Welcome to the Crowley Museum & Nature Center

changing water levels myakka river
Changing Water Level on the Myakka River

The changing water level on the Myakka River is amazing. We wanted to take a moment to share with you the impressive and frightening amount of water that accumulated on the Crowley Museum & Nature Center’s east side bordering the Myakka River following Hurricane Ian. Standing next to these trees is our Mr. Eric. With his work boots on he is 6’2”. Can you see the line where the trees and their branches are darker, stained by tannins and soil? This was the high water mark! Over 8’ of rushing water full of debris both natural and man made and…
Selby Foundation Grant for New Tractor

With a true and deep gratitude we wish to announce that the Selby Foundation awarded us a fall cycle grant to purchase a new Kubota M6060HD. As part of our ongoing Hurricane Ian recovery this machine will be invaluable. We are so grateful that this generous foundation understood the impact that such a strong piece of equipment would have on our operations. With this machine we will work, give hayrides and open to the public sooner. We’ve never had a day of tractor work that did not include repairs. Ole Bess is wonderful but not reliable. She will be repaired…
Tractor and Tree Cookies
Ol Bessie She’s a John Deere 5310

You know who doesn’t get enough recognition? Ol Bessie. She’s a John Deere 5310 with some age related ailments and a little fern growing in her worn lemon yellow seat. This gal really works her heart out. Though she’s constantly needing tune ups and TLC, she does well for such an old lady and we are grateful for her. We don’t know how much longer she’ll run but every day that she does is helpful. Ol Bessie may be a fartin’, belchin’, smelling, fluid leaking, groaning and squeaking hot mess express BUT, in all her decades of service how many…
Volunteer Weekend
Post Ian Volunteer Clean Up Weekend a Success

Volunteer Clean Up Update – Yesterday was the first day since Hurricane Ian hit that we did not have to force an angry chainsaw to snarl and bark its constructive violence to life. In the natural quiet on a beautiful CMNC I’m starting to recognize again, I was able to reflect on this weekend’s volunteer clean up. Up until this past weekend, every day’s work seemed extensive, exhausting, and utterly minuscule in the grand scale of damage that we sustained. It was daunting and exhausting. A small crew of us has worked endlessly and removing trees only showed us other…
New Cracker Cows
Crowley Welcomes New Cracker Cows to the Herd

This weekend we went to Webster Florida for the annual cracker cows/cattle sale. Once a year you can add registered animals of this rare heritage breed to your herd from many excellent farms and ranches. Please help us welcome our 2 newest ladies, they are the darker ones in the center of this photo. On the left is our cracker herd bull, “Crowley” he is loudly talking about and drooling over these 2 beautiful gals he just met. Center left, welcome Mabel, she is a 4 year old pregnant cracker cow originally from the Paynes Prairie herd. She was very…
tree work continues
Tree Work Continues

The tree work continues with our faithful little crew. The Sartwells have been working on cutting through massive trees and currently the goat pasture. They’re clearing fences so that we can repair them. Mr. Roy has been clearing a massive oak on pine level trail. Eric & Dixie made the Iris trail and boardwalk accessible. Slowly things improve but so much more needs to be done. We are so grateful for the faithful volunteers who continue to arrive with their own equipment and continue to work on the massive destruction Hurricane Ian left. If you’d like to help please contact…
Tractor and Tree Cookies
Tractor and Tree Cookies

After Hurricane Ian came through a tree clean-up crew left a few massive pieces of an ancient oak WAY TO CLOSE to the road near us in Old Miakka. Many people had close calls when semi trucks, vehicles with trailers etc., had to compensate for it and came into the other lane to do so. This massive debris was left near a blind curve adjacent to the entrance of Hidden River. Close calls happened to our people too so we decided to do something. We went to move it with Ol Bess, our Old John Deere 5310. The piece on…
CNN visits Crowley
CNN visits Crowley

CNN visits Crowley – The second day after Ian we were exhausted and still a bit shocked and dazed as we assessed the new reality of CMNC. We were immediately addressing any major safety issues that could harm our beloved animals. We still had no electricity, water, phones or internet. It was late afternoon when I found a few large dead eels by the tool barn that I was explaining to Mr Eric. We heard tires on the washed out driveway and to our surprise there were our devoted volunteers Mrs Mary and David Sartwell. They’d come to check on…
Clean Up Continues

Every day clean up continues. The professional crews that we paid to do the critical trees are gone. The faithful Crowley volunteer crew remains, we are deeply grateful for them. Some of these beautiful trees were ancient and massive. We loved all of them, so we will save what we can to make new creations and repairs using our own sawmill. Some debris that is in the woods will be left there for habitat and to naturally decay. The rest will be burned. Every day and on every trail it seems that you can only walk 20 feet or even…
celebrating conservation
Celebrating Conservation The Crowley Museum forever preserved

Celebrating Conservation! Last night Sarasota County held a celebration and public meeting regarding the addition of several hundred acres conserved in the Old Miakka area. Including, effective August 31, 2022, CMNC! Among the speakers was our own Christine Johnson! Christine was an instrumental player in the conservation of the Crowley Museum & Nature Center. Along with her staff Debi Osborne & Lee Amos who are unsung heroes and absolute wealth of knowledge, they guided CMNC’s CEO & Board of Directors through the long and involved process to protect the rare jewel that is Crowley. Externally we were lead brilliantly by…
Tree Work begins
Tree Work Begins

The major tree work clearing the buildings starts today. Wish us luck that all goes well and the damage we reveal is repairable. To contribute to our clean up efforts so that we can get back to teaching students AND have your donation doubled at no additional cost of you please donate here- To see videos of work being done visit
Crowley Hurricane Ian Update
Hurricane Ian Update

Hello, Dixie here with a hurricane Ian update. Thank you all for the outpouring of messages and calls checking in on us. First let me say that the most important parts of CMNC, are uninjured. The people and animals are ok. A great deal of consideration went in to protecting the livestock and assets at CMNC. Having said that, we took a considerable amount of damage. We are still assessing it. By some cracker miracle, the Tatum House is unharmed besides one window. the same for the Florida Native Village replica. Unfortunately this is not the case for the rest…
red saved the herd
Red Saves the Herd

I’ve seen lots of gratitude posts in the wake of Ian. I intend to post many because we are so grateful for the small kindnesses we have received so far. But, I’d like to start from the beginning. This is not your traditional thank you post- it is a human to bovine thank you, but I assure you with complete certainty that my depth and sincerity are as deep as they would be if this little lady were human. This is Red. She is a 4 year old cracker heifer born as a complete surprise July 17, 2018 to a…
Ian Aftermath Lucky, Fortunate or Blessed

Ian aftermath… it is entirely possible to feel lucky, fortunate or blessed while still feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry and even heartbroken. The natural world and weather can be incredibly destructive, unpredictable and unforgiving at times. But, in all cases, the natural world is what makes our survival possible. It’s a beautiful and complex existence for all that share this Earth. Nature can and will heal itself, as we must, trying to learn living in harmony with it. New life will spring where old life was lost. The mighty oaks, the wildlife, the pines, all that were lost allow space for…
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