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Local woman elected president of Friends of Florida State Parks

By Staff | Jul 10, 2009

With a unanimous vote by the Friends of Florida State Parks, Bokeelia resident Elaine McLaughlin is now the president of the FFSP organization.
An advocate of eco-tourism, McLaughlin is currently working for the University of Florida Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sports and has been recognized for her outstanding efforts to promote travel and tourism in Lee County.
Among her many recognitions are the annual E-Awards named for McLaughlin which are presented each year to a business or individual in Lee County who have gone above and beyond to provide excellent services and promote public awareness.
McLaughlin also is the former executive director of the Lee County Visitors and Conventions Bureau and a past board member with the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce.
She also played an important role which brought the annual Great Calusa Blueway Paddling festivities to the island.
The FFSP is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of Florida’s 160 state parks.
Recognized as the state’s leading advocate of the state park service, the FFSP’s mission is to generate awareness about the state parks through educational programs and community outreach, as well as ensure the existence of these areas for future generations to enjoy.
FFSP also provides financial support to the state park system which the organization raises through memberships and donations.
The new officers of the FFSP organization have set some lofty goals for 2009 that include designing an aggressive campaign to raise awareness with regard to the benefits of becoming an FFSP member; sponsoring the annual state park Citizen Support Organization meeting, which brings together CSO leaders from around the state; to develop a campaign to increase corporate involvement in using and supporting state parks; to sponsor the State Parks Junior Ranger program; and to support citizen efforts to develop new Citizen Support Organizations in state parks that currently do not have one.
Serving as president elect is Virgie Thompson from Freeport, Secretary Tammy Gustafson from Orlando, Treasurer Don Jung from Winter Park and new board members Harvey Campbell of Lake City, Jon Friedrichs of Juniper, Sally Hess of Dunedin and Liza McFadden of Tallahassee.
The Florida State Park system is one of the largest in the country and many of the parks are open to the public year-round. The state parks encompass more than 700,000 acres which include 100 miles of beaches.
For more information about the Friends of Florida State Parks, visit: friendsoffloridastateparks.com.