Volunteer Spotlight, Don Mock

Don, smiling at the camera.

Don Mock

Devil's Millhopper State Park

Don Mock has a special place in his heart for Devil’s Millhopper State Park. Having lived in Florida from his junior high through college years, Don felt that it would only be right that he returned after retirement. A current resident of Colorado, Don comes to Florida each winter to be a resident volunteer at the park. This park has played a grand role in his life. During a visit to the sinkhole, he and his (future) wife discovered their mutual love for nature. Their passion was so strong that they were even married at the bottom of the sinkhole the first year that the park was opened in 1976. Since then they have had many outdoor adventures together enjoying all that nature has to offer.

Besides the emotional ties to Devil’s Millhopper, Don also loves the physical lay of the land. A former micro climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Don is fascinated by North Florida's natural wonders. It would only make sense, then, that he is so drawn to Devil’s Millhopper with its mini rainforest like climate.

Don’s favorite part of his volunteer work is meeting all the visitors and seeing the wonder on their faces when they experience the park. “Vertical topography like this is so rarely found in Florida” he says. It’s always a treat for him as he’s leading a tour to the bottom of the sinkhole, with each tour he has the opportunity to re-experience it and shares this special place with visitors. Don says “There’s just something about the bottom of the sinkhole. When you’re standing there on a cold winter morning in a patch of sunlight, listening the bugs and splash of waterfalls... it’s so peaceful.”

The boardwalk was unfortunately damaged in 2017’s Hurricane Irma, but Don is excited for the reconstruction that is occurring so that he can get back to giving tours. Enlightening guests about this amazing natural feature is a passion of his that he can’t wait to get back to sharing.

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