More than 500 volunteers who spend thousands of hours a year helping the Southwest Florida Water Management District maintain and improve public lands, as well as restore Tampa Bay, were honored this April during the District’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Day.
The third annual celebration was held at the District’s Lake Panasoffkee property and featured an awards presentation, exhibits, live music, a picnic lunch and a nature hike.
During the past year, approximately 450 volunteers were involved with the District’s Land Resources Volunteer Program and more than 70 volunteers were involved with the District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program.
The District recognized the service of both groups and individuals. The District also recognized groups or individuals that volunteered to cook for and assist with events for disabled outdoor enthusiasts. These events are a partnership between the District and the Wheelin’ Sportsmen organization.
VOLUNTEER DAY APPRECIATION DAY AWARDS
Citrus County Airboat Alliance
Volunteers constructed and maintain the airboat site at the District’s Potts Preserve. The group also regularly trims the multiuse trails there.
Withlapopka Civic Association
Approximately 60 volunteers have spent countless hours raising money and constructing Withlapopka Community Park, located within the Flying Eagle Preserve. The association continues to help the District maintain the park.
Interbay Glover YMCA
Fifteen volunteers worked with Tampa Bay Watch to install 500 marsh grass plugs at the Braided Tidal Creek phase of the Cockroach Bay project, which is part of the Tampa Bay Estuarine Ecosystem.
St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School
Forty volunteers installed 840 plugs of marsh grass at the Schultz Preserve, which is part of the Tampa Bay estuarine ecosystem.
Ed Chance Volunteers
Volunteers help maintain the Edward W. Chance Reserve — Gilley Creek Tract.
Bay City Flyers, Inc.
Bay City Flyers constructed the radio-controlled airplane site at the District’s Conner Preserve and continue to maintain the park to high standards. They also host several public events throughout the year.
Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties
Tampa Bay Watch
Martha Garcia and Tampa Bay Watch volunteers worked with the District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program to coordinate two marsh plantings using two different volunteer groups. The Tampa Bay Watch “Bay Grasses in Classes” marsh nursery grow-out program for public schools also plays an important role in the restoration of the Tampa Bay estuarine ecosystem.
Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society
Two volunteers with the group continue to conduct maintenance activities, including the removal of nonnative plants, in five upland areas of the Clam Bayou restoration project, which is part of the Tampa Bay estuarine ecosystem.
St. Petersburg Audubon Society
Three volunteers with the group continue to conduct maintenance activities, including the removal of nonnative plants, of five upland areas of the Clam Bayou restoration project, which is part of the Tampa Bay estuarine ecosystem.
Margaret and Joe Willis
The couple is being recognized for being outstanding campground hosts at the District’s Green Swamp West. The Willises return year after year and are highly regarded by many campers.
Thomas is an Eagle Scout who made the picnic shelter at the District’s Hampton Tract, which is part of the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, handicap accessible by forming, pouring and finishing a concrete slab at both entrance doors. The Flatlanders, which is an equestrian group, helped Thomas with the project.
Jeff and Barb Mullins
The couple is being recognized for being outstanding campground hosts at the District’s Lake Panasoffkee site. The Mullinses are first-time hosts this year and have received rave reviews from everyone that meets them.
CERTIFICATES OF RECOGNITION
The following individuals and groups are being recognized for volunteering to cook for and assist with events for disabled outdoor enthusiasts. The events are a partnership between the District and Wheelin’ Sportsmen.
Hillsborough and Pasco Counties
South Creek Equestrian Club
Florida Sport Horse Club
Jimbo’s Pit Bar-B-Q
Pasco and Polk Counties
Free Spirit Mustang Club