Staff Spotlight, Joe Mitchell

a man in a park service uniform stands against a wooden wall.

Park Services Specialist, Joe Mitchell

Forest Capital Museum State Park

Joe Mitchell loves his career in the Florida Park Service for the challenges he encounters, interesting people he meets and having the opportunity to see each park’s beauty and personality. Joe is a Florida native, raised in New Port Richey.  Before graduating college, he had a variety of jobs, including assisting a bank custodian, digging system ditches, and working in a shipping factory and on a 500-acre ranch.  Not sure of what to do next, he joined the Air Force as an Electronic Warfare System Specialist, working on equipment for F4 phantoms and A10 warthogs. After his four years of duty, he found the Florida Park Service and started a career there in 1989.

Joe started at the southernmost park in the system, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West.  After a year of beaches and fort tours, he transferred to Wekiva Springs State Park and its pine flatwoods and rock springs run. He gave interpretive programs and tackled resource management projects. Next at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Joe developed a sea turtle monitoring program and coyote removal program that reduced sea turtle nest predation. He also developed programs to monitor nesting snowy plovers and other shorebirds along with the St. Andrews beach mouse, and managed the exotic plant program.  For his efforts in managing the natural resources at St. Joe, he received both the District 1 and Division Hank Smith Award for Excellence in Research.

Joe loved T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, always feeling that it was where he would retire.  Unfortunately, in 2018 Hurricane Michael changed everything.  The park (and Joe’s trailer) sustained heavy damage.  With assistance from the Park Service and the managers of St. Joseph and Lafayette Blue Springs, Joe was given a new opportunity to continue his career at Forest Capital Museum State Park. Joe is an optimist, loving his new park and seeing so much potential for the museum and cracker homestead.  His goals are to raise attendance, revitalize some of the structures and grounds and beautify the park with native plants. Through the high points and low spots, Joe feels fortunate to be a part of this great organization and hopes to see you soon at Forest Capital Museum State Park.

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