florida. Pre-registration is required. No walk-ins, please.

To register, go to and click on the green “State Training” tab at the bottom of page, then choose “Florida,” then “Tampa." Find the workshop you want to register for. The workshops are free if you click “yes” when asked if you have a child from a military family in your care or if you are licensed in Hillsborough County. The cost for providers outside of Hillsborough County is $10 per workshop.

Workshops through Sept. 24th:
— 7/16/2013, 7:00 PM, What Does "Time" Mean to Children?
— 8/8/2013, 1:00 PM, Creating Special Moments with Infants and Toddlers
— 8/8/2013, 9:00 AM, Avoid Behavior Problems - Teach Self-Control
— 8/9/2013, 9:00 AM, What Does "Time" Mean to Children?
— 8/10/2013, 9:00 AM, Rock Solid Foundations: Friendship and Play Skills
— 8/13/2013, 6:45 PM, Avoid Behavior Problems - Teach Self-Control
— 8/24/2013, 9:00 AM, Rock Solid Foundations: Emotional Literacy
— 9/5/2013, 6:45 PM, Rock Solid Foundations: Responsive Environments
— 9/10/2013, 6:45 PM, Math for Every Age
— 9/14/2013, 9:00 AM, Art Appreciation 101 for Young Children
— 9/24/2013, 6:45 PM, Art Appreciation 101 for Young Children


DianaConverse,Hillsborough County Extension,, 5339 County Rd 579, Seffner, FL.33584-3334
phone:(813) 744-5519 x 54140.

Posted: 11/8/2013
Unused Business Supplies Destined for Hillsborough County Students
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The Board of County Commissioners approved a $25,000 annual agreement with Hillsborough Education Foundation for their Teaching Tools for Hillsborough Schools Program at the Nov. 6 regular board meeting. This program helps the non-profit put needed school supplies in students’ hands.

The Teaching Tools program collects unused and reusable materials from local businesses, including but not limited to: obsolete office supplies, castoffs, overruns and manufacturing by-products generated in the commercial sector. These items are then distributed free of charge to students in Title 1 schools through the program’s teachers store at 2306 N. Howard Ave. in Tampa.

The funding from the County assists with the administrative expenses and overhead costs associated with the collection, storage and distribution of materials. Hillsborough County first became involved in the Teaching Tools program in 2005 as a way to reduce the volume of commercial waste and promote the positive reuse of businesses castoffs.

According to the Hillsborough Education Foundation:

  • 56 percent of Hillsborough County Public Schools are classified as Title 1. This means that more than 75 percent of the students at these schools are considered economically disadvantaged, and may not be able to afford the most basic school supplies.
  • Teaching Tools currently serves 120 Title 1 schools and educational sites throughout the district, reaching more than 2,300 teachers and 60,000 at-risk students every year.
  • Since 2002, Hillsborough Education Foundation has distributed more than $13 million in free school supplies.

Businesses can learn more about product and financial donations by contacting Fred Weber at or 813-574-0280. To learn more about the Teaching Tools program at the Hillsborough Education Foundation visit their website:

Posted: 11/4/2013
Health Fair / Feria de la Salud – Nov. 6th

< FREE Admission and Refreshments
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
10 am – 12 pm
Children's Board, 1002 E. Palm Ave, Tampa 33605
(Ybor City, corner of Palm Avenue and Nebraska)

Learn about the Affordable Health Care Act
Health Screenings and Services
Children’s Services
Elderly Services
Prevention and Nutrition


  • Phoenix Home Health
  • Florida Dept. of Health
  • Hispanic Services Council
  • Alzheimers Association
  • Enroll America
  • Tampa Bay KidCare
  • Florida Consumer Action Network
  • Agricultural Extension Services
  • Democratic Disability Caucus
  • AARP
  • Food & Water Watch

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