2011 STATE PROGRAM Florida State Park Service and National Forests in Florida

2011 STATE PROGRAM Florida State Park Service and National Forests in Florida
The Florida Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service have shown leadership and innovation in cross-boundary public lands management.

In 2010, Florida Park Service entered into a partnership agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to place a Florida Park Service AmeriCorps member on each of the 3 National Forests in Florida. This groundbreaking partnership recognizes the need for an all lands approach to volunteer engagement and community outreach. The collaboration, now in its second year, enables 3 Florida Park Service AmeriCorps members to serve as Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinators on National Forest System lands. The idea is simple but unprecedented. FPS oversees a large and highly successful AmeriCorps program on its state lands, which enables parks to efficiently and effectively recruit, train, and manages volunteers.

The Florida Park Service AmeriCorps program is administered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and operates in Florida’s 160 state parks and their surrounding communities. In cooperation with park staff, local organizations and schools, AmeriCorps Florida State Parks members provide service in the areas of habitat restoration, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, prescribed burning, trail maintenance, cultural and historical restoration, environmental education and volunteer recruitment.

The Florida Park Service recognized an opportunity to enhance their capability to connect Floridians to "the Real Florida" by increasing the capacity of the U.S. Forest Service to engage youth and community members in service. The specific objectives of the Forest Service hosted Florida Park Service AmeriCorps members are: to recruit and assist in the administration of volunteers; to build community understanding of, and connection to, Forest natural and cultural resources; and to serve as an ambassador to the visiting public, helping to make their experience more enjoyable and fulfilling.

The FPS AmeriCorps members serving on National Forests have overseen numerous volunteer events ranging from small trail maintenance outings to large trash collection events with hundreds of participants. The partnership, created in a time of budget shortfalls, is an example of great leadership and vision. The U.S. Forest Service and the Florida Park Service invested in a belief that connecting people to their public lands, regardless of administrative boundaries, contributes to the greater sustainability of the whole.