Staff assignment changes are underway at Silver Springs State Park. Park Manager, Sally Lieb, recently announced that Ranger Andy Kilmer, who served as staff liaison to our CSO, has been reassigned to a variety of new duties on the River side of the Park. Replacing him on the Spring side and as our new liaison is Ranger Ruth Fletcher who joined the Silver Springs staff several months ago. Sally tells us that these kinds of reassignments are intended to give Staff members a breadth of experience which is important for their future career growth in the Park Service. We are happy for them and feel so fortunate to have such a talented cadre of professionals to work with in support of the Friends of Silver Spring State Park. So keep on reading as we give a hearty shout out to Andy for all his contributions and a noisy trumpet blast to Ruth to welcome her as the new staff liaison to the Friends of Silver Springs State Park.
THANKS AND GOOD LUCK TO RANGER ANDY KILMER……
Andy came to the Friends of Sliver Spring State Park as staff liaison in early 2018. Since that time, he has helped us in so many ways and, in return, we hope that we have given him an interesting and valuable experience. It’s not always easy to manage the volunteer-staff interface but Andy always did so cheerfully and with a smile. We’d like to pay tribute to Andy by citing just a few of his skills and contributions.
Andy did a great job as our linkage with other entities such as Park Management and Cape Leisure to make sure that nothing fell between the cracks. He always made it a point to talk to everyone and helped people get connected on all our CSO’s various projects and issues
Being in the Park five days per week, Andy never hesitated to jump in and give us his active help on both small and large projects. He always stayed on top of all the important issues that we easily miss as part-time volunteers. Even on his days off, he’d make himself available to us when we needed him.
When it came time to get everything set up for our annual Critter Trail 5K Run/Walk, Andy was with our CSO team every step of the way. He was always available to hunt down signs, map out the trail, hang banners, advertise, bring water for runners…..you name it!. With a smile and infinite patience, he helped make the Friend's fundraiser a big success.
When we needed AV and logistical support for membership meetings, Andy always made sure things were set up on time.
When we needed new membership and sponsor brochures, Andy pitched in enthusiastically by contributing ideas and helping with drafting, editing and layout. He saved us lots of time and money!
When delivery of the Friends new penny-press machine was delayed due to confusion by the truck driver, Andy stayed with it and made sure the machine was safely delivered, unloaded and installed.
…..And Andy was always there to give us a heads-up on the myriad of issues that always arise with our CSO donation boxes, fire wood and ice sales, the Welcome Center, you name it!
We wish Andy luck and great experiences and look forward to seeing him thrive in his new position. We will remember Andy for all his cheerful help in smoothing out our path and helping us to climb the next hill. THANK YOU, RANGER ANDY…….
……..AND WELCOME TO RANGER RUTH FLETCHER
To get to know Ruth, we asked her to tell us about herself and her pathway to becoming a Florida State Park Ranger. This is what she said:
I was born and raised in Sandusky, Ohio with 2 sisters who are now in Ohio and Colorado. I went to college at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, studying Sociology-Criminology/Corrections and Abnormal Psychology. My parents were very active in the community and I grew up helping out and volunteering at not-for-profits. Every year, my family would vacation in Florida for 2-3 weeks, traveling all over the state. The first stop was Silver Springs Attraction. My parents retired to Florida in 2004 and I moved down in 2007 to be closer to my mother after my dad passed away. In 2010 I started Geocaching and started to get into hiking, camping and kayaking. Geocaching lead me to the State Parks where I found my love for the outdoors and the natural aspects of Florida. Having worked in retail/customer service my entire life, I decided to switch over and become a Park Ranger. I volunteered for a few years after which I took a position based out of Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring as a District Exotic Plant Removal Technician. After a year I accepted a full time Park Ranger position at Gasparilla Island State Park in Boca Grande in 2017. In 2018, I applied for a Park Services Specialist position at Koreshan State Park in Estero focusing on programs and events. I served as CSO liaison and Park Ranger and oversaw 6 large events, 17 programs, weddings, photographers, outreach and interpretation. Last fall I heard about a potential opening at Silver Springs and applied for it when it opened which lead me to be here today.
If I had to pick one thing about my job that I love the most…I couldn’t. There are many things. From helping to preserve and protect the natural resources of the State, to seeing children’s eyes light up when they see a newborn baby sea turtle in person, to families spending time together enjoying the thing we work so hard to preserve, to learning at least 8 new things a day…I truly enjoy it all. Having a position in the Florida Park Service is always changing day to day – whether it is doing a carpentry project, working on event decorations, trimming trees, doing a program on why bees are important. Each day is different from the next. I get to interact with some gracious visitors, work with great staff and alongside some amazing volunteers.
We followed up with a question to Ruth about CSO projects at other Florida State Parks that have stood out in her mind. She told us about two very different but interesting, fun and profitable projects she has worked with:
At Koreshan State Park, a program to teach blacksmithing skills started out as a privately-funded working shop not officially recognized by the Park. Ruth worked to bring the operation into the Park and the CSO there provided initial support by purchasing tools and other supplies. Eventually, the CSO took over the program and outside donations became a line item under its budget. Since that time, the program has taken off and expanded by offering blacksmithing classes which are limited to 3 people at a time and at a registration fee much lower than that of other similar classes in the area. The CSO profits by selling some of the resulting blacksmithing artifacts as well as a very popular project tee shirt which has been reordered more than 6 times in the past year.
At Gasparilla State Park, the annual Green Gala event marked its 23rd year anniversary in 2019. The event hosts 1000+ attendees to a down-home buffet-style dinner under a big tent in an unmatched Park setting. In addition to the $100 per person entry fee, other fundraising attractions at the Gala include an auction offering a variety of attractive donated items such as fishing charters and works of local artists. And the bidding really heats up over the very popular Ranger-for-the-Day service which provides one of the Park’s own best as a guide for customized, expert tours and an in-depth, off-the-beaten-path look at the Park. The Green Gala is in its 15th year and has attracted attendees from the local community and beyond who, like Ruth, want to have fun in their Park and support a good cause.
Ruth capped off the conversation by giving this “shout out” to Florida State Park Friends organizations (CSOs), “What a big asset the Friends groups are to Florida State Parks! Am looking forward to working with everyone!”
If you are not able to get to the Park to welcome Ruth, feel free to send her your personal welcome by sending her a message at Ruth.Fletcher@dep.state.fl.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.