AmeriCorps Florida State Parks
AmeriCorps Florida State Parks is an AmeriCorps program hosted by Florida State Parks that began operating in 1997. Members earn an educational award by performing a minimal of 1700 service hours within the program.
The program has 50 members that is divided into 30 Individual Placement members and two teams of 10 members that serve out of O’Leno (near Gainesville) or Wekiwa Springs (near Orlando) State Park. These members primarily focus on resource management and travel to other parks to provide service. The 30 Individual Placement members serve a specific park and may periodically join up with one or both of the teams for projects. The Individual Placement members are placed in parks throughout the state.
The work done by each member differs in accordance with the particular needs of the region or park. However, all of the members engage in some amount of the following activities:
- habitat restoration, usually through planting of native vegetation combined with invasive exotic species removal directed at imported trees and vines which displace the local ecosystem; substantial invasive populations include Australian pine, melaleuca, and Brazilian pepper
- Building park access facilities such as nature trails, bridges, boardwalks, and fences
- Bringing park facilities into ADA compliance by building wheelchair ramps and widening building entranceways
- Prescribed burns designed to simulate small forest fires that would occur naturally
- Cultural and historical restoration of state historic sites
- Environmental education of the local community, through programs conducted within the parks, and through visits to local schools
- Cultural and historical education through programs conducted at state historic sites