ENGLEWOOD — Mia and Max are a brother-and-sister team who visit Englewood.
In their travels, they find the Cape Haze Pioneer Trail and Englewood Beach, the Boca Grande Lighthouse and more cool places. Along the way, they meet an imaginary sea turtle named Scout and learn about the animals and their habitats in Southwest Florida.
Mia, Max and Scout are the stars of the brand-new book, “The Adventures of Scout: Turtle Tales,” which is part of a new EYE on Nature Youth Explorers Club program — designed to introduce children to nature all around the area.
The 16-page color illustrated book is part of a kit that includes a cloth backpack, a journal and pen for field notes, a metal EYE On Nature medallion and a pewter sea turtle pin.
It also comes with a parent’s guide that can help families find the natural attractions and explore the exciting habitats of birds, marine mammals, turtles, native plants and more. These places include Lemon Bay Park and Environmental Center, Ceder Point Park and Environmental Park, the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum and more.
Kathy Castellano, who headed the EYE On Nature project with Englewood Chamber of Commerce, said the goal was to create resource for grandparents and others whose families visit the area and want to do more than just go to the beach.
“The book and the EYE On Nature backpack has good information in it and is fun for children to have talks about the environment and how to keep the environment safe,” said Kathy Castellano, chair of the EYE On Nature committee.
The chamber teamed up with the Englewood Florida Chamber Tourism Assembly and Englewood Community Services Inc. with support from the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau and Visit Sarasota County to make the program a reality.
“The Adventures of Scout: Turtle Tales,” was written by author and Sarasota resident Lucy Beebe Tobias and illustrated by Englewood writer and artist Becky Barbier. Local businesses Farlow’s on The Water and Michael Saunders & Company paid to print the first book, which was edited by members of the Barrier Island Parks Society.
“The next book is about shore birds. Each book gives children good outside activities at different parks in Charlotte and Sarasota counties to see where turtles and birds live. They make it an activity.”
The chamber also wants to launch the program at local schools for fourth graders and libraries in the future.
On the way to Englewood is a Scout mascot costume they plan to use at local functions to promote EYE On Nature.
“We will look for two new business sponsors to pay for the second book in the series,” Castellano said. “Mary Smedley of Michael Saunders also paid for the turtle pins. The objective is for the children to complete a task from the book and then they get a pin to put on the lanyard.”
The backpack kit can be purchased at the Englewood Chamber when it reopens or online at BestSideYourSide.com for $25, with $5 donated to Community Organizations Active in a Disaster Florida fund for Charlotte County.
“BestSideYourSide.com was created to support local businesses and really bring the community together,” said Wendie Vestfall, Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau Director of Tourism. “We’re humbled to see it grow with the addition of the EYE On Nature program, and thrilled to add the educational component for kids that can be used right now for outdoor activities while at the same time serve as an additional contribution toward COADFL.”
For information, call the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau at 941-743-1900 or the Englewood Chamber of Commerce at 941-474-5511.