Myakka River State Park is a well-loved local natural gem. To help our community better understand the increasing challenges its fragile ecosystems face, Friends of Myakka River, a local non-profit organization that supports the park, recently expanded its outreach and education efforts. “We were inspired by Sir David Attenborough, who noted that ‘no one will protect what they don’t care about and no one will care about what they’ve never experienced',” said Executive Director Miri Hardy, who joined the non-profit citizen support organization last year. “So we started actively sharing Myakka’s Magic.”
The organization leveraged social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, and created a monthly print feature called “Wild Florida”, which addresses important environmental topics in a colloquial manner. They also launched an award-winning service program called Bike Myakka for Good, which offers the community an opportunity to give back to the park while learning about Myakka's natural communities and history in the friendly company of like-minded individuals.
Under Hardy’s leadership, the new programming has allowed hundreds of thousands to personally experience Myakka while increasing their commitment to protecting this environmentally significant place. And, as most individuals were experiencing Myakka’s Magic remotely, potential negative impact on Myakka’s sensitive ecosystems was minimized by design. The organization has substantially increased financial support for the park's conservation mission while growing its membership.
Thanks to capacity building support from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, the nonprofit will be able to further increase its education efforts, outreach, and impact by retaining Hardy as its first full-time executive director. “I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity, which will allow us to continue to reach our community through our new Protecting and Sharing Myakka’s Magic roadshow, and create additional programs that will build meaningful and lasting connections with our beloved Myakka, to the benefit of this important natural resource, and our own.” said Hardy.
“Friends of Myakka River is strongly committed to preserving this rich piece of our local ecosystem and Sarasota County history,” commented Barancik President | CEO Teri A Hansen. “We are excited to see how the organization grows and continues to be strengthened through Dr. Hardy’s leadership as the nonprofit’s first full-time Executive Director.”
“Building on the superb foundation created by our Executive Director Miri Hardy, we look forward to growing our educational impact,” said President Bob Frank. “And we’re thrilled to be able to better serve Myakka River State Park by having the capacity to raise funds for upcoming capital projects that will enhance our community’s enjoyment and appreciation of Myakka. The next several years will be very exciting!”.
For more information about Friends of Myakka River, click HERE and for more details about scheduling a roadshow speaking engagement at your interest club, faith-based organization or community meeting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friends of Myakka River's award winning new program, Bike Myakka for Good, supports Myakka River State Park through service projects, environmental education and outreach. Photo: Miri Hardy