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Tour of Grace Rides, a Therapeutic Riding Center
with Sherry Hall
Course Description: The aim when Grace Rides started in 2008 was to continue the good work of RACE (Riding for Adults and Children with Exceptionalities), Okaloosa County’s first therapeutic riding program. This tour will showcase the nonprofit therapeutic riding center’s use of horses to invest in the lives of people of all different abilities. Tour participants will hear about the benefits of using horses as healers: equine-assisted activities and therapies for individuals with special needs in a loving community.
Notes: This one-time tour will meet on Tuesday February 27 at: Grace Rides 2061 Corbin Gainey Road Defuniak Springs, FL 32435 Afterwards, an optional Dutch-treat lunch will be at: Bogey’s Restaurant 660 Baldwin Ave. Defuniak Springs This will be followed by a self-guided walking tour of the charming downtown of Defuniak Springs.
Class Leader Bio(s): Executive Director, Sherry Hall, founded Grace Rides with her husband in 2008, and has a lifetime of farm life, horse management, and horseback riding. She is a PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (CTRI).
Tour of Veterans Park
with Carolyn Ketchel
Course Description: This one-time tour on March 1 will be a cultural and environmental experience. Veterans Park includes 1700 ft. of ADA accessible paved sidewalks and wooden boardwalks along the Choctawhatchee Bay coastline. Monuments of women who have served and made significant contributions in the U.S. Military are arranged along a picturesque trail of our native wildlife and vegetation’s natural beauty. Park on the northeast corner of the Emerald Coast Conference Center.
Notes: This one-time class will meet on Friday, March 1, at Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island, 1300 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE in Fort Walton Beach. Park on the northeast corner of the Emerald Coast Conference Center.
Class Leader Bio(s): County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel has been recognized many times for her illustrious and altruistic contributions to our community. Carolyn led the idea for the park by advocating for the preservation of its natural beauty while simultaneously giving recognition to the women who have served the United States in combat.
Tour of Alaqua Animal Refuge
with Paul Arthur
Course Description: Alaqua rescues everything from dogs, cats and farm animals to native Florida wildlife. The visit will include a tour of the property and zone talks with the animal care staff to learn about the daily rehabilitation of the animals after their rescue, readying them for adoption. (Please note that the Rehabilitation Center will not be included as part of this tour, as it is not open to the public.)
Notes: This one-time tour will meet on Tuesday March 5 at 10:30 at: Alaqua Animal Refuge 155 Dugas Way Freeport, FL 32439 Afterwards, an optional Dutch-treat lunch will be at The Bay restaurant, 24215 Hwy 331 South, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459.
Class Leader Bio(s): Paul Arthur is Executive Director of Alaqua, having joined in October 2022. He previously ran the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center for 12 years.
Tour of Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
with Bruce Williams
Course Description: The guided hike will cover some of the different ecotones at the state park, plus plant life, trees, animals, history, various water sources, etc. The ranger will showcase different areas, inspiring visitors to leave with an appreciation of the park’s many natural resources.
Notes: This one-time tour will meet on Wednesday March 6, at: Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park 4281 State Road 20 Niceville, FL Afterward, an optional Dutch-treat lunch will be at Tisano’s, 4506 Florida Highway 20, Suite 150, in Niceville.
Class Leader Bio(s): Bruce Williams is a certified Florida Master Naturalist, and has been a Park Ranger for the Florida Park Service for several years.