Staff Spotlight, Thea Knott

Thea, standing in front of the springs.

Park Ranger, Thea Knott

Rainbow Springs State Park

As a Girl Scout in a Detroit suburb, Thea Knott made a deep connection to the outdoors and imagined that someday she would have a career as an environmental caretaker and live far from the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis. Her lifelong dream came true when she became a park ranger with the Florida Park Service. Thea often jokes that she wears her scout uniform to work.

Thea’s favorite place is on the swimming dock first thing in the morning as the mist gently rises off the water as the sun’s rays peek through the trees. The peace of nature recharges her mind, body and spirit.

Thea enjoys sharing the park’s story with visitors. Her favorite program is an old-fashioned campfire ceremony complete with skits, stories, songs and patriotic narratives. Audience participation is essential.

Thea is most proud of her role as a facilitator teaching park staff and educators how to use the Project Learning Tree hands-on curriculum to help children learn “how to think, not what to think.”

Rainbow Springs State Park is special to Thea because it represents the best of Florida’s natural and cultural resources. As a natural resource, the park was once home to Paleoamericans, Mastodons, and Wooly Mammoths. As a cultural resource, the remnants of the roadside attraction continue to delight park visitors, both old and young alike. Thea loves to listen to visitors’ stories as they share what the attraction was like during the attraction’s heyday, when visitors could ride in the submarine boats and the aerial monorail, swim in the springs, and enjoy the waterfalls, zoo, and quarter horse rodeo. Thea thinks the park is a virtual Time Capsule, offering many ways for visitors to connect to their heritage here at Rainbow Springs State Park.

For more information about the park, see Thea’s 4½-minute interview on the Florida Channel: Florida Portraits - Rainbow Springs State Park

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