Friends of Myakka River
Bob Frank, PhD
Bob has been visiting Myakka River State Park for over 25 years. He has hiked and biked the park’s many trails, but his first love is the park’s wildlife. “This is my Serengeti. I can come here any day of the week and know I will see something special. This is one of the must-do places we bring friends and family when they visit.”
During his working years, Bob was a professor and dean at several universities in Ohio. He is trained as neuroscientist and conducted research in the areas of drug abuse and human taste and smell perception. He retired several years ago and moved to Osprey, allowing him to visit the park more frequently. In addition to serving on the Board of the Friends of Myakka River, Bob is chair of his community’s Ponds and Preserves Committee. In his spare time, he and his wife Allie enjoy wildlife photography, cycling and summer trips in their travel trailer.
Bob is particularly interested in protecting the natural assets of the park so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.
Steve and his native-Sarasota wife have been volunteering at Myakka River State Park for about 15 years, with a special focus on exotic plant removal. Most of that work is done on horseback and even Steve’s horse has his 500 volunteer hours pin!
Steve is a lawyer, having retired as the Chief Assistant Public Defender of Manatee County where he ran the office and tried death penalty cases. His wife, Jean Blackburn, was on the board of the Friends for many years and Steve replaced her on this board when she retired.
With his legal background, Steve has helped with rewriting the bylaws and with negotiations with the county building department and state government. He is particularly interested in developing some activities to get park visitors out into the back country of the park.
Helen Jelks King
Helen’s mother, Dr. Mary Jelks, was integral in forming the Friends of Myakka River decades ago. Helen grew up hiking, biking, and fishing the Myakka River with her family and still enjoys those same activities in the park and on the river.
A retired optometrist, she has a passion for birds and is on the Board of Directors for Sarasota Audubon Society. In addition, Helen serves on the Sarasota County Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee advisory board and is on the Board of Advisors for Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Inc. She is also a board director of the Jelks Family Foundation, Inc. which primarily focuses on environmental causes in Florida. She is active in the First United Methodist Church.
As a new board member, Helen is anxious to discover new volunteer opportunities at Myakka River State Park and hopes to forge a path for the future of the park that will benefit people and nature alike.
Combining her two passions, being in nature and being of service to others, Sandy and her husband, Andre’, both have volunteered with Myakka River State Park for the last five years. Sandy supports various visitor service and administrative roles within the Park and has served as an active volunteer consultant to the Board of Directors of The Friends.
Having retired to Florida from Maine where she continues to spend her summer months, Sandy’s professional career included tenures as an insurance company executive specializing in investments and finance as well as a practice administrator for a group of physicians. In addition, she served in various positions on several boards of directors for charitable organizations in Maine.
At Myakka River State Park, Sandy enjoys walking the trails, gazing at the alligators and birds, encountering occasional deer along her way and myriad sights, sounds, and smells of nature. She looks forward to supporting The Friends’ efforts wisely to deploy the funds with which our donors entrust us.
Jeannie Hendrick Perales
A multigenerational Floridian, Jeannie appreciates the wilds of Myakka and is honored to serve on the Board. With so much habitat loss in our area in recent years, preserving and protecting what’s left is critical. Her love of Florida forests, especially hardwood hammocks, inspires her to protect this valuable ecosystem for future generations - an important goal for all who enjoy clean air and water.
Jeannie’s career centers on the intersection of art & nature in museums. At Selby Gardens, she designed public programs, worked with volunteers and mounted blockbuster art & horticultural exhibitions. Accompanying the botany team on field expeditions to Fakahatchee, Everglades, Belize and Costa Rica were transformative experiences that deepened her comfort in and enjoyment of nature.
Jeannie enjoys traveling, museums, spending time outdoors and exploring new places with her photographer husband of 20 years, their two awesome teens, a horse named Bernie and a dog named Amigo.
Tracey Long Beeker
Tracey recently returned to Florida, and over the last year, has been a frequent visitor, guest and community champion of the Myakka River State Park. She has taken advantage of the park's numerous hiking trails, the Friends' Bike Myakka! programs and Moon over Myakka concerts, and hopes to tackle kayaking next year. Professionally, Tracey is an award-winning marketing and communications strategist and has worked on numerous national brands including PBS, Reading Is Fundamental, Sonic Drive-In, Disney on Ice and several PBS KIDS educational programs.
As a member of the Board of Directors, Tracey looks forward to advancing the Friends mission and encouraging people to visit the park and experience its natural beauty first-hand.
Help us Protect and Share Myakka's Magic!
Join us as a Board Member
Becoming a member of the Friends of Myakka River’s Board of Directors can be a rewarding, high impact way to get involved with a community of like-minded individuals, who are helping support and grow one of Florida's oldest, and largest state parks.
It is also a meaningful way to apply your passion for Wild Florida, experience and expertise to help the Friends advance our mission to support Myakka River State Park and the Wild and Scenic Myakka River.
Curious to learn more about current initiatives where Friends of Myakka River could directly benefit from your talents and knowledge?
Ready to get involved and want to fill out a Board Member application?
Please contact Miri Hardy.