Children can see in person their source for conservation inspiration

Charlotte Corbeil, flanked by student volunteers Layla Severence, left, and Angelina Gaffey, are gearing up for the 2017 Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards children's art, photo and essay contest, which kicks off with a Viera Wetlands tour Feb. 18.

Children and their parents can save the date to tour the Viera Wetlands Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 and gain inspiration for the Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards youth art, photo and essay contest.

The tour will be led by Wetlands Ranger Ivan Green, a friend of the late Corbeil and fellow nature photographer and Florida Master Naturalist.

Families can find out more about the tour and the contest and children can enjoy nature-inspired arts and crafts at the Jan. 7, 2017 Color Me Healthy 5K & Fun Run from 8 to 11 a.m., see page 2.

"There is nothing like seeing the wetlands in person and at the same time knowing what it is you are looking at, and the significance of the many animals you can see and the particular plants and settings there that they depend on to thrive," said Green, who also has been involved with the organization of the Charlie Awards ― as they have come to be known in conservation circles ― as well as the selection of nominees.

Tour participants will meet in the Viera Wetlands parking lot and depart for the tour at 8 a.m. The tour will last about two hours, more depending on the level of interaction.

The organized tour is a valuable addition to the contest, said an event sponsor.

"That was something that Charlie loved, to share the wetlands with anyone who was interested in learning more, so it is perfect," said Charlotte Corbeil, Charlie's widow and sponsor of the cash prizes for the contest.

The Corbeils co-wrote a column called Parting Shot for the Viera Voice to accompany his photos. She resumed the column after Corbeil’s November 2013 death, now called Charlotte’s Web-Spinning Tales, and she invites budding photographers to supply the shots.

Charlotte sponsors the contest in Charlie's memory. Submissions will be displayed  at the April 14, 2017 Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards dinner at Heritage Isle Clubhouse and the following weekend April 22  and 23 at the Viera Wetlands Festival, of which Charlie Corbeil was a co-founder.

Corbeil said she hopes winners will be inspired to use their winnings to further conservation projects or education.

"It was a great way to reward these children, for them to come to the festival and get their check. But I think it is time to encourage them to delve in more deeply," she added.

The Viera Wetlands are at the west end of North Wickham Road on Charlie Corbeil Way. To register for the tour, email Green at For more information about the youth photography, art and writing contest, go to