FWC highlights efforts of 4,000 volunteers for Florida Volunteer Month
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Media contact: Sharon Tatem, 850-921-1047
“No time is better than Florida Volunteer Month to reflect on how much the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) appreciates its volunteers,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “FWC volunteers are exceptional – collectively and individually – in offering their time and efforts to help conserve Florida’s amazing wildlife diversity.”
More than 4,000 volunteers help with 80 volunteer projects annually, bringing a wide range of skills, experiences and perspectives to the FWC team. Their efforts lend to the agency’s success in conserving the naturally beautiful habitat of Florida, which is a key to wildlife sustainability.
Over the past six years, FWC volunteers have contributed 656,955 volunteer hours to make great strides in conservation as they tirelessly continue to:
- Fight the formidable battle against invasive species.
- Expand the range of many valuable imperiled-species-monitoring projects.
- Instruct Florida’s youth, residents and visitors on how to become responsible anglers and hunters.
- Educate the public about living with wildlife.
- Improve the visitor experience at many wildlife management and wildlife environmental areas.
For example, volunteers discovered a rare wasp species. This rare invertebrate effort was a partnership with the Florida Natural Areas Inventory to identify rare invertebrate species as well as determine invertebrate diversity at Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area and the Citrus Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest. Volunteers also expanded the nest box monitoring range for the Southeastern America Kestrel Partnership. Volunteers monitored 10 boxes in Hernando County during the 2011 breeding season and are currently monitoring 95 boxes throughout the north central and southwest regions of Florida. The kestrel nest box monitoring program is a citizen science effort to help biologists assess kestrel populations statewide.
Individual volunteers also shine as much as the collective work of all 4,000:
- David Blatt, from Chassahowitzka, became the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation Volunteer of the Year for 2011-2012.
- Bruce Antognoni, from White Springs, was the FWC’s Volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor of the Year in 2012.
- Danielle DeSilvestro, a high school student from Gibsonton, became a national finalist for the 2013 Future Farmers of America Proficiency Award for work completed with the Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study through the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute during the summer of 2012.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet signed a resolution on March 18 proclaiming April as Florida Volunteer Month. This resolution supports National Volunteer Week, which began in 1974 and occurs in April, to celebrate volunteers and encourage volunteer participation at the local, state and national levels.
“This is a great time to stop and thank our volunteers for their hard work and dedication to helping us further our mission,” said Wiley. Volunteering provides an opportunity for Floridians to help sustain and improve our habitat and wildlife for today and the future.”
To those who have not yet explored the rewarding experience of volunteering, it is never too late to get involved.
Learn more about the FWC Volunteer Program at MyFWC.com/Get-Involved.