The Oscars may take top billing among the entertainment world of awards but there are some other ceremonies that are right up there with them. 

These events are, of course, the awards presented each year to recognize the outstanding contributions made by our amazing army of volunteers in Florida State Parks!

We know what an invaluable, indispensable resource our volunteers are. The facts speak for themselves and it is up to every one of us to shout them from the roof tops so that everyone knows what it is that we do that makes our state parks the best in the nation.

Hot off the presses are the statistics for last year:

Nearly 14,500 volunteers contributed 1.3 million hours of service to 175 state parks.

Volunteer support was the equivalent of 623 Full-Time Employees (FTEs) with a value added of $32 million.

Volunteers were 59% of the park service’s total workforce (FPS has 1,050 FTEs).

83 CSOs, non-profit organizations of volunteers, raised and contributed an estimated $4 million to complete all types of park projects benefiting the state park system.

CSOs fund park infrastructure, boardwalks, interpretive panels, sponsor special events, provide visitors’ tours and presentations, enhance universal access to natural and cultural resources, purchase vehicles, equipment and supplies.

Volunteers serve in all areas of Visitor Services, Administration, Resource Management, Protection and Maintenance:

69,677 hours to Administration – defined as clerical, filing, telephone work, certain types of research, tracking volunteer hours, orientation and training, data entry, purchasing, grant writing, and more!

588,900 hours to Maintenance – defined as repairs and facility improvements, equipment and grounds, carpentry, trail maintenance, plumbing, masonry, trash pick-up, restroom upkeep, vehicle and equipment maintenance, small engine work, electrical work, construction projects, and more!

11,717 hours to Protection – defined as visitor safety, employee safety, emergency preparedness, emergency response, rule enforcement, voluntary compliance, facility and environmental protection, First Aid, CPR, state/vehicle/watercraft operation, and more!

141,265 hours to Resource Management – defined as both natural and cultural resource management including exotic species identification and control, plant and animal identification, ecological or cultural restoration, prescribed fire, lake watch, species monitoring, seed collection, historic collections management, research, and more!

386,614 hours to Visitor Services – defined as providing information, customer service, interpretation, docent, historical and re-enactment, assisting visitors in the ranger station, museum or visitor center, tram rides, concessions, special events, boat tours, educational programs, guided walks, public speaking, volunteer management, visitor program evaluations and more!

Volunteers are the life blood of the state parks. Thanks to each and every one of you for your service! 

About the Author: Foundation Staff