2022 Volunteer Awards at Myakka River State Park
Volunteer Spotlight, Bike Myakka for Good
Bike Myakka for Good is the recipient of the 2022 Citizen Support Organization of the Year for Natural Resources.
Bike Myakka for Good is a monthly program in which the Friends of Myakka River lead a large team of volunteers on their bicycles to remove invasive plants at various locations throughout the park. When the work is complete, they enjoy a CSO-sponsored lunch together.
This program is unique because it does triple duty. The bike ride serves as recreation, learning about invasive plants serves as interpretation, and removing the invasive plants helps with natural resource management. The program builds camaraderie among the park’s volunteers. Approximately 30 people participate each month.
These volunteers accomplish a lot in terms of invasive plant removal while minimizing impacts on the park’s resources. Overall, Bike Myakka for Good has removed invasive plants from 2.4 acres of the park’s picnic area, backcountry campsites and hiking trails. The team targets air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) and Caesar’s weed (Urena lobata). Both plant species spread aggressively if not controlled.
The Friends of Myakka River worked with park staff to develop a pre-ride safety briefing and implemented engineering controls including safety flags and a “chase” rider to help participants share the winding park drive with motor vehicle traffic. The team also developed a pre-work safety briefing and carries first aid kits with poison ivy treatment. A clear line of communication has been maintained via radios and cellphones for whenever directions or processes are uncertain.
After guidance from park staff for invasive plant removal tracking (how to measure gross areas and infested areas) and the location of materials, Friends of Myakka River's Bike Myakka for Good has been essentially self-supporting, thus minimizing demands on park staff.
Volunteer Spotlight, Nijola Gryn
Nijola Gryn is the recipient of the 2022 20 Years of Service Award.
Nijola Gryn has been a volunteer at Myakka River State Park for the last 20 years.
Volunteer Spotlight, Dorothy “Dottie” Kennedy
Dottie Kennedy is the recipient of the 2022 20 Years of Service Award.
Dottie Kennedy has been a volunteer at Myakka River State Park for the last 20 years.