Friends of Myakka River
Friends of Myakka River, a non-profit organization that exists to support the Myakka River State Park, and the Wild and Scenic Myakka River, was one of the 10 organizations selected from over 40 applicants by the 2022 Giving Challenge judging committee as a recipient for the Best Video Commercial – a $1,500 prize.
The Giving Challenge, a 24-hour community-wide fundraising event, is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with giving strengthened by the Patterson Foundation. During this year's Giving Challenge, Friends of Myakka River will be raising funds for their new Outreach and Environmental Education Program.
Click HERE to view the Friends of Myakka River award-winning Video Commercial.
Click HERE to see the Friends of Myakka River's 2022 Giving Challenge Campaign.
The Board of Directors of Friends of Myakka River is pleased to announce that we recently elected Robert (Bob) Frank as a new member of Friends of Myakka River's board of directors.
Bob has been visiting Myakka River State Park for over 25 years. During his working years, he was a professor and dean at several universities in Ohio. Trained as a neuroscientist, he conducted research in the areas of drug abuse and human taste and smell perception. Bob retired several years ago and moved to Osprey, allowing him to visit the park more frequently.
In joining the board, Bob looks forward to supporting projects that help inform more people about the value of the park and the remaining natural areas in Florida. And he is excited to, together with the organization and Florida Park Service staff and volunteers, work to ensure that Myakka River State Park is here to inspire future generations.
“We are excited to add Bob's enthusiasm and skill-set to our board” noted Miles Millwee, President of Friends of Myakka River. “With his commitment to our new Environmental Education and Community Outreach program, he has already added an important element to our board, and we look forward to working together in the future”.
In his spare time, Frank and his wife enjoy wildlife photography, cycling and summer trips in their travel trailer
To learn more about Bob Frank, please see his Board of Directors PROFILE.
Friends of Myakka River recently launched a monthly program called “Bike Myakka! for Good”.
“Biking at Myakka is good for the body, mind and soul” Executive Director Miri Hardy said. And, as a low impact form of transportation, biking is also good for Myakka. “Our new service rides offer our Greater Sarasota community an opportunity to give back to this beautiful place, while learning about Myakka's delicate ecosystems, and history.”
With a free lunch, waived park admission fees and camaraderie also included, the inaugural ride on February 5thquickly reached capacity. Participants enjoyed a “Wild and Scenic” bike ride to the Clay Gully Pavilion, learned a bit about the history of roads and waterways in the park and completed an invasive plant removal project. In under an hour, the group removed enough Caesar Weed, a highly invasive plant which damages Myakka's habitats and displaces native plants, to fill 18 large trash bags.
Future rides will take place on the first Saturday of each month, with preregistration required. For more information, visit friendsofmyakkariver.org/events or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Miri Hardy
The Board of Directors of Friends of Myakka River is pleased to announce that we recently appointed Miri Hardy, PhD, as our first Executive Director.
With over 25 years of academic and global business experience, Miri brings an extensive background in strategic planning, marketing and education to our organization.
Driven by her passion for protecting Wild Florida, she recently worked with Save Our Seabirds, where she conceptualized an educational bird-themed playscape. On their behalf, she also wrote a weekly feature for The Longboat Key Observer about birds, threats they face in our environment, and how we can protect them.
This past year, Miri worked with Friends of Myakka River to increase our social media impact. Thanks to her engaging environmental education posts, videos and photography, she grew the Friends' Social Media following by 22%, and reached over 90,000 individuals; an increase of over 2122%. She also spearheaded new programming to build meaningful, and lasting connections with Myakka.
“We have grown from the beginning vision of our founder Dr. Mary Jelks, (Dr. Mary, as she was affectionately called), to where we are today; a well funded organization, supporting Myakka River State Park, one of Florida’s largest state parks, and the Wild and Scenic Myakka River.” noted Miles Millwee, President of the Friends of Myakka River. “And moving forward, with the creativity and strategies that Dr. Miri brings to our team, we'll be able to achieve an exciting new level of impact, especially in the areas of outreach, community engagement and education”.
In her new role, Miri is working with the board to develop and implement a strategic plan for the organization, which includes building awareness about Friends of Myakka River, further increasing the non-profit's impact through environmental education, and continuing to ensure the organization's long-term financial viability.
A Sarasota resident since 2014, Miri holds a PhD in Social Psychology from Washington University in Saint Louis. She is happiest exploring Wild Florida, oftentimes on her bike, and capturing its beauty through the lens of her camera.
Photo by John Jones
Thanks to volunteers and Friends members Earl Cross and Tom Adler for installing the bicycle work station in the south parking area and bicycle parking docks at the visitor center.