Message From the President (Julie Harrington)
Autumn has sprung at Wakulla Springs State Park! Activities have ramped up these last few months and almost resumed back to a touch of normality again!
FLORIDA TALKS PROGRAM SERIES
In April, we concluded the monthly virtual series “Florida Talks Program”, based on a grant awarded by the Florida Humanities Council. Our stellar and informative speakers were: Lu Vickers “Weeki Wachee: City of Mermaids”, Julie Hauserman “The Man who Swam Inside the Planet”, and Peggy Macdonald “Marjorie Harris Carr: Defender of Florida’s Environment”. The virtual series was recorded and is available on our website if you weren’t able to attend (or would like to watch again). Based on positive member feedback to our speaker series to date, we’re planning to reapply for this grant again for the speakers’ series to continue this upcoming Spring 2022.
Click to Watch All Recorded Programs - Then Scroll Down to Find Program of Choice
WOMEN'S HISTORY PRESENTATION
There was also an inspirational Women’s History Month presentation in the Spring by former Park Manager Sandy Cook, on the early years of the Park Service, and including the significant ways that women have contributed to the development of the State Parks over time. One can view her presentation by clicking on the Women's History Month logo immediately below. In addition, we are planning to have a few other speakers this Fall and next Spring…oriented primarily to cave exploration/diving; both historical and futuristic; and also Archeology; please stay tuned for upcoming details.
VOLUNTEER SURVEY RESULTS
We distributed a volunteer survey in June to the Friends membership and contacts which resulted in not only a high response rate, but also in valuable feedback. We are truly grateful and appreciative that you all took the time to not only respond to the survey, but to consider volunteering your time to the Friends and the Park. We have a terrific new volunteer coordinator, Karen Taylor, who is serving as liaison between the Friends and Park volunteering efforts. She presented the results of the survey which in summary reveal: of the respondents, 50% are either occasional or frequent volunteers to the Friends, and 32% are either occasional or frequent attendees at Friends events. Eighteen percent prefer assisting through donations and/or volunteering in other ways.
It was good to see that at least 91% are interested of very interested in volunteering with the Friends. While the volunteering areas are listed on our website, the top areas of interest for volunteering include: Events (57%), Water Sampling Program and assisting with Writing (both tied at 30%), Communication & Marketing and assisting with the Online Store (both tied at 23%), and the Capital Campaign Fundraising (16%). Of existing volunteering efforts; Quarterly Road Cleanups (62%), River Boat Guide and assisting with Landscaping (both tied at 36%) and the Life Program (33%), topped the list. Please know that we’ll be reaching out to you to gauge your level of interest in the various volunteering areas (based on your responses) over the ensuing months.
WATER SAMPLING PROGRAM
A request was made over this summer by Dr. John Bowden, at the University of Florida (Dpt of Physiological Sciences & Veterinary Sciences), for the Friends to assist in a regional water sampling program. The purpose of the water sampling effort was to test for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) which are found in a variety of sources, including equipment typically used to collect soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment, and drinking water samples. Board member Cal Jamison provided a Saturday training session at the Park, with about ten volunteers, and everyone was outfitted with water sampling equipment. In July and August, we collected water samples from at least 34 sampling sites (with a few additional bonus sites including wells), and sent them to Dr. Bowden’s laboratory for further water quality analyses. We appreciate that Terri and Sophie (from the Friends of Lake Jackson) also assisted as some of the sampling sites included the Lake Jackson drainage basin. Dr. Bowden will have his website up and running in October, and we hope to have the sampling results by then as well.
WHAT ABOUT THE TOUR BOATS?
In addition, over this summer, there was a proposed plan discussed with FDEP staff, Park Manager Amy Conyers and the Friends Board to turn over the existing boat operations to the current Park concessionaire’s (Guest Services International) at the Park. During this deliberative process, the Park staff, Friends, and the Wakulla Springs Alliance voiced their concerns (and opposition) with this proposed plan (and proposed draft concession agreement) moving forward. The Florida State Parks director, Eric Draper, conveyed that it’s important that everyone is in consensus (or at least supportive) in order for the proposed plan to be implemented, and this was not the case. This proposed plan has currently been backburnered, however, the Friends will continue to remain watchful over these next months.
GENEROUS DONATION GREATLY APPRECIATED!
In early September, the Friends received a generous donation of $7,500 from Val and Dave LaHart distributed through the Community Foundation of North Florida. We are so thankful for this kind support from the LaHart’s, and plan to use it judiciously on behalf of educational programming at the Park!
SWIFT NIGHT OUT AND CD RELEASE PARTY
On September 11th, the Friends and the Park held a joint event: CD release party for Park Ranger Collin Johnson and “Swift Night Out”. Everyone listened outside to a wonderful presentation on swifts by Jeff Hugo and Patty Wilbur, as we watched with eager anticipation for the swifts to arrive. Jeff and Patty sang the traditional song of the swifts as a means to encourage their “swift” presence, but likely due to it being an overcast evening, it resulted in only a handful of the deft acrobats diving into the Lodge chimneys this year. They have appeared in droves (numbering in the 600”s) in prior years, and will hopefully return in similar numbers again.
Relating to the CD event, Collin grew up within earshot of Nashville and has been playing music since he was 12 years old. In 2016, he and his wife moved to Wakulla county one day before Hurricane Hermine hit! After landing his dream job working at the Park, he began writing songs dedicated to capturing the essence of Wakulla Springs. The CD is a compilation of 12 original songs, all recorded by Rick Ott of the “From the Heart” studio in Sopchoppy. Collin performed all the instrumentals (e.g., guitar, drums, etc.) and had some vocal assistance by songbirds (and Park Ranger colleagues) Kat and Maria.
All donations received from the sale of the CD will be directed towards support for the Park; including boat restoration, trail and other landscaping improvements, among many other areas. It’s exciting because Collin’s CD is also the first product offered for sale on the Friends online store with pricing for members and non-members. Please order the CD online (which will also be mailed out to you) at: www.wakullasprings.org/Online-Store
You can also listen/stream :
HearNow.com (for links to various sites including Spotify, Apple, Amazon, among others).
The CD is also available for sale on Amazon: https://music.amazon.in/albums/B09BXMHGMD?marketplaceId=A21TJRUUN4KGV&musicTerritory=IN
YOU ARE SPECIAL!
As a Member of the Friends of Wakulla Springs, you hold a special place in our organization. Your support to the Friends of Wakulla Springs is the backbone of our association and helps us to crystalize our plans into solutions to continue to serve the needs of Wakulla Springs State Park.
Our hope for this upcoming year is to obtain clearance from FDEP for the Friends to embark on a Capital Campaign to benefit the Park. In addition, we hope to schedule more live events once again including our Annual Classic Car & Motorcycle Show, Sinkhole de Mayo, and 5K events. Other exciting park projects are on the horizon, so please stay tuned for details.…
Thank you again for your continued support of Wakulla Springs State Park. We truly appreciate you! Please let me know if you have any comments and/or questions, and look forward to seeing or speaking with you soon!