The Florida State Parks Foundation recognized the army of state park volunteers during National Volunteer Month, who in the last nine months contributed almost 630,000 hours to help keep the parks open despite the pandemic.

“During National Volunteer Month, we want to thank the state park volunteers who contributed over 629,000 hours between July 1 and March 30th. Florida’s award-winning state parks wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our volunteers,” said Foundation President Gil Ziffer.

To honor some of the standout volunteers, the Florida Park Service and Foundation co-hosted a virtual 2020 Volunteer Recognition Award Ceremony, which was held on March 31.

More than 50 awards were presented honoring volunteers with up to 40 years of service, contributions of up to 25,000 hours of service, and for a wide variety of park projects. The awards are sponsored by the Florida State Parks Foundation.

“Please know how excited we are to celebrate your service.You all make a huge difference,” Florida State Park Director Eric Draper told participants.

“This recognition is special. It means that the people you work with took the time to nominate you and that out of the thousands of people who volunteer at Florida State Parks, your service stands out,” he added. 

“This award is our way of telling everyone who volunteers their time, energy and talent that we are truly grateful. By recognizing you for your special contributions and efforts, others are inspired to follow your lead”, he added.

There are more than 10,400 volunteers who safely work alongside park staff enhancing visitor experiences and helping with park maintenance and resource management. Park volunteers often bring special skills and knowledge and feel rewarded by helping others.      

The Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 10,000 park volunteers.  

It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy.

The volunteer Board of Directors represents private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.

To learn more about Florida State Park volunteer opportunities, please click here.

About the Author: Foundation Staff