Celebrating National Public Lands Day
Article and Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN
On the fourth Saturday of September, many volunteers participate in National Public Lands Day. It’s a day to bring together hundreds of thousands of volunteers to help restore the country’s public lands. On Saturday, September 28, 2019 many volunteers from individual and organizational groups gathered at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park to help with much-needed landscaping and general clean-up.
Laura Basamania maintains landscaping areas at the park and has been doing so for the past four years. Volunteers contributing their time is much appreciated.
“I love it! It’s wonderful, they (volunteers) are pulling weeds, putting down mulch. They are doing a really nice job,” Laura Basamania said.
Meet a few of those that pitched in to help beautify Hernando County’s most precious and historic park.
Glen Lakes Garden Club
“We have a whole lot of volunteers working at the park,” Gail Anderson, a member of the Glen Lakes Garden Club, said. “It’s volunteers giving back their time to keep the environment healthy. For Weeki Wachee (Springs State Park), in particular, we have a lot to old gardens that need to be maintained. There’s not enough staff to handle all this here, so we volunteers are very important.”
Girls Scouts of McDill Airforce Base Troop #1911
Members from Girls Scouts of MacDill Air Force Base Troop #1911 traveled from Tampa to participate in this event.
“We are here to give back to the community and teach (the girls) about community service,” said Panmary Keno, one of the group leaders.
Manatee Spruce-up Team
The idea to be involved in the National Public Lands Day came from Maria and Al’s son, Keoki. “We have been coming here since he was little, and has really brought us a lot of joy,” Maria LittleBear said. The family said they wanted to give back to the park because of how much enjoyment they gain as a family while visiting the park.
Weeki Wachee High School Key Club
Members of the Weeki Weeki Wachee High School Key Club participated in Saturday’s event
Ian Stafford, one of the five officers for the Weeki Wachee High School Key Club, organized the event for his club. “Since my specialty within the club is the environment, environmental things, I got everyone interested in the clean-up,” Ian said. “I think it’s important to show students that the environment is important. Because everyone around the world is saying, it’s not going to stay the same too much longer.”
Mark Abarizenski Park Manager for Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Park showed his appreciation throughout the day. He took the time to visit all those that contributed during National Public Lands Day.
“I am very grateful for the amount of volunteers that we have and continue to inspire people at the park. I think the park and its beauty and what it stands for is naturally a draw. It shows me there’s a lot possible,” Park Manger Mark Abarizenski said.
Whether it was an individual or a group, everyone shared a common mission. To give their time, to care about the environment and to enjoy what the park has to offer.
“It’s really about making in impact,” Mark Abarizenski said. “The fruits of their labor are going to be here for a long time.”