Sarasota County Starter Kit developed for newcomers

Kit called ‘innovative new tool’ providing wide array of information

Image courtesy Sarasota County Government

“Moving to or settling into a new area can be an invigorating experience, but also an overwhelming one,” Sarasota County Government staff has pointed out. Therefore, the county has developed an “innovative new tool to help ease that transition,” a news release says: the Sarasota County Starter Kit.

With abundant information about free classes and other tools, “the ‘kit’ will provide a guide to living on the Suncoast, equipping both new and existing community members with essential information, from saving on utilities to living with local wildlife,” the release adds.

“There is a lot to learn about living in Southwest Florida, and the Sarasota County Starter Kit is our way of saying, ‘Welcome’ to new residents while offering valuable resources to better understand how to get settled in your new home,” said Lee Hayes Byron, director of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension Sarasota County, in the release. “We believe that informed and engaged residents lead happier, healthier lives and contribute to the overall well-being of our community,” she added.

“Sarasota County’s continuing growth in popularity has made the area a destination for many, with the county adding an average of 35 new residents each day in recent years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” the release continues. “The Starter Kit aims to welcome newcomers and provide valuable insights to longtime residents, ensuring that everyone has the tools and knowledge to make the most of their time in this vibrant community,” the release says.

The kit covers “a diverse range of topics crucial for successful living in the area,” including the following:

  • Sustainability and resource conservation.
  • Gardening in Florida.
  • 4-H activities for youth and families.
  • Understanding and interacting with local wildlife.
  • Saving on utilities.
  • Recycling and reuse.
  • Protecting water resources, from ponds to seas.
  • Florida-Friendly Landscaping™.
  • Disaster preparedness.
  • Identifying beneficial insects and pests.

Starter Kit classes will begin on Jan. 17, the release notes, “with new offerings available every two weeks thereafter. Classes are free, open to everyone, and offered online, to increase accessibility from wherever residents might be,” the release points out.

“We get so many comments from our program participants about how different it is here compared to where they moved from, including what grows here, what gets recycled here, and what creatures live here,” said Byron of UF/IFAS in the release. “By offering these classes, we hope to empower residents with information that is easy to understand and to apply in their daily lives so they can enjoy their new community and actively contribute to the well-being of Sarasota County.”

Learn more about the Sarasota County Starter Kit series, including class schedules and registration details by visiting, emailing, or calling 311 (or, 941-861-5000 if outside Sarasota County).

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