Volunteer Spotlight, Ken Mercer
Ken Mercer, although not a Florida native, grew up in Largo, Florida. After moving here from Kentucky, he found a new home in Florida, choosing to raise his family here as well. As a child, Ken says that he was always encouraged to play outdoors. That enjoyment of the outdoors only grew stronger throughout his adulthood. Ken says that being indoors makes him feel claustrophobic and likes how that feeling disappears when he is in the wide-open spaces of a park. It is there where he truly feels comfortable and happy, and like that is where he should be.
When asked why he chose to volunteer at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park Ken said “I am retired, and I was sitting at home too much and volunteering seemed to be the thing to do. Since I started my doctor told me that whatever I was doing, I better keep doing it!” At the park, Ken is a jack of all trades. Although his focus is maintaining fire-lines, mowing trails, and mowing the park, he can be found working on the equipment, repairing facilities and pitching in any where he can. In his opinion he is here to do whatever he can to reduce the workload of the rangers. If you want to find Ken, you must look around the park. If he is working, he is out there somewhere. In his words, “you can find me wherever the grass grows.” If you see him on the mower, tractor or Kabota, flag him down. He is always ready to help a visitor find the experience they are looking for.
Ken’s favorite thing about this park is the fact that four months out of the year he gets to live in it. His site is on the water and he is surrounded by nature - he is living his dream. Each time of year at this park provides different experiences and he likes them all. But he would pick the summer time as his favorite because the growing grass keeps him busy, which he likes. When asked what keeps him coming back to the park, he says “The staff, the way the staff all cares about each other and the volunteers. I feel like a part of the team and park family.” Ken hopes to see himself returning to this park year after year, he wants to continue helping the park and being a part of the team.