Staff Spotlight, Bryan Summerlin

image of bryan summerlin, park ranger at manatee springs state park, standing outside in front of a palm tree.

Park Ranger, Bryan Summerlin

Manatee Springs State Park

When Bryan Summerlin was young he always loved being outdoors. Whether playing in the yard, riding his bicycle or building forts in the woods, there was something about surrounding himself with nature that he found enjoyable. Today, as a park ranger for Manatee Springs State Park, Bryan says the Florida Park Service has given him an opportunity to share his love and knowledge of the great outdoors with park visitors. “When you see that sparkle in a person's eyes when they feel that intense connection with our natural and cultural resources, it's the best reward.”

The trails are Bryan’s favorite place in the park, mostly because of the solitude and sense of balance that he feels there. “Hiking the trails gives me a chance to step where my forefathers stepped, to completely overwhelm my senses with the sheer beauty of Florida's wildlands. This is where my roots are, and this is my home.” Bryan’s connection to this land, aside from being a native Floridian, is indeed one of blood. His three-times great grandfather, Jacob Summerlin, was rumored to have been taught to track by Chief Osceola himself and later traded horses and ran cattle. His grandfather, Ivey Summerlin, worked timber out of Georgia along the Suwannee River. He also ran mule teams that dragged logs to the river and floated them south for transport to the sawmills. “When I'm out there in those woods, I can catch a glimpse of their worlds, their lives. Florida is as much a part of me as I am of it.”

Manatee Springs State Park is particularly special to Bryan. “The natural springs’ beauty, taking a dip during the summer to cool off from the heat, all leaves one rejuvenated. The woodlands take you back in time to when life was very much different. Wildlife move around as you make your way, birds calling, insects clicking, and you become so in tuned that you can almost hear the caterpillar’s footsteps.”

Come and find out what you can experience at Manatee Springs State Park.

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