Outdoors, gardening and more: Fun activities for Mom


Pondering a gift for Mother’s Day? Does she enjoy nature or gardening? How about healthy lifestyles? Why not consider a unique experience gift this year? 

Through Extension, UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) offers a wide array of programs, including demonstration gardens, workshops to improve your green thumb, nutrition classes, the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) and much more. Experiences offer not only an opportunity for fun and learning, but a way to make memories and friends.

If she’s outdoorsy, mom might want to learn about Florida’s many trails, fishing opportunities, butterflies, birds and more. If so, she might want to sign up for the Master Naturalist Program.

“This Mother’s Day, consider treating yourself or someone you love to a Florida Master Naturalist Program course,” said Marty Main, professor of wildlife ecology and conservation and program director. “The FMNP offers 11 courses that provide opportunities to learn about and reconnect with Florida’s natural world with like-minded adults.”

So, whether your primary interest is to enjoy nature or to learn and share information about our natural world with your grandchildren or children, FMNP has much to offer, Main said.

But don’t just take Main’s word for it. See what others have to say.

"It’s the best thing I have ever done,” said Ellen Elliotuote, an FMNP volunteer. “I have learned so much, met so many wonderful people and found meaningful ways to get involved.” 

If mom likes to garden, she might want to attend a workshop or two. She might even be interested in training to be a Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV). Such programs teach lay people to become certified volunteers.

“Mother’s Day and flowers go hand in hand,” said Wendy Wilber, statewide coordinator for the Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program. “If moms want to learn about the care and maintenance of their blooming plants, they can contact the Master Gardener Volunteers at their county Extension office. The MGVs can share information and troubleshoot problems on any plant under the Florida sun.”

Beyond the garden, your mom also can learn about overall, sustainable lawn care with the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping (FFL) Program.

“Florida-Friendly Landscaping offers a wealth of resources for the whole family, from vegetable gardening to creating butterfly habitats,” said FFL Coordinator Claire Lewis. “In addition to enhancing the beauty of your yard, it provides a sustainable approach to landscape design and maintenance, helping to protect Florida’s water and natural resources for future generations.”

Maybe mom wants to live a healthier lifestyle. County Extension agents offer programs about nutritious food and even exercise.

“We can show you how food can be nutritious and also delicious,” said Andrea Nikolai, a family and consumer sciences agent and registered dietitian with UF/IFAS Extension Polk County. “And we can help you find meal solutions, foods to eat to feel your best, how to eat to stay young for your kids and grandkids, how to prevent diseases and some interesting tips that are fun to tell friends.”

Check out opportunities Mom can enjoy through your local county Extension office at sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office.