TALLAHASSEE – In celebration of National Volunteer Month, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is honoring Northwest 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 more than 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 Northwest Florida, the following volunteers and CSO were honored:
The Friends of Emerald Coast State Parks won Citizen Support Organization of the Year for Resource-Based Recreation. The group has helped fund more than $200,000 in facility improvements at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou and Henderson Beach state parks, including installing sea turtle lighting and rebuilding boat docks, as well as trail enhancement projects.
Noah Glenn was honored as Youth Volunteer of the Year for Protecting Visitor Safety. For his Eagle Scout project, he secured $10,000 in donations to build and install eight life ring stations at Henderson Beach State Park.
Four volunteers were honored for contributing 20-plus years of service — Anne Ake and Vivian Steele for 25 years at St. Andrews State Park; Sue Kneller for 25 at Henderson Beach and Gannon Rocky Bayou state parks; and Donna Stiles for 20 years at Henderson Beach and Gannon Rocky Bayou state parks.
Bob and Dee Green were each honored for contributing 10,000-plus hours of service at Three Rivers, Torreya and Edward Ball Wakulla Springs state parks, assisting with projects such as hurricane recovery and cleanup events.
The Florida State Park Foundation was recognized for assisting DEP staff following Hurricane Michael, including providing a $50,000 hardship fund for those most affected and collecting donations to aid in park recovery efforts.
The Florida Park Service Ranger Association was recognized for awarding 39 Florida Park Service staff and their families a total of $33,200 for financial recovery following Hurricane Michael.
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.