Volunteer Spotlight, Mark Perro

Volunteer Spotlight, Mark Perro

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park

Mark Ferro and his dog, hiking on a trail at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve.

When you think of Florida State Park volunteers, you may not think of someone like Mark Perro. He lives in Queens, New York, where he works full time in private industry, supports a variety of arts organizations, plays in a band and co-owns a Brooklyn bar. In short, he is busy. Despite his full life and great distance from Fakahatchee, his efforts have made a meaningful impact.

After Mark visited Fakahatchee Strand Preserve while in Florida in May 2020, he became a member of the park's citizen support organization (CSO), the Friends of Fakahatchee. When the organization’s executive director reached out to thank Mark, they began talking about other ways in which he could help despite his distance.

Mark joined the CSO's board of directors in March 2021 and immediately offered to chair the fundraising committee - the first time in four years that this position had been filled. Bringing his fresh perspective to the annual fundraising campaign, Mark changed the messaging to reflect his passion for Fakahatchee's resources. In doing so, he generated unprecedented success - a 100% increase in donations from previous years' campaigns.

It is apparent that Mark is driven by purpose in all he does for the park. While most of his volunteer time is spent raising money, he is always focused on the results those funds can have in the park. He is most excited about the reopening of the Janes Scenic Drive Visitor Center, recently renovated with CSO funds. As Mark explains, the visitor center will provide "an essential hub for park-goers on the brink of their Fakahatchee adventures" - perhaps on their way to his favorite hiking trail, East Main.

Mark’s contributions prove that volunteers take innumerable paths to service but are commonly moved by the spirit of dedication to natural resources. In Mark’s own words, “Being able to contribute to the preservation of one of the most unique biospheres on the planet gives me great joy and a sense of fulfillment.”

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