Protectors of Lake Wales Ridge Honored
25th Anniversary of Ridge Rangers
Last updated 4/9/2019 at 3:10pm
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and partners celebrated the 25th anniversary of the FWC's Ridge Rangers Program on Saturday, April 6, at Lake Kissimmee State Park. The guests of honor were many of the volunteers, visionaries and agencies that have made this program a success, both past and present.
"The Lake Wales Ridge is one of Florida's most highly imperiled ecosystems," said Jeff McGrady, FWC Division of Habitat and Species Conservation regional wildlife administrator. "Public land managers are faced with many unique management challenges in this system and benefit greatly from the availability of this large volunteer program composed of individuals that are passionate about protecting our precious natural resources."
The FWC gave special recognition to four volunteers with the Ridge Rangers Program who have been dedicated and regular volunteers to the program. Tom Palmer, Marilyn Blair, Jerry Burns and Roger Bergere (see photo below) have worked an impressive combined 15,352 total volunteer hours with the Ridge Rangers Program, or about two full work years apiece. Their commitment to wildlife restoration through their volunteer work is to be commended.
The FWC offers a wide variety of ways that volunteers can get involved in programs throughout the state, such as various citizen science projects, wildlife surveys and invasive/native plant workdays.
The Ridge Rangers are an organization of volunteers helping restore wildlife habitat on the Lake Wales Ridge and nearby areas in central Florida by conducting group workdays and individual efforts on conservation areas. The Ridge Rangers are sponsored by the FWC and work with all conservation agencies on the Lake Wales Ridge.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet signed a resolution proclaiming April 2019 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. At the FWC, we celebrate our many volunteers who contribute time and energy to help conserve fish, wildlife and habitats, and help improve public access and skills related to outdoor experiences such as hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife viewing. More than 5,000 volunteers help with 86 volunteer projects annually, lending to the agency's success conserving the naturally beautiful habitat of Florida, which is key to wildlife sustainability.
For more information about available volunteer opportunities with the FWC, visit MyFWC.com/Volunteer.