Join the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out in Florida: April 2017

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We are pleased to announce the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out, which will take place at the Ashton Biological Preserve in northern Florida from April 14th to 16th, 2017! Florida has an incredible array of biodiversity, landscapes and ecosystems, and is home to about 57 known amphibian species, making it a perfect place to hold the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out. We will have an abundance of opportunities to find and photograph amphibians as we explore beautiful palm savannas, wetlands and pine forests. We hope you can camp out with us! Please sign up or send an email to trip leader Michael Starkey at if you are interested in joining SAVE THE FROGS! in Florida.

Destination | Meet Your Camp Out Leader | Trip itinerary | Prepare For The Camp Out | Trip Cost | Expression Of Interest Form

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What is the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out?
During the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out, we will explore Florida’s rich natural history, find fantastic frogs and literally camp out! Our inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out will take place at the Ashton Biological Preserve, a beautiful area with an abundance of wildlife. The Camp Out has been personally crafted to ensure an amazing, unique and thoroughly unforgettable experience that offers the best in nature, wildlife, and education.

Ashton sign

What kind of frogs should you expect to find in Florida?
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger visited the Ashton Biological Preserve in northern Florida in January 2015 and encountered many amazing amphibians, including the pine woods treefrog (Hyla femoralis), squirrel treefrog (Hyla squirella), Southern Toad (Bufo terrestris), the non-native greenhouse Frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris), Southern leopard frog (Rana sphenocephalus), Florida cricket frog (Acris gryllus dorsalis), American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), Southern spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer bartramiana), and the elusive Florida gopher Frog (Lithobates capito).

The Preserve’s low areas contain wetlands and sinkholes, and a variety of springs are found in the region due to the presence of the Floridian aquifer running beneath the Brooksville Ridge. Ashton Biological Preserve has permanent and ephemeral water sources on property and is home to breeding populations of gopher frogs (Lithobates capito), Eastern narrowmouth toads (Gastrophryne carolinensis), and pinewoods treefrogs (Hyla femoralis), as well as many other amphibian species. 

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The gopher frog, Lithobates capito, a near-threatened species that we will see during the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out

Nature awaits YOU on the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out
The SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out will take place at the beautiful Ashton Biological Preserve, which sits along the northern end of Brooksville Ridge, an area of rolling hills with xeric upland habitats, wooded hammocks, and sandhill habitat. The latter is particularly important for conservation because Florida has seen an 88% decline in the sandhill habitat since the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. Because much of Ashton Biological Preserve is undisturbed land, it’s a great location to observe many of Florida’s threatened and endangered species including Sherman’s fox squirrels (Sciurus niger shermani) and indigo snakes (Drymarchon couperi).

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Ashton Biological Preserve is home to mammals such as bobcats (Lynx rufus) and coyotes (Canis latrans).

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A bald eagle, spotted at Ashton!

Ashton Biological Preserve is visited by a large variety of birds as well. Red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus), southeastern American kestrels (Falco sparverius paulus), and loggerhead shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus) all hunt the fields in and around the Preserve, while songbirds like Eastern phoebes (Sayornis phoebe), Palm warblers (Setophaga palmarum), and Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) are frequent visitors.

Deer With Juveniles
A mother deer and her two fawns

Ashton Biological Preserve is a jewel of upland habitat that is refuge to many species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, and insects. Their preserve will continue to be a safe haven surrounded by an ever degrading environment.”
– Tony Daly Crews, President, Eastern Diamondback Conservation Foundation

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A gopher tortoise at Ashton Biological Preserve

Meet Your Trip Leader:
Michael Starkey – SAVE THE FROGS! International Campaigns Coordinator

Hi! My name is Michael Starkey and I am a biologist, ecotour leader, and public speaker working to educate and involve the public in wildlife conservation issues. Currently I serve as International Campaigns Coordinator for SAVE THE FROGS! and in this position, I rally together scientists, volunteers, and others in order to help broaden SAVE THE FROGS’ mission of conservation. I have given presentations around the world to inform the public about wildlife conservation and to help nurture a society that respects and appreciates nature and wildlife. I have participated in, coordinated and led ecotours to Belize and Costa Rica for six years! I now live in Gainesville, FL and I think Ashton Biological Preserve is the perfect place for the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out! I look forward to traveling with you to Florida in 2017!

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SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out Trip Leader Michael Starkey, SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Kerry Kriger, Ashton Biological Preserve Manage Chase Pirtle and a couple other frog savers!

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Southern Toad, Anaxyrus terrestris

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A beautiful sunset at Ashton Biological Preserve

The SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out will be graciously hosted by Ashton Biodiversity Research & Preservation Institute!
Ashton Biodiversity Research & Preservation Institute (ABRPI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered at Ashton Biological Preserve. Founded in 1996, ABRPI is a private, nonprofit conservation area and research facility. ABRPI conducts research on many types of wildlife native to the region, and specializes in tortoise care. They are a major captive breeding facility for the critically endangered radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata). They are also actively involved in conservation of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), native to Florida. ABRPI prides themselves on conducting educational and outreach programs designed to get the public interested and involved in caring for Florida’s wonderful ecosystems.

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ABPRI is dedicated to environmental education. They believe that by partnering with and educating the public, they can create a strong community of conservationists dedicated to protecting and preserving Florida’s critical wild areas.

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A gopher tortoise and a gopher frog share a burrow at Ashton Biological Preserve

Here is the Full Itinerary for the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out to Florida:

Friday, April 14th, 2017
5pm: Guests arrive
6:30-730pm: Dinner
7:30pm-9pm: Frogging!
9pm: Stargazing and drinks by the campfire

Saturday, April 15th, 2017
6:30-8am: Coffee, Tea
8-9: Breakfast
After breakfast, we will learn all about the conservation programs at Ashton Biological Preserve. We will meet their ambassador animals and learn about their endangered tortoise program.
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch
After lunch, we will take a hiking tour of the Ashton Biological Preserve. 
6:30-7:30pm: Dinner
7:30pm-9pm: Frogging and Blacklighting for insects
9pm: Stargazing and drinks by the campfire

Sunday, April 16th, 2017
6:30-8am: Coffee, Tea
8-9: Breakfast
10am: Goodbyes and depart for flights

Optional Sunday Field Excursion to See Alligators
Depending on your flight schedule, you may have time to join the SAVE THE FROGS! Crew for an opportunity to see alligators at Paynes Prairie State Park. For an additional $20 (Park entrance fee included), we will enter the Park together to see many alligators, wetland birds and possibly even bison!

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Did you expect to travel all the way to Florida and not see alligators?

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Rainbow above the Preserve

Prepare for the Camp Out
Traveling in Florida may be a different experience than what you are accustomed to, so we have written a few things we would love to pass along!

Physical fitness requirements
Most of our hikes during the day will be easy. Expect guided hikes to last 2-3 hours. We will travel slowly on the trails so that we will have a better chance of viewing wildlife. It is important to know that the trails may be slippery and muddy, so having good footing and closed-toes shoes are essential! Due to the limited time of the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out, it is expected that all participants stay together in order to maximize our experience at the Preserve.

Wear sunblock and stay hydrated
Florida is a semi-tropical state. While this is exciting, it comes with a few cautions: in particular, the sun is strong! Make sure to hydrate, wear sun protection, and get plenty of rest.

Planning to explore Florida before or after the Camp Out?
There is plenty to do in Florida so if you have extra time to enjoy the state, we are happy to advise you on hotel lodging and recommended locations. Please contact Michael Starkey with your possible schedule if you seek Florida travel advice:

Dietary preferences
The SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out to Florida can accommodate most dietary preferences and/or requirements, including vegan and vegetarian. All meals provided by SAVE THE FROGS! will be 100% vegetarian. Please inform us in advance of any dietary needs, in as much detail as possible.

Camping while in Florida
Participants are expected to bring their own camping tent, pad and sleeping bag. These items will not be provided by SAVE THE FROGS! or Ashton Biological Preserve. It is a Camp Out after all! Camping sites will be within a short walking distance to rest rooms with flushing toilets.

How do I get to Asthon Biological Preserve?
Ashton Biological Preserve is about 20 miles outside of Gainesville, FL. The road to Ashton from the main highway is dirt, so it takes about 45 minutes to reach the Preserve. Gainesville is about 1.5 hours from Jacksonville Airport (JAX). Participants are expected to arrange their own travel arrangements to get to the Preserve. That being said, we can help you! Asthon Biological Preserve volunteers are able to pick you up at the airport for a small fee to cover gas costs. Alternatively, you can rent a car from the airport. Please contact Michael Starkey with your questions:
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Looking for frogs at night is not the world’s safest activity. As such, drinking and frogging really don’t mix. We request that you not get anywhere remotely close to drunk prior to frogging. If you do feel the need for a dinnertime alcoholic beverage, we strongly suggest limiting it to one drink. Post-frogging, feel free to let loose by the campfire!

Yes! Lots of them! Breeding Eastern indigo snakes (Drymarchon couperi) are present, as well as large populations of Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes (Croatalus adamanteus), and pygmy rattlesnakes (Sisturus miliarius), among many other snake species. When hiking or venturing out at night, you must wear closed-toed shoes!

Age Restriction: 18+ to Camp Out!
Due to insurance reasons, unfortunately the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out is limited to individuals who are 18 years or older. Sorry!

“Volunteering at the Preserve gives me a chance to protect threatened species and learn about North Florida ecosystems. I go out to the Preserve to experience the natural world and learn about native species. The Preserve is a great place to get hands-on experience observing animals in the wild.”

– Ian, University of Florida PhD Student, Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Camp Out Cost

Are you ready to join SAVE THE FROGS! in Florida? Fabulous!
The 2017 SAVE THE FROGS! Florida Camp Out pricing is as follows:

– Base cost for one frog enthusiast: $395
– Base cost for two frog enthusiasts: $695
– Full time, 18+ years old students save $50 off base cost.

Your Camp Out payment will cover all your lodging fees at Ashton Biological Preserve, world-class guides and their scientific expertise, tips, and all meals. It is your responsibility to pay your own costs of airfare, travel to Ashton Biological Preserve, alcoholic beverages, optional adventure tourism activities and souvenirs.
Note again that you will be required to pay all your travel expenses to and from the Ashton Biological Preserve.

Full payment is due by March 15th, 2017. Failure to pay in full by March 15th, 2017 may result in forfeiture of your deposit money and your space on the Camp Out.  

All proceeds support SAVE THE FROGS! worldwide amphibian conservation efforts, enabling us to protect amphibians and promote a society that respects and appreciates wildlife and nature.

Register for the SAVE THE FROGS! Florida Camp Out If you are interested in this trip, please email Michael Starkey at so we can get you registered for this amazing adventure!

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In order to take part on this trip, you will be required to sign a waiver acknowledging the inherent risks of travel in Florida, and legally releasing SAVE THE FROGS! and affiliated trip operators and personnel from legal damages and consequences. Please do not apply unless you understand this and the implications. That being said, we are trained in Wilderness First Aid and we strive for a safe trip!

Cancellations and Refunds
You must notify us directly if you need to cancel your trip. If you need to cancel your trip, contact Michael Starkey at:

The amount of your refund is determined by the date that you notify SAVE THE FROGS! of your cancellation:
— If you cancel after March 15th, you forfeit your entire trip fee.
— If you cancel between February 15th and March 15th, you will receive 50% of trip fee.

SAVE THE FROGS! regrets that it cannot make exceptions to the reservation and cancellation policy for any reason, including personal emergencies. The reservation and cancellation policy applies to all reservations. You may want to consider purchasing travel insurance from a third party, so that if an issue arises (such as health or family concerns), then your travel insurance could likely provide you compensation.

We hope to see you in Florida in April 2017! If you are interested in taking part in the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out, please email Trip Leader Michael Starkey at:

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More than just a camping experience
We will get to indulge in many activities, day hikes, night hikes, touring a wildlife preserve and learning ways to improve our environments. There is sure to be lots of frog filled excitement through each place while learning about ecosystem dynamics, conservation, and environmental protection. With a group of SAVE THE FROGS! participants and your Camp Out Leader Michael Starkey there is sure to be lots of smiles, laughs, and learning going around.

Group Size
Our group will consist of one SAVE THE FROGS! biologist (Michael Starkey), Ashton Biological Preserve Manager & Naturalist Chase Pirtle and up to 16 total participants, for a grand total of 18 frog enthusiasts in our group.

Please email Michael Starkey ( with any questions and to inform of us of your interest in joining us in Florida.

Expression of Interest Form

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The gopher frogs hope you will join us for the SAVE THE FROGS! Camp Out!