Florida Park Service Honors Park Volunteers in North Florida

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Florida Park Service Honors
Park Volunteers in North Florida

~Volunteers contribute more than 1.2 million hours of service annually across the state~

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In celebration of National Volunteer Week, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is honored to recognize North Florida individuals and groups with 2017 Volunteer Appreciation Awards for their invaluable contributions at Florida State Parks.

More than 14,400 state park volunteers and 80 Friends groups contribute over 1.2 million hours of service annually. From painting cabins to leading nature hikes, volunteers help protect resources and improve the visitor experience at Florida's 175 state parks and trails. In addition to individual volunteers, a network of Friends groups, or citizen support organizations (CSOs), support individual state parks or groups of parks.

In North Florida, 12 volunteer recognition honors were awarded:

  • The Friends of Fort Clinch State Park won Overall Citizen Support Organization of the Year. Among many projects, the group supports the sea turtle survey, helps host an annual children's fishing clinic and improves facilities for resident volunteers.
  • The Friends of Fort Clinch State Park also won for Historical Long-Term Project of the Year. The CSO purchased a bronze statue of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worker to honor the company that helped develop the park in the 1930s.
  • Makenzie Shaw was honored as the Youth Volunteer of the Year for Visitor Services. She has contributed more than 650 hours of service since she began volunteering four years ago at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park.
  • Freddie and Deb Morgan, Chris Graves and Mike Crane won Team of 3-plus of the Year for Maintenance at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. They made multiple improvements to the campsites and to bathhouse facilities.
  • The Bird Peninsula Restoration at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park won for Natural/Cultural Short-Term Project of the Year. The hurricane-damaged habitat for resident and wild birds is now an appealing wildlife viewing area for park visitors.
  • Seven volunteers were honored for contributing 20-plus years of service. Arthur Nersadian was honored for 30 years at Fort Cooper State Park. Six volunteers were honored at Rainbow Springs State Park: Amilcar Eslava, 26 years; Agnes Eslava, 24 years; Bob Sprenzel, 24 years; Linda Brown, 22 years; Shirley Kuntz, 21 years; and Mary Lou Amirault, 20 years.

Congratulations to the individuals and groups honored during the statewide 2017 Volunteer Awards, sponsored by the Friends of Florida State Parks. Find more information about than 40 volunteers and Friends groups that received statewide awards on the Volunteer Appreciation page of FloridaStateParks.org. Additional recipients will be featured in coming months.

Volunteers support and improve Florida State Parks with their time and talent. Learn how to get involved