Education Programs & Events

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COVID-19 Updates

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Closures, Cancellations and Updates Related to Coronavirus.

We have limited group sizes to comply with social distancing.  Please check out our online and in-person program offerings.  Face coverings are required to participate in certain programs.

Please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org if you have any questions regarding our programs. 

Register online for Sunday Yoga at the NEST

EcoEvents: Outdoor Education Programs & Events Calendar

All of our public events are open to individuals and immediate family members. For groups, we ask that each family register individually. Large group reservations for public programs will not be accepted. If you have a school, camp, club, or other group that would like to participate in a program, please contact sarah.denison@mymanatee.org to set up a private program.

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DECEMBER 2020 CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Download a printable version of the December Calendar of Events

Wednesday Dec 2nd, 8:30 AM - 10:30 AM - Manatee Audubon Society Birding Tour: Emerson Point - Search the skies for Florida’s fabulous fliers! Our Audubon guide will lead participants on a tour through Emerson Point’s coastal hammock and mangrove habitats. Check out the “locals” as well as the migratory birds that are wintering here. Program suitable for all ages. Program sponsored by the Manatee County Audubon Society in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Program limited to 12 participants. Reservations are required. To register please call (941) 592-7622. Emerson Point Preserve - Visitor’s Center

Wednesday Dec 2nd, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM - Soar in 4 Family Night - Due to COVID-19, the Soar in 4 model has transitioned to a monthly drive-thru program the first Wednesday of each month, held in Bradenton.  Each month a new ‘spotlight book’ will be featured. Families drive by 14 demonstration tables (facilitated by Manatee County teachers, non-profit organizations and volunteers) to learn how to use various materials to support the ‘spotlight book,’ as well as incorporate take-home items to continue to play, create, learn, and explore at home together. These monthly events provide families with the resources and information to become their child’s best ‘first teacher’ at home. All activities are aligned to classroom learning. Program suitable for children and their families. No reservations required. For more information please visit https://www.soarin4.org/ DeSoto Mall - Macy’s Parking Lot

Thursday Dec 3rd, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Conservatory Butterfly Count - Moths, caterpillars, and butterflies oh my! Volunteer to keep track of butterfly biodiversity at our friendly neighborhood park. Bring your camera, guide books, and sense of adventure for a day out in the woods studying these fascinating fliers. Start your very own butterfly checklist while learning how to identify native species. Program suitable for volunteers 16 and over. Program sponsored by the Wings Over Florida Butterfly Program in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Reservations are required. To register please contact michelle.leahy@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6035. Conservatory Park

Friday Dec 4th, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Tall Tails Tribe: ABC Hike - A is for ant and B is for bark. What do you think C will stand for? Come and join other preschoolers on a nature hike searching for all the letters of the alphabet. We will trek through Conservatory Park exploring different habitats and discovering new nature words. Program suitable for Preschool age children. Reservations are required. To register please contact coral.bass@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6034. Conservatory Park

Saturday Dec 5th, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM - Youth Archery Session 1 - Set your sights on the exciting outdoor activity of archery! This program will provide participants with basic archery instruction, familiarization with archery equipment, and instruction in shooting techniques that create successful archers. All equipment will be provided for use. Program is suitable for children ages 6 to 16. Program sponsored by the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/129504592723 For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org Rye Preserve - Sheriff's Youth Ranch

Saturday Dec 5th, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Youth Archery Session 2 - Set your sights on the exciting outdoor activity of archery! This program will provide participants with basic archery instruction, familiarization with archery equipment, and instruction in shooting techniques that create successful archers. All equipment will be provided for use. Program is suitable for children ages 6 to 16. Program sponsored by the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/129505752191. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org Rye Preserve - Sheriff's Youth Ranch

Saturday Dec 5th, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Youth Archery Session 3 - Set your sights on the exciting outdoor activity of archery! This program will provide participants with basic archery instruction, familiarization with archery equipment, and instruction in shooting techniques that create successful archers. All equipment will be provided for use. Program is suitable for children ages 6 to 16. Program sponsored by the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/129506558603. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org Rye Preserve - Sheriff's Youth Ranch

Saturday Dec 5th, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Saturday Mornings at the NEST - Join us at the Mosaic Center for Nature, Exploration, Science, and Technology for a morning of exploration. Walk the grounds of the historic Reasoner Tract and observe botanical giants collected from around the world. Explore the canopy boardwalk among the banyans, climb to the top of the crow’s nest, take in breathtaking panoramic views, and make an exciting exit from the building via slide. Learn about upcoming programs and exciting new additions to Robinson Preserve. Program suitable  for  all  ages. Face coverings are required to enter the building. No reservations required. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org Robinson Preserve - Mosaic NEST

Saturday Dec 5th, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM - Robinson Preserve Paddle Yoga - A beautiful guided paddleboard yoga class in Robinson Preserve. The session includes brief on land instructions and demonstrations for beginners to get a feel for the sport and for experienced practitioners to improve their technique. Next, is a short paddle journey followed by an anchored yoga session on the boards. Each class is suitable for all levels, with options available for experienced practitioners to make their session more challenging, as well as gentle modifications for those seeking a restorative experience. Experience the zen and bliss of yoga in the gorgeous location of Robinson's Preserve. Program suitable for adults. Program sponsored by the Salty Buddha Paddle & Yoga Co. in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Board & equipment is included in the session price. Online registration is required at least 24 hours in advance. To register please visit https://www.saltybuddhaco.com/registration For more information please call (941) 932-3671. $37 Participant Fee. Robinson Preserve

Saturday Dec 5th, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM - Families Flock Together: Ornament Making - Nature provides us with great materials for creating beautiful works of art! In this program, we will use natural materials to create special holiday ornaments. These handmade projects will be perfect for decorating your holiday tree, and make for a lovely, thoughtful gift. Don’t forget to bring your creativity! Program suitable for all ages. Face coverings are required to participate. Reservations are required. Please visit https://parks.mymanatee.org/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/search.html?module=AR&fmid=36152531. For more information please contact elena.burke@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6036. $5 Materials Fee Payable Online. Emerson Point Preserve - Freeman and Mable Horton Field Study Station

Sunday Dec 6th, 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM - Rise & Shine Yoga - Revitalize and Rejuvenate your Mind, Body & Spirit! This yoga class is designed to blend awareness of breath, physical movement & mindfulness to promote clarity of mind while developing physical strength and stamina, increasing flexibility, burning calories and detoxifying the body! Increase your overall well-being by ending & beginning your week with this empowering & uplifting flow! Program suitable for adults. Program sponsored by Brandy Gray of MomWifeSOUL Yoga in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Participants must provide their own yoga mats. Online registration is highly encouraged as spaces are limited. To register please visit https://parks.mymanatee.org/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/search.html?primarycode=110006. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6042. $10 Participant Fee Payable online. Robinson Preserve - Mosaic NEST

Monday Dec 7th - Saturday Dec 12th - Explorers' Academy Virtual Learning: Mighty MigratORS Week - Explore the great migrations that take place each year across Florida with our education staff on the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department Facebook page!  New videos will be released on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday which feature general information, story time, kids activities, and a virtual preserve tour.  Tune in each day to learn about the annual adventures of Florida's wildlife both near and far! Program suitable  for  all  ages. No reservations required. For more information please visit https://www.facebook.com/manatee.parks.natural.resources or contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org Virtual Event - Watch on Facebook or YouTube

Tuesday Dec 8th, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Leffis Key Stroller Stroll - Round up your baby buggies, and your little ones for a strolling naturalist-led walk through the county's wild spaces. Open your child’s eyes to the sights, smells, and feel of Florida’s great outdoors while learning about our preserves. Meet other nature explorer families with similar aged kids. Program suitable for 0- 4 year olds and their families. Reservations are required. To register please contact coral.bass@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6034. Leffis Key Preserve

Saturday Dec 12th, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Master Gardener Tour: Riverview Pointe Preserve - Casually stroll through to enjoy the beautiful Riverview Pointe Preserve and learn about Florida's native plants and inhabitants of a coastal environment. Suitable for all ages. Tour begins in the parking area of DeSoto National Memorial Park and enters into Riverview Pointe Preserve. Reservations Required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/riverview-pointe-preservedesoto-national-memorial-nature-and-plant-id-tour-tickets-123346567905?fbclid=IwAR0W0SAxqryYpp1vW1Siaqms580WGWJjbuXpsNwkEcJAcFfHRQMiLU5fWEs Riverview Pointe Preserve

Saturday Dec 12th, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Master Gardener Tour: Emerson Point Preserve - Casually stroll through to enjoy the beautiful Emerson Point Preserve and learn about Florida's native plants and inhabitants of a coastal environment. Suitable for all ages. Please meet at the first parking area on the RIGHT at the Observation Tower (not at the classroom) at 9AM. Reservations Required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/emerson-point-preserve-nature-and-plant-id-tour-tickets-122699095297?fbclid=IwAR2nMRyD0548s-6j0YuVmIV5BBmkTr4NQ0ku77Te3A7H1kjtTSr3KC_8umI Emerson Point Preserve - Observation Tower Parking Lot

Saturday Dec 12th, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM - A Night Before Christmas AT GT BRAY PARK - Get ready for an evening of family fun at the annual A Night Before Christmas event at GT Bray!  Santa will make an appearance at the park to greet all who wish to see him. The event will include drive-through light displays, letters to Santa, Christmas music, and plenty of holiday cheer! This awesome event is great for kids of all ages. A suggested donation per child of a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to Toys for Tots is kindly requested for entry to the event.  Please enter on 59th Street and exit on 51st Street. No reservations required. Drive-through ONLY event. For more information please visit https://www.mymanatee.org/departments/parks___natural_resources/programs_events/signature_events/night_before_christmas or contact parksevents@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6047. GT Bray Park

Sunday Dec 13th, 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM - Rise & Shine Yoga - Revitalize and Rejuvenate your Mind, Body & Spirit! This yoga class is designed to blend awareness of breath, physical movement & mindfulness to promote clarity of mind while developing physical strength and stamina, increasing flexibility, burning calories and detoxifying the body! Increase your overall well-being by ending & beginning your week with this empowering & uplifting flow! Program suitable for adults. Program sponsored by Brandy Gray of MomWifeSOUL Yoga in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Participants must provide their own yoga mats. Online registration is highly encouraged as spaces are limited. To register please visit https://parks.mymanatee.org/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/search.html?primarycode=110006 For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6042. $10 Participant Fee Payable online. Robinson Preserve - Mosaic NEST

Wednesday Dec 16th, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Longleaf Pinecone Collection - Join County staff and fellow volunteers for an adventurous trek to the heart of Duette Preserve to collect the cones of the longleaf pine!  Once common throughout the Southeastern United States, decades of logging and deforestation have greatly reduced the range of the longleaf pine in Florida. Seeds collected during this volunteer event will be used to grow new pines for future restoration projects throughout Manatee County. Program is suitable for volunteers 16 and older. Volunteers must have their own vehicle that can handle off-road terrain for transport within the Preserve. Reservations are required. To register please contact michelle.leahy@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6035. Duette Preserve - Ranger Station

Thursday Dec 17th, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Green Explorers: Birds the Word - Discover the birds hiding in Florida's waterways and trees. Explore the different beaks, wings, and feet that allow these feathered friends to adapt to different environments.  Using hands-on outdoor discovery and the participants' own creativity, attendees will have a chance to play in nature. Green Explorers is a low structure, highly social and experienced based activity. Program suitable for 6-12 year olds and their families Reservations are required. To register please contact coral.bass@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6034. Neal Preserve

Friday Dec 18th, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Lab In A Box: Plant Soil Nutrition - Join us for an instructor-led virtual laboratory-style experience where young learners will explore the science of soil! How do plants take in water and nutrients? Let's test this question and more using the soil from your own backyard. Program suitable for children ages 9 -13. Most materials will be supplied in the lab box, which must be picked up from GT Bray Park or shipped to the participant prior to the program. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://parks.mymanatee.org/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/search.html?module=AR&fmid=36151925. For more information please contact sara.alvarezcollazo@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6044.  $10 Materials Fee + $5 Shipping Fee (Optional) Payable Online. Virtual Event - Webinar

Friday Dec 18th, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM - Seashell Shore Walk - Calling all beachcombers and seashell enthusiasts! Join us for a relaxing walk on the beach to search for seashells and learn to identify them. This program will explore what makes mollusks unique and bring you up to speed on the latest research in malacology. Learn about ethical seashell collecting methods while discovering a new appreciation for our beautiful shorelines. Program suitable for all ages. Reservations are required. To register please contact elena.burke@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6036. Coquina Beach

Saturday Dec 19th, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Master Gardener Tour: Rye Preserve - Take a hike through upland habitats along the beautiful Rye Branch and learn about Florida's native plants, natural history, and early settlement of the area. Suitable for all ages. Reservations Required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rye-preserve-nature-tour-tickets-122710148357?fbclid=IwAR1LqHovOaB55Q6Vp2axZW6bM5z3G0Bu3d7BLuNOIN5pi3WKIzhVeY8-6vQ Rye Preserve

Saturday Dec 19th, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Saturday Mornings at the NEST - Join us at the Mosaic Center for Nature, Exploration, Science, and Technology for a morning of exploration. Walk the grounds of the historic Reasoner Tract and observe botanical giants collected from around the world. Explore the canopy boardwalk among the banyans, climb to the top of the crow’s nest, take in breathtaking panoramic views, and make an exciting exit from the building via slide. Learn about upcoming programs and exciting new additions to Robinson Preserve. Program suitable  for  all  ages. Face coverings are required to enter the building. No reservations required. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org Robinson Preserve - Mosaic NEST

Saturday Dec 19th, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Families Flock Together: Calusa Water bird Masks - Join us as we follow the footprints of Manatee County's first residents, the native Calusa people. In this family-friendly program we will recreate our own Calusa water bird masks used during tribal festivities and explore evidence of Calusa history in southwest Florida. Then we will take a short hike around the Portevant Temple Mound complex and imagine the thriving communities that once lived on the shores of Emerson Point Preserve. Program suitable for children and their families. Reservations are required. To register please contact sara.alvarezcollazo@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5323 ext. 6044. Emerson Point Preserve

Saturday Dec 19th, 9:00 AM - Sunday Dec 20th, 3:00 PM - Adult Wilderness Survival and Overnight Camping - For the intermediate to experienced outdoors person looking to brush up on their wilderness survival skills, this is the program for you!  Join instructor Sarah on an overnight camping and survival skills adventure in the heart of Duette Preserve.  Participants will meet at the Ranger Station and backpack through the bush, using a map and compass to reach their campsite.  From there, we will practice the seven priorities of wilderness survival, including the construction of emergency shelters which participants may sleep in if they choose.  The next morning we will hike back to our cars and return to civilization with the knowledge and confidence needed for survival in a wilderness or emergency setting. Program suitable for adults. Participants must provide their own camping gear, backpack, water, and food.  A detailed packing list will be provided.  The off-trail hike to the campsite is approximately 1 mile each way. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/129563019479 $22.40 Camping Registration Fee payable with exact CASH or CHECK.  No credit cards accepted. Duette Preserve - Ranger Station

Sunday Dec 20th, 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM - Rise & Shine Yoga - Revitalize and Rejuvenate your Mind, Body & Spirit! This yoga class is designed to blend awareness of breath, physical movement & mindfulness to promote clarity of mind while developing physical strength and stamina, increasing flexibility, burning calories and detoxifying the body! Increase your overall well-being by ending & beginning your week with this empowering & uplifting flow! Program suitable for adults. Program sponsored by Brandy Gray of MomWifeSOUL Yoga in partnership with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources. Participants must provide their own yoga mats. Online registration is highly encouraged as spaces are limited. To register please visit https://parks.mymanatee.org/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/search.html?primarycode=110006. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6042. $10 Participant Fee Payable online. Robinson Preserve - Mosaic NEST

Monday Dec 21st - Saturday Dec 26th - Explorers' Academy Virtual Learning: Holidays in the Sun Week - We may not experience fall colors or winter's first snowfall, but Florida's subtle signs of seasonal transition are still present.  Join our education staff on the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department Facebook page for an exploration of Holidays in the Sun!  New videos will be released on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday which feature general information, story time, kids activities, and a virtual preserve tour. Program suitable  for  all  ages. No reservations required. For more information please visit https://www.facebook.com/manatee.parks.natural.resources or contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org Virtual Event - Watch on Facebook or YouTube

Saturday Dec 26th, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Robinson Preserve Wagon Tours - Roll through Robinson Preserve on four wheels in the comfort of our covered wagon! These special tours will go to the tower and back.  Your naturalist guide will interpret the land’s history, habitat, wildlife, and plants and will share updates and information about the new Expansion. Program suitable  for  all  ages. Face coverings are required while riding in the wagon.  Spaces will be limited to facilitate distancing. Seats are available on a first come, first served basis.  The wagon will depart approximately every 30 minutes from 9 am to 11:30 am.  Please meet at the wooden ramp near the screened pavilion at the back of the North parking lot. No reservations required. For more information please contact ecoevents@mymanatee.org  Robinson Preserve - 17th Ave NW Entrance

Tuesday Dec 29th, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM - Wildlife Spotlight: Woodpeckers - Do you hear knocking on a telephone pole outside your home, or a high-pitched sound of laughter? That’s a woodpecker! These incredible birds have unique abilities and play an important role in our ecosystem. Join us for a relaxing walk around Conservatory Park to look for woodpeckers in their natural habitat and learn to identify them by sight and sound! Program suitable for all ages. Reservations are required. To register please contact elena.burke@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6036. Conservatory Park - Conservatory Drive Entrance

Wednesday Dec 30th, 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM - Air Potato Roundup - Join us for a day in the pines, taking out invasive air potato and caesar weed along the trails of Conservatory Park!  Who will find the biggest spud?  Who will find the most?  Give back to this neighborhood park and help us improve native habitat for the creatures who live there, all while getting a light workout at this family-friendly volunteer event! Program is suitable for all ages, volunteers must be 16 or older to volunteer without a guardian present. Reservations are required. To register please contact michelle.leahy@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6035. . Conservatory Park

Thursday Dec 31st, 6:30 AM - 8:30 AM - Robinson Preserve SunRISE Paddle - Calling all early birds!  Join Naturalist Sarah for an easy sunrise paddle along the salt marshes of Robinson Preserve to the mouth of the Manatee River and Tampa Bay. We will take advantage of the low tide to watch the sunrise above the horizon while looking for local wildlife.  Let's make the last day of 2020 a great one! Program suitable for ages 16 and older who can meet the County's minimum eligibility requirements. This is an easy paddle which can be enjoyed by beginning kayakers. Participants must have their own canoe or kayak and safety gear. All participants must wear a life jacket and bring a flashlight or headlamp and whistle. Reservations are required. To register please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/129596337133. For more information please contact sarah.denison@mymanatee.org  Robinson Preserve - 17th Ave NW Entrance

Saturday Jan 2nd, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM - New Year's Coastal Cleanup - Start the new year right by giving back to the earth! Grab your gloves, hat, and sunscreen - we'll provide the trash bags and grabbers - and take an active role in helping the environment. Your hard work will help keep the beaches beautiful and the wildlife safe. This is a great opportunity for teens looking to earn volunteer hours. Program is suitable for all ages, volunteers must be 16 or older to volunteer without a guardian present. Reservations are required. To register please contact michelle.leahy@mymanatee.org or call (941) 742-5923 ext. 6035. Coquina Beach

Kayaking with Manatee County

Participation Requirements for Manatee County Kayaks

In order to utilize one of Manatee County’s sit on top kayaks for a volunteer, Kayaking for Beginners, Kayaking for First Timers, or Beginner Level Kayak Trip, or to participate in any paddling program, participants:

  • Must be 16 years of age or older
  • Must not exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit for the vessel
  • Must have the ability to follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently while in the kayak
  • Must have the ability to respond to instructions and/or call out in the event of an emergency
  • Must have the ability to wear a properly fitted personal flotation device
  • Must have the ability to enter and exit the kayak independently or with the assistance of a companion
  • Must be able to move the kayak through the water independently in a stable manner and return it to the launching area
  • Must have the ability to breathe independently
  • Must have the ability to tolerate 60-80 degree Fahrenheit water and bright sunlight for 2 hours
  • Must have the ability to remain seated, maneuver, and balance independently while on the water

In order to utilize one of Manatee County’s sit on top kayaks for a summer camp program, participants:

  • Must be 9 years of age or older (note: age limit is lower as this program is specifically designed as a direct instructional for this age group; guide to paddler ratio is much lower)
  • Must not exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit for the vessel
  • Must have the ability to follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently while in the kayak
  • Must have the ability to respond to instructions and/or call out in the event of an emergency
  • Must have the ability to wear a properly fitted personal flotation device
  • Must have the ability to enter and exit the kayak independently or with the assistance of a companion
  • Must have the ability to breathe independently
  • Must be able to move the kayak through the water independently in a stable manner and return it to the launching area
  • Must have the ability to tolerate 60-80 degree Fahrenheit water and bright sunlight for 2 hours
  • Must have the ability to remain seated, maneuver, and balance independently while on the water

In the event of capsize for any program, one:

  • Must have the ability to get out from under the watercraft independently
  • Must have the ability to right oneself and remain face up in the water with the aid of a personal flotation device