Florida Park Service Honors Park Volunteers in Southwest Florida

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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us

Florida Park Service Honors Park Volunteers in Southwest Florida

~Florida volunteers contribute more than 1.2 million hours of service annually~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In celebration of National Volunteer Month, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is honoring southwest Florida individuals and groups with 2018 Volunteer Appreciation Awards for their invaluable contributions at Florida State Parks.

More than 14,400 state park volunteers and 82 Friends groups, or citizen support organizations (CSOs), contribute over 1.2 million hours of service annually. From painting cabins to leading nature hikes, volunteers help protect resources and improve visitor experiences at Florida's 175 state parks and trails. In addition to individual volunteers, a network of CSOs supports individual state parks or groups of parks.

In southwest Florida, the following volunteers and CSO were honored:

  • Kim Anderson and Lois Watson, volunteers at Myakka River State Park, were recognized with a 2018 Team of Two Award for their dedication to assisting with park administration services. When the park's volunteer manager was on maternity leave, the pair stepped up to get new volunteers acclimated and keep operations running smoothly.
  • Leo Mulcahy was honored for 30-plus years of service at Myakka River State Park. He began as a park campground host and has since filled many roles, most importantly, handling all park equipment maintenance.
  • Earl Cross received a 2018 Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award for his volunteer contributions to the maintenance team at Myakka River State Park. His contributions include helping restore historic structures and troubleshooting electrical issues. He has also served as lead volunteer for the Friends of Myakka River concert series.  
  • Dino Barone and Howard Lubel received a 2018 Team of Two Award, recognizing their resource management volunteer efforts at Fakahatchee Strand State Park. The pair assisted park staff in exceeding the previous year's non-native plant removal goals, resulting in the park's trails being open and accessible earlier in the season than ever before. 
  • Dino Barone also won a 2018 Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award in the category of Park Resource Management for his work leading the "Faka-hackers," a volunteer group dedicated to keeping the park's miles of trails open and accessible through non-native plant removal and treatment.
  • The Hillsborough River State Park Preservation Society was recognized with a 2018 Special Event Award for their annual Swamp Stomp race. Funds raised by the Friends during this event help support future events and park improvements.
  • The 2018 Corporate Excellence Award was presented to Johnson Engineering Inc. for their volunteer contributions at Lovers Key State Park. In 2018, 81 employees and their families contributed nearly 250 hours of service during the park's 15th Annual Coastal Cleanup event, including trail maintenance, painting and fence building. 
  • The "Lake June Four" - Bill and Lynn Masters, John Widdowson and Linda Logan - won the 2018 Team of Three or More Award for Exceptional Dedication in the category of Park Resource Protection. The group's stewardship efforts at Lake June-in-Winter State Park, an unstaffed park with few facilities, include opening and closing the park and assisting with maintenance.  
  • The Friends of Oscar Scherer State Park received the 2018 Special Event Award for organizing the park's 29th Annual Earth Day Festival, "Battle of Plastic Pollution." The event brought together 40 partners and 100 volunteers who contributed more than 300 hours of service, and helped bring awareness to the impact plastics have on the environment.

Congratulations to the individuals and groups honored during the statewide 2018 Volunteer Appreciation Awards, sponsored by the Florida State Parks Foundation. Find more information about the 40-plus volunteers and Friends groups that received statewide awards on the Volunteer Appreciation page of FloridaStateParks.org

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