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Star Awards Nature Centers Commission citizen advisory board are seeking nominations for the annual Star Awards

take action and nominate someone for the 2019 Star Awards!

Nominations must be received before October 31, 2019 for service provided between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019 in the categories of Star Volunteer, Star Good Neighbor and Star Green Business. It's easy to nominate; however, self-nominations are not accepted.

a little history...

The Nature Centers Commission (NCC) assists the City Commission through recommendations and advice given in respect to developing programs, ordinances, use regulations and resource management policies as required to protect the natural system and other values to the nature centers of the City of Gainesville. The board is consists of 12-members each serving 3-year terms; city residency is not required.

Each year, NCC presents the Annual Star Awards to recognize individuals, groups, businesses or organizations for their positive contribution to Gainesville's natural environment. Nominations are accepted in the categories of Star Volunteer, Star Good Neighbor and Star Green Business, they are for contributions made from October 1 of the previous year to September 30 of the current year.

Florida spiny pod, Matelea floridana, 2018 Star Awards image

But who receives these awards?

Last year, the Star Volunteer Award recipient Tyler Carney was a reliable and committed volunteer at Sweetwater Wetlands Park dedicating over 70 hours in just the past year, and a total of 180 hours since 2015. Tyler was willing to help with everything including invasive plant removal, trail maintenance, boardwalk maintenance, landscaping, trash pickup, and educational programs.

The Star Volunteer Award recipient Katherine Ewel dedicated her career to natural resource education, having taught ecology courses and conducted ecological research in Florida for more than 23 years. She served as a member of Friends of Nature Parks, formerly Friends of Morningside, from 1979 to 1984.

Her expertise proved invaluable during her recent service on the Nature Centers Commission. From 2015 to 2018, Ms. Ewel served as secretary taking on extra responsibility making the board more effective and efficient.

Gary Paul was recognized as the Star Volunteer Award recipient, utilizing his extensive knowledge and experience to help facilitate events such as Native Plant Sales, Wildflower Walks, the Cane Boil and FiddleFest and the Poetry in the Parks initiative for elementary school children. Mr. Paul is a longtime member and current secretary of the Friends of Nature Parks, and is an advocate for natural and cultural history literacy and appreciation. Gary retired from the City of Gainesville's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department in 2014, after 21 years of dedicated service.

Thank you to Mrs. Flamand and her wonderful students at Buchholz High for helping judge this year’s "Poetry In The Parks" contest!

The Native Plant Sale is a seasonal event that features beautiful native shrubs, trees, wildflowers, ferns, grasses and vines grown at area nurseries. Vendors are members of the Florida Native Plant Society, and certify that plants are nursery propagated and grown.

Fetterbush, Lyonia lucida

Star Volunteer Award recipients Howard and Lisa Jelks have been instrumental in facilitating the Native Plant Sales for the last 15 years. Howard has been a leader with Alachua Conservation Trust, successfully passing Alachua County Forever and two Wild Spaces Public Places referenda, adding many new parks and improved infrastructure. Mr. and Ms. Jelks regularly participate in the Great Air Potato Roundups and Invader Raider Rallies serving in leadership capacities.

Howard Jelks has a lot of fun in his "official" role ;-)
Kids in the Woods

The Star Good Neighbor Award was awarded to the Westwood Middle School science team, along with partners the US Forest Service and University of Florida, for conducting the Kids in the Woods program at Loblolly Woods Nature Park. Teacher Sara Charbonnet and Assistant Principal Ginger Stanford champion the program encouraging its continuation year after year.

Thus far, over 1800 students have spent time outdoors conducting research and learning the scientific method while acquiring an appreciation for the natural environment.

"tells the story"

Check out the video that truly "tells the story" of such a successful collaboration and program!

don't forget... now is the time to nominate someone for the 2019 Star Awards!

Nominations must be received before October 31, 2019 for service provided between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019 in the categories of Star Volunteer, Star Good Neighbor and Star Green Business. It's easy to nominate; however, self-nominations are not accepted.

From last year's Citizens Recognition, the City of Gainesville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs is proud to recognize these amazing citizens who have made a difference in our community.
Questions?

Please contact Ella Bernhardt-Brooks at Ella Bernhardt-Brooks by brooksel@cityofgainesvillle.org, phone (352) 393-8353. She can also be reached by mail at the City of Gainesville's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, PO Box 490, Mail Station 66, Gainesville, FL 32627-0490.

but wait, there is more...

Want to learn more about Friends of Nature Parks? The Friends of Nature Parks are the original not-for-profit support organization which provides volunteers, supplemental funding, and advocacy for matters of concern to the nature parks. The Friends sponsors or cosponsors fundraising events including the Fall and Spring Native Plant sales, the Youth Fiddle & Open String~Band Contest at the Cane Boil, and the Farm and Forest Festival.

Top to bottom, left to right: Photo: Morningside owl by Larry Korhnak, Wendy Wood at Old Seed Swap Days, Morningside Nature Center trail, Don Musen with volunteer re-building paha structure at Morningside Nature Park, various native plants , Eastern Blue Bird, Morningside sandhills.