Volunteer Spotlight, Fairlie Bagley
Growing up in Winter Haven, FL, Fairlie Bagley always loved the outdoors. She worked as a teacher for 39 years, and was invariably committed to taking her students outside to learn about the state’s habitats and environment. She says that her favorite thing about being outdoors is the sensory experiences that you can have - the sights, the smells and sometimes even the tastes! Once an avid cyclist, Fairlie now walks her favorite trails to take in these very sensations.
While Fairlie was working and living in the Orlando area for 30+ years, she always knew about the Florida Park Service. Her cousin was a park ranger and then park manager at several state parks, including Amelia and Little Talbot Islands. After she retired, Fairlie wanted something meaningful to do where she could follow her passion, and found it at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Familiar with the prairie through years of driving through on trips to Gainesville, Fairlie decided that this was her park. She says that it is a totally unique and neat place, “I always know where I am when I’m in this park. Here you look around and you see the Spanish moss and the saw palmettos and other plants, and you know you're in Florida.”
Fairlie brings her vast knowledge as a certified master gardener to her work with Paynes Prairie. She certainly knows her plants, and you can often find her in the visitor center identifying them for curious visitors, or else recommending trails or maintaining the store inventory. Fairlie also volunteers once a week in maintaining the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, helping to blow leaves and sticks off the path, as well as cutting back vegetation that could become a hazard to bicyclists and runners. She says that her favorite part about volunteering is getting to share her enthusiasm about this special place with visitors, and it shows. She hopes to see you soon at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park!