A Message From Our Director

Eric Draper, Director

Making a Difference During National Public Lands Day

If the person who first imported ardisia to Florida had anticipated the sweaty volunteers pulling it up at Alfred B. Maclay State Park on National Public Lands Day last week, they would have left the noxious plant in Asia where it belongs. 

Volunteers at Maclay during NPLD

Now the pretty evergreen with bright red berries is in the woods all over Florida. It is especially thick along the trails at Alfred B. Maclay State Park.  The plant’s thickets crowd out native vegetation and reduce biological diversity in forests - bad for wildlife and for people. That is why Kelli Green, a supercharged AmeriCorps member, led a team into the woods to collect seeds and pull up ardisia by the roots.

Our team was part of more than 100 people, including many Department of Environmental Protection staff who showed up for three hours of Saturday morning work. We were part of national effort taking place at 93 Florida State Parks and many other sites.  Florida State Parks hosted nearly 4000 volunteers.

By the end of the morning we had at our patch of woods we had made a big pile of our harvest and gathered to celebrate an acre cleaned of the harmful invasive and given back to nature.

The morning was made more interesting by conversations with newly made friends.  Now I am looking forward to another volunteer opportunity at Florida State Parks.  Click here to find volunteer roles near you. 

Eric Draper's Signature
Eric Draper, Director