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Member profiles

We want to recognize two members of our CSO who have gone above and beyond!  Not only have Norm Yeagle and Candy Taggart distinguished themselves through their volunteer work since they became members, each has gone above and beyond by serving on the FSSSP Board of Directors for the past 6 years.  We interviewed them to get a brief glimpse of their accomplishments and insights.  We know that their stories will serve as inspiration for us all.  Mostly we are grateful that they both plan to stay actively involved in the Friends of Silver Springs State Park.  Thank you, Norm and Candy!


Candy Taggart

When did you first join and what drew you to the Friends of Silver Springs State Park?

I can’t remember the exact date but it was sometime during late 2010 or early 2011 that (husband) Phil and I joined the Friends.  We were newcomers to Ocala looking for ways to get to know people in town.  I had joined the Marion County Master Gardener program where I  met Friend, Ev Gawenda.  She talked us into joining.

What was the organization like then and what was your initial focus as a member?

I was attracted to the River Patrol because I really wanted to learn how to kayak.  Phil was a little skeptical and concerned about problems with gators but Mark Waiwada, who was then head of the River Patrol, took Phil out and put his mind at ease.  It wasn’t long - like two weeks later - that we were sold and went out and bought our own kayaks.  We fell in love with the river and soon Phil was helping to build the kayak ramp that is there in use to this day.

What Friends projects have you most enjoyed working on and why?

There have been so many.  I love doing face painting at events like Ocali Days.  I love seeing the kids’ excitement when they look in the mirror to see their new creations and we’re able to collect some donations for the service!  This led me to get a certification to do face painting safely and I even joined a local clowns group who donated almost $1,000 to the future All Accessible Glass Bottom Boat.  I also enjoyed working on new features to add appeal to our member meetings.  My favorite examples were a Jazz at Sunset program and a holiday party quarter-raffle that brought in $800.  But my real, all-time favorite was creating the idea and helping to breath life into a Welcome Center for the Park.  I and a core group of other members jumped at the opportunity to convert an old pizza parlor right inside the main entrance into a place where we could greet and help visitors.  We travelled to other Parks' Visitor Centers for ideas.  After much wrangling and shouting matches over issues like the best color to paint the place, we turned it into a venue for orienting Park goers to all of the great resources on both sides of the River.  Our new Welcome Center also became a perfect place for hosting our very successful and lucrative multi-year kayak drawings of chance and introducing visitors to our Friends group.  We even added a dog biscuit and watering station to accommodate folks who bring their pets. It has been a thrill guiding the Center through its growing pains to the success that it is today.  I hope we can attract lots of Friends to come and help staff the Welcome Center.  It’s a great place to meet other Friends and help visitors take full advantage of all that the Park has to offer.

What do you see as future opportunities for the Friends?

I believe that expanding outreach to the greater Ocala business community through sponsorships and fundraising will be a big part of our future.  Also working with other community service organizations to co-sponsor events such as Critter Trail is a great idea.  We have a lot to offer each other.  Kudos to Marianne Marcoux and others who have spearheaded these relationships.  Am also looking forward to hearing more about the development of the River Through Time which will give park-goers some added recreation and a look back at the history of the Park.   I look forward to staying actively involved going forward.


Norm Yeagle

When did you first join and what drew you to the Friends of Silver Springs State Park?

Sally and i joined in 2009 after touring through the Park.  We liked it and heard about a Friends meeting we could attend.  We had served as volunteers in the Boy Scouts for 34 years so we felt this was a good opportunity to do something we loved.  We’ve been actively involved ever since.

What was the organization like then and what was your initial focus as a member?

At that point, the Friends group was a lot more laid back.  I liked pitching in to help with Park maintenance like grass cutting, an activity which I still enjoy to this day.  As a volunteer organization, we were just starting to get organized and we had fewer members so a big part of what we did was to set up tables around town to tell people about the Park and the Friends.    We also helped the Park Rangers out with food events like Pancakes in the Park and hot dog sales.  Eventually, the Friends took these events over, grew them and we made them our own.  Pancakes has been super successful.  We now attract upwards of 100 people.

What Friends projects have you most enjoyed working on and why?

I like organizing things, so when the State took over the Spring side of the Park in 2013, I really enjoyed digging into all of the storage sheds to clean them up.  We inventoried all the supplies - paint, chemicals, tools and equipment - salvaged what we could and cleaned up the rest.  I have also really liked working on the new Park Welcome Center.  The place was a mess when the Friends got it so we had to do a lot of cleaning, painting and organizing to get it ready.  I found an old table which I rebuilt and painted and some chairs which I cleaned up so that we could have a meeting room.  Next came installation of a new sink and then, a major reorganization of the back storage room where we can keep track of and easily get at all of our office supplies, cooking equipment, member shirts…..you name it.  Sally and I really like working the Welcome Center too because it’s a great way to meet and greet visitors, tell them about the Park and make them smile.

What do you see as future opportunities for the Friends?

I see a lot of promise in some new strategic partnerships that the Friends can help form for the Park.  The new Board of Directors is comprised of folks with lots of good job experience and contacts in the community - business, technical, planning, you name it.  We are definitely going in the right direction.


About us

Friends of Silver Springs State Park is a Citizen Support Organization (CSO), a non-profit volunteer organization, dedicated to preserving and enhancing Silver Springs State Park. We support Silver Springs State Park by providing volunteers, educating visitors, hosting events and raising funds for specific park projects.

Become a member

Check out our Membership Page and join the Friends of Silver Springs State Park in its mission to enhance and preserve this natural treasure.  Our members meet the 2nd Thursday of most months in the Paradise Ballroom off SR 40.  Social time begins at 5:30 p.m. and meetings begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. often featuring a guest speaker.  


Contact us

fsssp4web@gmail.com

1425 NE 58th Ave, Ocala, FL, 34470

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