This year, the Florida State Parks Foundation will celebrate 30 years of preserving, protecting, sustaining and growing the award-winning Florida state parks. The Florida State Parks Foundation is a nonprofit organization comprised of members and volunteers who strive to preserve the natural beauty and resources of Florida’s parks.
The Florida State Parks Foundation was originally founded in 1993 as the Friends of Florida State Parks. It was renamed in 2018. The organization held its first board meeting on March 20, 1993 at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
There are five state parks in our area. These include Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Ybor City Museum State Park in Tampa, Little Manatee River State Park in Wimauma, Fort Foster State Historic Site in Thonotosassa and Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa.
Tammy Gustafson, president of the Florid State Parks Foundation, said, “Thirty years ago, a small team of volunteers devoted to our state’s natural and cultural resources created the Friends of Florida State Parks. This grassroots group has since evolved into the Florida State Parks Foundation, and through their efforts, as well as the efforts of dozens of people who have followed in their footsteps, the foundation has been fortunate to make a lasting impact on state parks from the Florida Panhandle to the Florida Keys.”
Gustafson added, “We all know that our state parks are the best in the country, which means that we have the best rangers, park professionals, volunteers and support staff in the country as well. During the year ahead, we are going to hear from some of those people — both past and present — as they share what the foundation and the parks have meant to them over the last 30 years.”
The efforts of the Florida State Parks Foundation would not be possible without donors. There are numerous ways to support it, including by doing something as simple as participating in its Plant a Pine program. Ever since Earth Day 2020, nearly 200,000 longleaf pines have been planted. You can also get a license plate that says: “Explore Our State Parks.”
For more information, please visit www.floridastateparksfoundation.org.