FWC Officer of the Year and the Distinguished Service Award
Officer Mario Bertolami
Fish and Wildlife Officer of the Year Award
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Officer Mario Bertolami works at four state parks: Tomoka State Park, Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, Bulow Creek State Park and Addison Blockhouse Historic State Park. These parks present a challenge as they encompass 78 cultural sites, 7,500 acres, 11-miles of hiking trails, 100 campsites and yearly special events such as bike weeks, speed weeks and spring break.
Officer Bertolami does not focus on just one area of these parks or just on wildlife, but is aware of all facets of the parks, including remote gates, wildlife, exotic animal removal, fire lines, trails and visitor protection. Officer Bertolami has taken the time to be familiar with the locations of historic ruins and cultural sites and to learn about why they are significant and need protection.
Officer Bertolami takes time to identify and report safety concerns in outlying areas and works with park staff to monitor and resolve them. Safety concerns sometimes include downed trees on the trail, compromised gates or damaged outlying facilities.
The presence of Officer Bertolami increases the positive public view of FWC and of the Florida Park Service. Interactions with park staff and park visitors are always informative, helpful, insightful and respectful. Officer Mario Bertolami's awareness of park protection needs also instills a safety culture with park staff as they conduct daily operations.
Park staff often approaches Officer Bertolami for input on special events and to report wildlife violation activities with the confidence that he listens and investigates in a very timely manner. Officer Bertolami has greatly increased the communication and positive relationship between the park staff and park managers.
The Fish and Wildlife Officer of the Year is awarded annually to the officer with a never-ending dedication to their profession and genuine commitment to the agency and the public they serve.
Distinguished Service Award
“Tomoka Joe” Isaacs has had an interesting career track. He started at Tomoka State Park in 1988 as a seasonal employee. He became a park ranger in 1990 before he was promoted to park services specialist in 2004 and assistant park manager in 2012.
Under Joe’s leadership, the volunteer program at Tomoka State Park has grown. In 2004, Joe started with a small volunteer program. Since then, the program has grown to provide camp hosts and maintenance volunteers year-round.
Joe created an exemplary living history camp and character known as “Tomoka Joe.” The “Tomoka Joe” program became a benchmark for Florida Park Service living history programs. He was recipient of the Joe Kenner Interpreter of the Year award in 2003, 2008 and 2011.
Joe has nurtured partnerships with community entities such as Ormond Beach Parks and Recreation, Volusia County Road Department, Florida Power & Light, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Boy Scouts of America, the Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce and Embry Riddle Aeronautical Institute. These partnerships directly contribute to projects that have increased access for park visitors and improved Tomoka State Park, Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park and Bulow Creek State Park.
In the arena of natural resource management, Joe has participated in wildfire strike teams, prescribed fires and as a burn boss for almost 20 years. Joe received the Distinguished Service Award for Wildfires in 2000. He also received the Outdoor Assessment Achievement Award.
In the arena of cultural resource management, Joe created a cache of information for use by staff on the locations and history of the combined 66 cultural sites of the parks managed in the Ormond Beach area.
Assistant Park Manager Joe Isaacs demonstrates what one person can do when they have the passion to serve the public, the desire to make the work environment better and the resiliency to do this over an entire career.
The Distinguished Service Award is awarded annually to recognize contributions that require a high degree of personal initiative, professionalism, leadership, effort or skill; must represent a significant benefit to the division; and must be made on a voluntary or special assignment basis completely above and beyond the requirements of the employee's position description.