Staff Spotlight, Mike Hayes
Maintenance Mechanic, Mike Hayes
A Florida native, Mike Hayes has roamed the backwater salt marshes and coastal hammocks of the Nature Coast from the time he could steer a boat or pedal a bicycle.
Mike grew up in the outdoors across all seasons, fishing the spoil islands out of Sutherland Bayou in the spring, escaping the heat on the Chassahowitzka River in the summer, and hunting untouched lands in the fall and winter. “I’ve always loved this area, Chassahowitzka and Homosassa. I’m getting to work where I want to be while enjoying the outdoors.”
His deep-rooted appreciation for natural places is one of the reasons Mike joined the Florida Park Service. He contributes to the greater good, preserving the natural land and public spaces for all to enjoy. Mike and fellow Maintenance Mechanic Rick Coosey are a powerhouse team. They keep all the park’s moving parts working and looking good while completing detailed projects, such as designing and building a dual heater and pump system for the in-ground manatee pool, and constructing a new sign to welcome visitors at the west entrance.
Mike is most proud of completing the quarter-mile-long Wildlife Walk boardwalk project where all wood walking surfaces were replaced with composite boards. “The scale, the length of time but mostly the teamwork and getting to work with park family is what made this project impactful.” Mike says that family feeling is one of the most meaningful parts of working for the Florida Park Service.
When something isn’t breaking or being fabricated, you might find Mike enjoying a view of the spring from above or below the surface at the Underwater Observatory, appreciating the fish and the coolness coming from the spring water. It may be his favorite place in the park, but Mike sees the whole park as significant and special. “If you like animals, especially ones native to Florida, this is the place to go. This is old Florida and reminds us of a time when things were slower. The Nature Coast is amazing, and this park is a showcase for all of the wildlife.”