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Florida Park Service volunteers honored for service | News

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Florida Park Service volunteers honored for service

Tallahassee, Florida -- In honor of National Volunteer Month, the Florida Parks Service hosted its annual volunteer appreciation picnics in each of the five state park regions to recognize the invaluable contribution volunteers have made to their parks.

Over 7,600 regular service volunteers regularly commit to working in state parks assisting in things including staffing a ranger station, driving a tour boat or supporting land management activities. Last year, the Florida DEP says volunteers contributed nearly 1.4 million hours to the state park system.

During the volunteer appreciation picnics held in March, the Friends of Florida State Parks, Inc. presented its 2013 Friends of Florida State Parks Volunteer Awards to individuals and groups whose volunteerism has made a significant impact in the past year. 

The winners are selected via nomination by the Friends of Florida State Parks Recognition Committee in eight categories. 

The 2013 winners are:

  • Adult Female Volunteer of the Year: Jackie DeGayner, Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
  • Adult Male Volunteer of the Year: Ted Rodriguez, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
  • Citizen Support Organization of the Year: Friends of Emerald Coast State Parks (Henderson Beach and Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park)
  • Short Term Project of the Year: Lovers Key Mid-Island Bridge Redecking, Friends of Lovers Key State Park
  • Long Term Project of the Year: Limitless Playground, Friends of Islands Parks (Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Parks)
  • Special Event of the Year: National Public Lands Day, Friends of Oscar Scherer State Park
  • Volunteer Team of the Year: Visitor Center Volunteer Team, Friends of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
  • Youth  Female Volunteer of the Year: Jamie Kustra, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
  • Youth Male Volunteer of the Year: Taylor Meadows, Fort Pierce Inlet State Park 

"Florida's state parks and trails are fortunate to have the most passionate and dedicated volunteers," said DEP's Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. "We thank our volunteers for their time and expertise in helping us manage, protect and interpret Florida's natural and cultural resources."