Staff Spotlight, Rianna Elliott
Park Services Specialist, Rianna Elliott
A native to Suwannee County, Rianna’s family has called this area home since Florida was a territory. In part because of this, she greatly enjoys sharing her ample knowledge of local history with others. Whether giving talks to community groups, or giving guided walks through the park, she feels it is these personal connections that keeps the stories of the past alive for the next generation.
Initially working in the world of business and accounting, Rianna joined the Florida Park Service in 2009 as an administrative assistant. Soon afterwards, she was offered the chance to become a park ranger, an opportunity she says she jumped on immediately. She has worked as a ranger and then a park services specialist for 8 years, all at Suwannee River State Park. “I love my park because it is home. I know the history of the area like the back of my hand and interpreting to visitors comes naturally to me. The stories of the community are not simply read from a book but from personal experience. The park service was an unknown to me. I found it by accident but like so many things in life it is those chance encounters that change you forever."
Managing the natural resources is another passion Rianna has in her work for the Florida Park Service. Prescribed fire is an important tool that Florida state parks use in restoring and maintaining the Longleaf Pine habitat found in Suwannee River State Park. Along the main park drive you can see a flourishing sandhill habitat alive with gopher tortoises and wiregrass that thrive from a healthy fire cycle. The Sandhill Trail that weaves through this forest is Rianna’s favorite place to visit in the park. “Listening to the breeze whisper through the pines on a crisp fall day can bring peace and joy to anyone’s soul” says Rianna, and she is happy to be here to hear it.