The Florida Park Service Alumni Association was organized in 1989. Retiring FPS employees did not want to lose touch with an organization they felt so strongly about or the many friends they had come to know. Articles of Incorporation were filed and the Association soon became a reality. The two primary purposes of the Association are fellowship and providing support to the Florida Park Service and its employees.
Fellowship is an important function of the Association and is accomplished in several ways. Each year the Association holds its Annual Reunion, usually around the beginning of April. The reunion location changes, but is always held in a state park. Much of the Association’s general business is handled at this gathering and a lot of friendships are renewed and made. Another social gathering, the Family Fun Day, is held in the fall. The event is co-sponsored by the Division and the Association. Its primary purpose is to provide an affordable, fun filled event for park service people and their families and to recognize their tireless dedication.
Service projects and special event support have also been an important function of the Association. Projects include construction or renovation of various park facilities. Resource management and interpretive activities at special events are also provided. Preserving our history is also being accomplished through oral interviews of retired employees with over 30 interviews completed so far. Assistance with organizing and digitizing archival records is also provided.
In 1993 the James Cook Memorial Humanitarian Relief Fund was established to provide financial support to FPS employees & Association members in need. James Cook, who retired in 1988, cared deeply for all members of the “FPS family” and served as a mentor to many. This fund is a reflection of the Association’s purpose, as well as, the values of the individual it honors. Since its inception there has been over $85,000 distributed to individuals in need of financial assistance. Fundraisers such as raffles and auctions as well as donations have continued to provide funds to assist individuals and their families. The primary fundraiser for the Fund, the Arnold Kuenzler & Family Annual Auction, is held during the Annual Reunion.
In 1990 the Carlos Maxwell Award was established to recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to the missions of the Florida Park Service and the Association. Carlos Maxwell, an FPS Legend who retired in 1972, was a pioneer of many land management practices that are still in use today. His progressive thinking and unselfish leadership are honored by this award.
As one can see, the Association is a support organization to the Florida Park Service and its employees. Florida Park Service employees who have attained permanent status are eligible for Regular Membership. Because spouses are valued members of the FPS family, they too are entitled to Regular membership. For those who support the FPS and do not qualify for Regular Membership there are Associate and Partner Membership categories.