TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Park Service invites residents and visitors to enjoy Florida’s beaches, natural treasures and historic sites throughout July, which was designated as Recreation and Parks month by the governor.
The month recognizes the importance of recreational and educational opportunities available at parks and trails, including attracting new business and increasing tourism. During the 2012-2013 fiscal year, more than 25.5 million people visited Florida’s 171 state parks and state trails.
Young people have the opportunity to participate in Recreation and Parks Month by becoming Junior Rangers.
“Exploring Florida’s beaches, springs and forests is the perfect activity for a Junior Ranger,” said Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service. “Young people and their families can make lasting memories while enjoying beaches and springs for swimming, trails for hiking, campgrounds and cabins for overnight trips, and a variety of locations for picnicking.”
To join the Junior Ranger program, visit the park service’s website to find a nearby participating park. Junior Rangers complete six core activities to learn about natural and cultural resources, recreation, and service. The participants review their activities with a park ranger and earn a certificate, member ID card and the Official Junior Ranger Passport. From there, Junior Rangers can complete more activities to earn stamps for their passport to receive the Official Junior Ranger badge, patch or pin. The program is open to kids of all ages, but aimed for those in elementary and middle school.
An easy way to plan a fun trip to a park this July is to download the Florida state parks mobile app, available to smartphone users for free. This interactive guide gives users access to all state parks and trails with information on park amenities, facility maps and a real-time calendar of events.