Staff Spotlight, Ashley Crawford
Park Ranger, Ashley Crawford
Ashley Crawford was born and raised about an hour away from Paynes Prairie in Jacksonville, Florida. She has loved the outdoors since she was a brownie in Girl Scouts, and her love for it has only grown throughout her life as she has experienced and learned more about the beautiful state she feels fortunate enough to have grown up in. She studied biology at Florida State University and wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida, where she learned a lot about Florida’s natural environments. During her stint at UF she spent a lot of time out on the nearby Prairie, as many Gators do. She knew that the park was a truly special place and that it was where she wanted to work, not only because of the significance of the park itself but because of the importance of the Florida Park Service.
What Ashley likes most about nature is all the creatures that have evolved to survive in the most inhospitable of habitats; the species that have made it against the odds. While many people come to Paynes Prairie to see the big charismatic species such as the gators or the bison, Ashley’s favorite thing about the prairie is that it is a preserve, and therefore helps to provide suitable and diverse habitats for many of Florida’s endemic, endangered and threatened species of wildlife.
Fall is her favorite season on the prairie, when a sea of yellow marsh marigolds cover the prairie basin and the summer heat starts to subside. Her favorite park activity is the annual stargazing event in which people from all around come to learn more about the stars and planets with the Alachua Astronomy Club. The proceeds from the event help the park’s citizen support organization (Friends of Paynes Prairie) who do so much to help the prairie continue to be the wonderful place that it is. Ashley is extremely grateful to be working for the Florida Park Service and even more so to call the Prairie her home.