Volunteer Spotlight, Karen Blackford

Karen Blackford standing in front of the beach

Karen Blackford

Stump Pass Beach State Park

When Karen found Stump Pass Beach, she committed to preserving and protecting what she describes as “old Florida at its best. A diamond in the rough.” 

The granddaughter of a Clearwater Pass bridge tender, she has a lifelong connection to Southwest Florida’s history and natural environment. As a true friend of the park, Karen actively cares for Stump Pass and inspires its visitors to do the same. She regularly hosts volunteer beach cleanups, and she is a member of the Barrier Island Park Society and the Friends of Stump Pass organization. Her enthusiasm reaches out and grabs the attention of locals and visitors alike.

At Stump Pass Beach State Park, loggerhead sea turtles lay eggs in spring that hatch in late summer. Nesting shorebirds migrate to the beaches to nest in the spring as well. In the summertime, adults care for the newly born snowy plovers, least terns, willets and sand pipers. On the eastern side of the Stump Pass walking trail, the mangrove habitat provides a nursery for dolphins and gopher tortoises. Karen has taken an active part in learning about and sharing these natural wonders.

The understanding of Florida’s natural history helps Karen look to its future. She eagerly anticipates the creation of the Stump Pass Junior Ranger program. She also looks forward to continuing to inspire a community that appreciates the variety of natural habitats of the park. Karen understands that the adventure to knowledge begins with appreciation. The sound of the wind and the waves. The birdsong at sunrise. Karen Blackford believes Stump Pass Beach State Park provides visitors with a profound connection to nature. Keep an eye out for Karen on your next Stump Pass Beach adventure and prepare to be inspired.

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