The Nature of Florida with Oscar Corral

Fran Mainella, the former director of the U.S. National Parks Service and Florida's state park system, talks about the possibility of a national park in Florida for springs.

June 21, 2022 Oscar Corral
Fran Mainella, the former director of the U.S. National Parks Service and Florida's state park system, talks about the possibility of a national park in Florida for springs.
The Nature of Florida with Oscar Corral
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The Nature of Florida with Oscar Corral
Fran Mainella, the former director of the U.S. National Parks Service and Florida's state park system, talks about the possibility of a national park in Florida for springs.
Jun 21, 2022
Oscar Corral

Frank Mainella, the first woman in the United States to direct the US National Parks Service and the Florida State Parks system, talks about the value of parks and the possibility of designating a new Florida Springs National Park. Is the concept of a “Great Florida Springs and Rivers National Park” a pipe dream, or is it possible to get the national park designation on some of Florida Springs? She says “I do not think it’s a pipe dream.” Hear more in the interview.


Show Notes Transcript

Frank Mainella, the first woman in the United States to direct the US National Parks Service and the Florida State Parks system, talks about the value of parks and the possibility of designating a new Florida Springs National Park. Is the concept of a “Great Florida Springs and Rivers National Park” a pipe dream, or is it possible to get the national park designation on some of Florida Springs? She says “I do not think it’s a pipe dream.” Hear more in the interview.


00:00:00:04 - 00:00:13:08
Unknown
Hello, everybody, and welcome. Welcome to The Nature of Florida, the Sunshine State's only podcast dedicated to its wild and natural places and the fight to preserve them. I'm your host, Oscar Corral, a two time Emmy Award winning filmmaker and journalist.

00:00:13:10 - 00:00:27:22
Unknown
I've dedicated much of my career to making films about environmental issues. Tune in each week to hear from a broad range of voices from scientists to surfers, activists to mermaids who are working on the front lines to save what's left of Florida's natural beauty and its wildlife.

00:00:28:09 - 00:00:46:05
Unknown
Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of The Nature of Florida podcast. With me here today is a very special guest, Fran Mainella. Fran was the first woman director of the United States National Park Service, and she served from 2001 to 2006 after her appointment and Senate confirmation by President George W Bush.

00:00:46:19 - 00:01:03:02
Unknown
Before that, she served as Florida's state park director from 1989 to 2001, also as the first woman to serve in that capacity. And she served three governors. And and while she was the director, they earned a gold medal award for the best state park system in the United States.

00:01:03:02 - 00:01:19:07
Unknown
So we're lucky to have her with us here today. Welcome, Fran. I'm so glad to be with you, Oscar. And thank you for all you do with this show, sharing it across our state, but also across the nation to be able to make sure people understand what great resources we have right here in Florida.

00:01:19:17 - 00:01:33:04
Unknown
But we also need to meet the challenges that they have in each one of those parks. Well, you have incredible expertize here. You've been the state park director and the national park director for the entire United States. Did you travel a lot in the national parks?

00:01:33:13 - 00:01:46:04
Unknown
I did. I travel. I was there for five and a half years, which made as a presidential appointment. That's a long stay. The average presidential appointment is two and a half years. So five and a half was a long stay.

00:01:47:03 - 00:02:08:11
Unknown
But I did visit 250 of what was then 390 units of our National Park Service. And so I felt so honored and I focused so heavily on our employees as well as the resources because I was director after 911 and I was actually director during that attack.

00:02:09:13 - 00:02:24:19
Unknown
And I imagine that you saw some incredibly beautiful places while you traveled around the United States. Do you remember any do any stand out? Do you anything. Any any of those places burned into your memory at all? Oh, so many of them are burned into our my memory.

00:02:25:05 - 00:02:49:23
Unknown
Most of your listeners will probably know, you know, about everything from Everglades to Yellowstone to Yosemite. But Glacier National Park was always one of my very special places. Not only was it an international park, but it also was something that had such diverse, like, going to the Sun Road and the ability to deal with the challenges of

00:02:49:23 - 00:03:11:19
Unknown
fire and so many other major issues. But it was a gorgeous and is a gorgeous park. And in Florida, as the Florida state parks director, I imagine you've also traveled extensively to different state parks. Any favorites there? Of course, John Petit Camp, Coral Reef State Park is in all honesty, that should have been a national park.

00:03:11:19 - 00:03:24:08
Unknown
There's no doubt about it. It meets all the criteria and would have been selected, I'm sure, by our nation had the state not already grabbed it up, which they did very well to make it a make it a state park.

00:03:24:08 - 00:03:38:24
Unknown
But it is a great park. But we have our springs and I know you've done some work on our springs. They are such an important story in the state of Florida. And also we have caverns in the Florida state park system.

00:03:38:24 - 00:03:52:12
Unknown
I mean, people don't think about caves and being able to go underground and do those kinds of experiences. And we do have those up in the northern part of our state. So we're very diversified, but of course, our beaches.

00:03:53:10 - 00:04:08:21
Unknown
We are so well known for our beaches and as Mr. Beach would say, he likes to name a lot of our parks as part of those great beaches in the United States. We definitely have some beautiful beach state parks all over the state of Florida.

00:04:09:01 - 00:04:31:03
Unknown
Down here in Miami, we have a Bill Baggs State Park, which is on the southern tip of Key Biscayne, a beautiful state park. And it's a great it's a great one. In fact, it was hit heavily by Hurricane Andrew when I was director and to work to restore that to a better ecosystem actually, than it was prior

00:04:31:03 - 00:04:53:19
Unknown
to because it was my. The positive side of Andrew was that it was a great invasive plant removal right by force, those Australian pines melaleuca issues. But typically Australian pines were removed and then we were able to restore through the help of our congressional delegation.

00:04:56:13 - 00:05:19:01
Unknown
Senator Graham and also Congresswoman Meek and others helped me so much to get moneys to be able to do that. Ecosystem restoration is one of the best ecosystem restorations of wetlands set up at bill bags. After Hurricane Andrew, it was really it's it's really significant.

00:05:19:01 - 00:05:34:04
Unknown
And we had those some of the positive things that came out of Andrew it's changed so much that parks since I was young. I remember going there when I was a young when I was a young boy and and seeing Australian pines everywhere and thinking that, you know, that's those are the trees that belong here.

00:05:34:04 - 00:05:51:18
Unknown
They're beautiful. But then after Andrew, we actually planted native native trees and native plants and it looks like a completely different park. Still beautiful, just different. And so you see how that how that opportunity was kind of the silver lining of Hurricane Andrew's destruction that you were able to replant and bring it back to more of its

00:05:51:24 - 00:06:11:09
Unknown
native state. And remember, those seagrass of the sea grapes were able to stay even during the huge winds of Andrew, they were able to stay. And that's because they are a native plant that really grabbed on to the soil and really made sure that they helped hold that park together.

00:06:12:11 - 00:06:24:02
Unknown
Fran, so tell me a little bit about your your background to you. You're now in your seventies, but you you're thrilled and your love of nature started when you were a young woman and a girl. Tell me about that.

00:06:24:03 - 00:06:38:10
Unknown
How did you get into this? I have been in love with the outdoors since I was a child. I used to go outside to play. And, you know, I was all outside nature. And I was also in the scouting.

00:06:38:10 - 00:06:55:12
Unknown
Girl Scouts started as a brownie. My parents were helped by being leaders of the troop and things like that. And so I love that outdoors. And so being in the outdoors and then being in the scouting, I went all the way to, you know, to be a senior scout.

00:06:55:12 - 00:07:11:16
Unknown
And then I was recognized as a woman of distinction for the scouting organization after my time as director of the state park system. So it's been a great honor to be involved with scouting. And of course, boy, scouting also is such an important role.

00:07:11:16 - 00:07:31:24
Unknown
And as State Park Director and National Park Service director, we work closely with those programs. We had Team Green. We had a number of different programs that work with scouting. And what did you study in college? How did you continue your interest in how were you able to channel that into these these leadership roles?

00:07:32:17 - 00:07:53:19
Unknown
Well, I started out, in all honesty, I was going to be a physical education teacher. So I my my actual undergraduate is in education as a physical education major. And I also took recreation. But recreation as a major back in my day of graduation was not something that was very prominent.

00:07:54:09 - 00:08:15:04
Unknown
And but I had worked my way through college. So I've been in the field of park and recreation since the 1965. That's 57 years. And I was working part time as a summer playground counselor in Groton, Connecticut. And that's like as low as you can be.

00:08:15:05 - 00:08:36:11
Unknown
You're cleaning restrooms, you're doing all kinds of things and, you know, playing Foursquare and doing, you know, taking them off field trips. But that was a real core and I enjoyed it so much. So I always continued, even though I was a physical education teacher in a middle school and then a high school in Rockville, Connecticut, which

00:08:36:11 - 00:08:55:07
Unknown
is just outside of Hartford. I ended up working summers and weekends with Parks and Recreation. So I continued and always had my hand in the park and recreation. When you were here in Florida, you you became a Florida State Park director.

00:08:55:07 - 00:09:14:16
Unknown
How did you make that jump from teaching physical education to getting into environmental stewardship and conservation? My moved to Florida. My husband was a television anchor and so he his name was Lee Manila and he was on TV both all across the state.

00:09:14:16 - 00:09:37:02
Unknown
Actually, he was on different in different networks. He used to be on the wheel with Ralph Renick from those in the Miami area from long ago. Might remember that name. He was on that station and he was on so many stations through the years and then covered the Capitol from Tallahassee.

00:09:37:19 - 00:09:54:16
Unknown
And so that brought me to Tallahassee. And in Tallahassee, that's when I moved on to being my from being a teacher to being full time park and recreation. I became the first white person to work in an all black, historically black.

00:09:56:07 - 00:10:11:10
Unknown
Community Center called Jake Gaither Community Center. And so that was my introduction into full time park and recreation. And so from there I continued to work in the field. I moved on when my husband had a television job change.

00:10:11:10 - 00:10:27:05
Unknown
I moved on to Lake Park, Florida, which is near West Palm Beach. And I became the director for Lake Park, Park and Recreation. And there was only like. Two other women in the state. There were park and recreation directors at that time.

00:10:27:12 - 00:10:48:04
Unknown
Hmm. And then from there, I was very active in my professional associations, which called the Florida Recreation Park Association. And when that opportunity to be executive director opened up, I grabbed it and on I went. That took me back to Tallahassee because at the same time my husband was moving back to Tallahassee, so it was working out

00:10:48:08 - 00:11:10:08
Unknown
. Now, while in Tallahassee as executive director, I was also the lobbyist. So I got to work with Department of Natural Resources, work with the folks, the decision makers that make up the state legislature, the governor and others. And with that, I learned how important our parks were talked about economic importance.

00:11:10:18 - 00:11:28:01
Unknown
I talked about enjoyment and resources. And then when the state park directorship came open in Florida. I was able to, after 8 hours of interviewing and competing with two gentlemen in the final group, were able to land the position as director.

00:11:28:17 - 00:11:42:18
Unknown
And from there I stayed for 12 and a half years, won the gold medal. And then when the opening came up to be National Park Service director, I went on Now I served under George W Bush as director, but I was also a finalist.

00:11:42:18 - 00:11:59:19
Unknown
And I don't know if you know that under Clinton, I was in the final two. Oh. Bob Stanton, the first African-American, became the director. And he's a good friend of mine, and I was the other. So I would have been the first woman.

00:11:59:19 - 00:12:17:19
Unknown
So President Clinton at that point was looking at a change. And so he went with and a right decision, because Bob Stanton had been there in the Park Service for many, many years, like 30 years. So he knew the system and he also, as he said, he also knew Hillary.

00:12:17:20 - 00:12:39:14
Unknown
So that helped do it, right? That doesn't hurt. Personally, no. I think that he went on, but then it came open. And again, this position as National Park Service is actually a professional appointment. Yes, it is. Presidential. So that means it does have a party linkage, but it is there's a lot of flexibility.

00:12:39:14 - 00:12:59:24
Unknown
That's all I can say right now. And that in the Senate, I was unanimously confirmed. Tell me about the national park assets we have in Florida. Oh, we have such great assets in the state of Florida. I particularly as part of my give back today, I am the West Coast chair, which means I'm on the West Side

00:13:00:09 - 00:13:16:07
Unknown
over here in the Naples Bonita Springs area for the Alliance for Florida's National Parks. And they're a great organization. I encourage everyone to get involved with them because it's a way for us to help and those that we help.

00:13:16:07 - 00:13:40:08
Unknown
The following parks. Everglades National Park. Biscayne National Park Dry Tortugas National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, and we are so proud of that. Of course, throughout the state, though, you can go to the north. Go to go to heading all the way up to Saint Augustine, to the Castiel and all the things that are there.

00:13:40:17 - 00:14:01:08
Unknown
And we have some wonderful parks within the state, but I'd tell you, you've got them right here. The the gems are right here in your backyard. And the people that want to come to the parks from, you know, our international visitors, the 63 national parks, there's now 423 park units.

00:14:03:02 - 00:14:21:07
Unknown
The 63 national parks. What is the big draw for those that are coming into this country? But it's also for many of us, we want to visit those national parks because they have the most signature criterias. And to be a national park is a great status on that note.

00:14:21:10 - 00:14:44:17
Unknown
And this is something that I brought up in my film, The Fellowship of the Springs. There is the talk of. Possibly designating a certain amount of springs in Florida as the great Florida Springs and Rivers National Park. And one of the areas that they're talking about is the Ocala National Forest area, restoring the Ocala, Oklahoma River up

00:14:44:17 - 00:14:58:21
Unknown
north, which has 20 Drowned Springs right now, and including even Volusia Blue State Park, which has, you know, all the manatees in the winter. In other words, carving out a section of North Florida and creating another national park in Florida for the springs and rivers.

00:14:59:09 - 00:15:12:20
Unknown
And it's because the Florida has the largest springs and the highest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth in the whole world. What kind of what does that do to the status and the protection of a natural feature of being a national park?

00:15:13:21 - 00:15:31:03
Unknown
I can give a really strong example. While I was National Park Service director, I was able to change the title of Congre National Swamp. I was a swamp memorial. It was named. It was under a presidential kind of status.

00:15:32:03 - 00:15:46:16
Unknown
But we added additional lands to it and could show the significance that it met the high criteria of a national park. We met, we were able to change that name, and that does require Congress to vote on that.

00:15:46:17 - 00:16:09:21
Unknown
That's both Senate and House as well as the president to sign off to make it a national park unit. With that, that visitation goes like tripled as soon as that happened. But it also means that extra special attention through the National Park Service is always given to make sure our national parks, which are viewed at that highest

00:16:09:21 - 00:16:27:07
Unknown
criteria to be in that if you're going to get that status, are given the protection dollars and things of that nature that are so important. They also are the ones that can attract sometimes other foundations and outside moneys, just like we the alliance.

00:16:27:15 - 00:16:54:03
Unknown
Your moneys to Everglades National Park. Yes, we do do it to Big Cypress, but probably proportionately higher to some of our national parks. But we really you get there's so much more focus not only by the public, not only by the decision makers, but also by our own employees, staff and otherwise that are very protective of all

00:16:54:03 - 00:17:08:14
Unknown
our park units, but particularly our 63 national parks. I remember reading a couple of years ago under the previous presidential administration that there was another national park added. Actually, a couple of them. One was New River Gorge in West Virginia.

00:17:08:18 - 00:17:26:14
Unknown
Yes. And another one, I think the the Great Lakes Seashores in Indiana. I forgot the exact name of the park, but they were both designated as national parks. And so is it a pipe dream that there could be the possibility of another national park in Florida to protect the springs and rivers and in in this national forest

00:17:26:14 - 00:17:47:08
Unknown
area? No, I do not think it's a pipe dream. I think that's something knowing our springs, they're so significant, so unique, which is all part of the criteria. We have to check acreage. We have to check how you know, how you know, because one of the things with national parks, we try to keep them so that they're

00:17:47:08 - 00:18:02:23
Unknown
not too spread out as we go. So that's one of the things that might be a factor for us to work on. This certainly can't physically move them, but we got to somehow link them together more aggressively. But I think that's all a possibility.

00:18:02:23 - 00:18:21:03
Unknown
And the key is to do that again, that that can't be done through presidential determinations. I can't be done through just the organic act. It has to be done through senators. House of Representatives voting and then getting the president to sign off.

00:18:21:04 - 00:18:33:12
Unknown
So it's a it's a fairly lengthy it goes through the National Park Service for criteria have to apply you have to go through. It's it's quite a bit. It's it's years of work to do it. But it can happen.

00:18:34:17 - 00:18:47:00
Unknown
Wow. It's I mean, it sounds like you've, you know, this process well, you saw expansion in national parks. I did. And and what is it like? How exciting is it for a community to see a national park all of a sudden designated in their in their community?

00:18:47:00 - 00:19:05:19
Unknown
Or are there people who object to it? Oh, no. Most people want to have it because they understand. They want to for different reasons. Some because of that visitation and the economic stimulation that takes place as a result of a national park being in their premises.

00:19:06:01 - 00:19:25:17
Unknown
It's a status piece because that means there there's resources of that great significance. That they're labeled a national park and are being recognized by entire Congress and the president to that to those standards. And so it is a it's great to do as I did.

00:19:25:17 - 00:19:44:06
Unknown
Used to have a trivia question. Back in my day as director and others was the. What's the one state in the nation at the time of. In the up until 2000. Hmm. Six or seven, I guess. No, no, it was after seven because it was.

00:19:44:11 - 00:20:00:18
Unknown
Anyway, that did not have a national park unit. There's one state in the nation. I don't know. Delaware. Delaware. And yet that's your first state. So the first state had grabbed up through the state park system, all the wonderful sites.

00:20:00:18 - 00:20:12:00
Unknown
And there are so many wonderful sites in Delaware. But I remember at that time Senator Biden. Coming and knocking on my door or I go to see him. Of course you'd say the right door. I need to see you.

00:20:12:11 - 00:20:30:10
Unknown
And wanting a national park unit in. Delaware. And he wanted it for economics, wanted it for status, wanted it for the people of Delaware. And I said, Senator, I'm glad to work with you. But here's the criterion that's pretty involved.

00:20:30:16 - 00:20:43:09
Unknown
Where do you see? I said, you're going to get to the state park director. That I was a very good friend of mine. You're going to get the chairs are going to give up a prop to me. And he said, no, I guess I'm not going to do that.

00:20:43:09 - 00:20:59:16
Unknown
I said, Well, because all your other ones are sort of spread every which way. And so in the end, I knew when he came in as vice president, they would use going through the presidential time, not through Congress.

00:20:59:17 - 00:21:15:04
Unknown
They were able to get name the National Park Unit, non national park with a unit. But it is kind of spread out and it's something that may or may not have met the National Park Service criteria as far as to be a park.

00:21:15:04 - 00:21:28:03
Unknown
National Park. But but it was that would took care of my trivia question. But it means that he here the president of today does care about our parks. And he has a wonderful new National Park Service director who I've had a chance to visit with and have.

00:21:28:22 - 00:21:50:22
Unknown
He's come to see me. And Chuck Sams is is doing a great job. And tell me about the the psychological importance of these national parks. There's a new series on Netflix right now, narrated and hosted by former President Obama, who visits national parks around the world and talks about their significance and the meaning that they hold for

00:21:50:23 - 00:22:10:02
Unknown
different communities. Tell me about that significance. Well, I was very pleased to see the president was doing that and that I mean, these national parks, we want supporters to be there for them. They they can't be forgotten. They've got to be something that people realize are so important in their everyday lives.

00:22:10:24 - 00:22:23:17
Unknown
And one of the things and probably this is helping the the spurt of interest in our national parks, I know that last year in this year, we are having reservation systems to get in many of our national parks.

00:22:23:20 - 00:22:36:01
Unknown
That's never happened before. We've had a to get into lodges. We've had to get into other things but not get to the not come across the gate. You might have to wait in line, but it was never you had to have a reservation.

00:22:36:10 - 00:22:59:13
Unknown
Well, now you do. And part of that is a spin off again, just like Hurricane Andrew had a lot of some positive spinoffs. One of the positive spin offs of COVID has been the greater appreciation. Of nature of it being a safe place, a place where you can enjoy yourself and not be quite so worried about being

00:22:59:13 - 00:23:21:07
Unknown
ill. It has the the health piece is come out so dominant with our national parks that I think that this is something that you're going to see continue to grow. And I imagine I haven't seen any of the previews yet other than just a little trailer to piece with the new series.

00:23:21:07 - 00:23:39:18
Unknown
It'll be on Netflix, but I'll be watching myself to be able to see. But my guess is that appreciation of our nature in our parks is going to increase because we are wanting to be outdoors and President Obama certainly will help increase that as well.

00:23:40:04 - 00:23:54:04
Unknown
I think it's interesting that he's narrating a piece on the national parks because oftentimes there's a lot of discussion about how minorities, you know, black communities, Hispanic communities are often not as familiar with natural resources in their backyard.

00:23:54:12 - 00:24:14:14
Unknown
National parks, state parks, for whatever reason, they they live in urban areas. They don't get out to those areas as often. And so I think that his narration maybe, maybe helps bring awareness about those places to some of these communities that may or may not have, you know, may not have had a chance to visit them and

00:24:14:14 - 00:24:31:23
Unknown
get, you know, familiar with them. I think definitely that's the case. I know for me, when I came in as director of the Florida State Parks and then also as national parks as the first woman. All of a sudden, more women were viewing themselves either as visitors or staff.

00:24:32:21 - 00:24:49:05
Unknown
So we ended up with more women, both in national parks and Florida state parks as park managers and in leadership roles. That's not even just coming in as the starting position. They might have been in there, but now they could see that they could be in those positions.

00:24:49:18 - 00:25:12:05
Unknown
With President Obama doing this, it will help allow, I think, people of a more diverse backgrounds, more people, you know, you want to see yourself there. And I think that's going to help immensely for our national parks. And I'm so appreciative that he is doing this and one that I think will be a very positive situation.

00:25:12:05 - 00:25:23:16
Unknown
I remember I didn't work with him as president, but I knew him as a senator. He wasn't on my committees, but he was always kind in the hallways. So. Oh, good. You were a member of the Children and Nature Network, right?

00:25:24:01 - 00:25:44:06
Unknown
If I remember correctly. Are you still on the border? I'm on the what's called the Founders Council now, but I'm still helping them out. In fact, I'll be going to their conference in May, which will take place in Atlanta coming up in I think it's a main the night through the 12th is taking place in Atlanta.

00:25:44:14 - 00:26:05:22
Unknown
But Children and Nature Network and Richard Lieu, Richard Louv and I are very good friends. The author of Last Child in the Woods The Nature Deficit Disorder Concept. And he was a I think he saw that well before any COVID or anything has been is the realization that there is a a a you know, people need to

00:26:05:23 - 00:26:29:01
Unknown
realize they need to get off their phones and get outdoors. It's healthier. It's happy. It's something that is going to continue to increase your ability to succeed in life academically as well as in health, good health. I think there's been studies done that show that spending a little bit of time in a natural setting helps restore certain

00:26:29:07 - 00:26:46:19
Unknown
moods, certain kind of positive emotions in people. And I think the Japanese have a term for it. They call it forest bathing and and, you know, they'll go out and they'll just stand in a forest or sit in a forest for an hour or two and just just sit there and soak it in and and then go

00:26:46:19 - 00:27:02:18
Unknown
back to their city lives. And I think that there's some there's definitely some anecdotal truth to that. And and in my in my opinion, you know, going out into nature is very restorative. You know, you're hearing different sounds than you do when you're in an urban setting.

00:27:02:18 - 00:27:16:08
Unknown
You're not hearing air conditioners turning on and cars running and airplanes flying overhead. You know, you're hearing that you're hearing the wind in the trees and you're hearing birds singing and you're hearing footsteps and you're hearing maybe a distant call of some animal.

00:27:16:24 - 00:27:33:18
Unknown
It's just a totally different experience when you're out there. And and I think that Florida offers so many places where people can do that. You know, it's down in South Florida. Of course, you have Big Cypress, you have the Everglades, but you have smaller parks, state parks, too.

00:27:34:21 - 00:27:51:11
Unknown
And so do you think that it's it's something that children should be more exposed to when they're younger, especially now, when there's so much technology distracting them? Oh, I definitely do. That's one of the reasons we created something called wine and wildlife barbecue.

00:27:51:12 - 00:28:06:06
Unknown
I think you had Joe was a loose guy. Oh, sure, Graham. And he was one. He's been with us a number of years. He was gone this year because he was traveling across the country. But he he has helped us with with with that.

00:28:06:06 - 00:28:23:02
Unknown
But part of and Pedro Ramus, who is out I mean, we are so lucky to have Pedro in this area here for us. And I've worked with him through my whole time as director, and there's many stories there that we don't need to tell now, but.

00:28:23:06 - 00:28:33:14
Unknown
Well, maybe. Maybe you can put in a good word for me. I've been trying to get him on this podcast, and I did make sure I told him I was going on the podcast and I said, Oh, it looks pretty good.

00:28:33:24 - 00:28:50:14
Unknown
That's good. Good. All right. We'll do it tomorrow. Opening there. Maybe there's a door opening. You may be able to help me on that. So but he is outstanding and we are so lucky to have him as as a particularly I think with him as a Hispanic too.

00:28:50:14 - 00:29:12:16
Unknown
It makes so more people feel welcome too also. But he helps us with all our parks. But I he encouraged me. He wanted to help us raise more money. There's never enough money in government to pay for running our parks properly, not to do the educational programs, not to do some of these you know, some of the

00:29:12:16 - 00:29:28:05
Unknown
hunts. You know what we're doing, pythons, everything else, all that picked partners. And so the alliance is why give back to try to help and and Pedro. Want me to come on and do that? So we created this wine, a wildlife.

00:29:28:24 - 00:29:44:21
Unknown
It's something that it'll be on February 28th of 2023 and hope people might want to come. It will be over here in Naples at the Sailing and Yacht Club, but it's a way for us to raise moneys. And one of the groups that we typically raise money for is what we call the Swamp Kids.

00:29:45:20 - 00:30:03:19
Unknown
It's you know, we have a program that sixth graders, every sixth grader over here in Collier County gets to go into the park and gets out in the park and does a semi swamp walk type thing. Actually pretty good with swamp walk for the most part, depending on the weather.

00:30:04:04 - 00:30:20:10
Unknown
And so they call it slogging. Slogging. Correct. Right. Yes, exactly, Nancy. It's wonderful. So those are things we got to get our children out there to do more of it. And I think you've had Jenny on from of some from Everglades and south.

00:30:20:10 - 00:30:42:07
Unknown
And, of course, our own people, our staff for the Park Service at Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas, all are very ready to help the young people. And we we need to start. And as Rich Alou would say, he remember he wrote that book vitamin in making sure right from that early childhood onward.

00:30:42:13 - 00:31:02:18
Unknown
And that's what Children's Nature Network tries to promote, is making sure we get all ages out and connected to nature, because that will be you will. The science shows you'll be more successful in your careers, in your not, you know, not just health, but in careers, other things of that nature.

00:31:02:18 - 00:31:24:10
Unknown
If you are outdoors and being able to connect to, you know, to playing in nature. Fran, correct me if I'm wrong here, but I believe that Miami or South Florida but Miami in particular is the only major metropolitan area in the world that has two national parks on either side of it.

00:31:25:23 - 00:31:40:23
Unknown
I should know that answer, but I don't know. But I bet if you raised you know, I've done some articles and you're right, I skim some Google pages and looked around. And I believe Miami is the only major metropolitan area in the world that is sandwiched between two national parks.

00:31:41:05 - 00:31:58:19
Unknown
I have a theory that Miami should be a very environmentally conscious place. Right. And yet it is not. And it's not because there's anything wrong with Miami. I think it's because Miami is a major urban area and major urban areas are so populous and it's so difficult to get a large part of that population out to the

00:31:58:19 - 00:32:12:21
Unknown
parks and get them familiar. That education, you know, starting with young people, is so, so important because it awakens them and it opens their eyes at a young age to what they have around them and these precious places that they that they can visit at any time.

00:32:13:04 - 00:32:27:09
Unknown
I think it's an incredible opportunity to educate people when they're young and to get them familiar with these with these assets in Miami is, you know, Miami has the Everglades, Big Cypress nearby and Biscayne National Park and then a little further south, Dry Tortugas.

00:32:28:05 - 00:32:45:07
Unknown
But what, what, what luck we have and what incredible good fortune we have to have these places near us. And and so how important do you think it is for these young people to go out there? And, I mean, we teach young people about so many different things to teach them about their own backyard and the precious

00:32:45:07 - 00:33:00:24
Unknown
nature they have around them. Well, I think it's critical. I think it's it's important for our future, not only for the Miami area, but for all of us across our nation to make sure our children understand that going outdoors.

00:33:00:24 - 00:33:17:20
Unknown
And this is also why I'm on the Children Nature Network. You know, I still stay involved with them. I'm on the Alliance. I'm on the Institute for Parks Board. You know, I'm on it's all about helping others to realize, including your children, that it's okay to get dirty outside.

00:33:17:20 - 00:33:39:16
Unknown
It's okay to they will be more successful by giving them some of that outdoor time than just study, study, study. And yes, you got to study, but you got to combine. And that's why Children Nature Network has so many programs and so much is free for teachers and everything else.

00:33:39:17 - 00:33:54:07
Unknown
If you go online for the Children Nature Network, they have great programs, they alliance has great information, as well as so many others of our local groups. But the parks are going to require us to get them outdoors.

00:33:54:15 - 00:34:17:17
Unknown
And that's that's why we have tried so hard to connect our children with nature, but also to remember we seasoned adults, which are me in the seventies, that we continue to need to be outdoors and need to be able to understand how important it is to get up off that sofa, put away that phone for a little

00:34:17:17 - 00:34:28:07
Unknown
while. Doesn't mean put it away completely. Just mean to put it away for a little while and be able to go out. And I think that's something that's going to be critical for the well-being of all of us.

00:34:28:20 - 00:34:48:08
Unknown
And it really is something that I think is critical for our future. Fran, looking forward, tell me about your your sense of the future. You're somebody I kind of sense that you're an optimist. You're somebody who, you know, you've led major organizations that have to do with protecting natural resources.

00:34:49:01 - 00:35:04:22
Unknown
What do you see looking forward? There are so many issues that are threatening and plaguing natural places, not just in the United States, but around the world. Do you think we'll turn that corner? Do you think humanity will will recognize that these are places that can disappear and will react in time?

00:35:05:05 - 00:35:20:21
Unknown
What do you see in the future? Well, again, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, it's happening already. We're starting to see it. That is why there is such a demand to go to our parks. People are realizing that that's a safe place for them to go.

00:35:20:22 - 00:35:35:09
Unknown
Yes, there might be animals that they don't always understand or it might be other things, but it's a safe place. What did we do during COVID? We were sitting outside having our meals. We were. We stayed in our neighborhoods and played.

00:35:35:21 - 00:35:51:09
Unknown
And so I think you're going to see we have a golden opportunity right now to get on board this trade trend that I think is going that's going to encourage us to further go outdoors. Now, are there challenges?

00:35:51:10 - 00:36:08:05
Unknown
Yes, but we have to continue to figure out ways. We have to use even our technology as a way to connect the young people with that outdoors. One of things I did while I was a director, I created the Junior Way, the Junior Ranger program.

00:36:08:22 - 00:36:23:06
Unknown
Excuse me, that junior the Webb Ranger program, when the Ranger program was where you go online and do everything online, and then you were supposed to go to the park to get your badge, you could get printed out, you know, online.

00:36:23:07 - 00:36:38:10
Unknown
But it was also where you could go to the park and get a badge. And so trying to use different techniques to guide people outdoors is going to be I think I'm very optimistic. I think that the the window is great right now.

00:36:38:10 - 00:36:53:12
Unknown
I, again, always look for that positive that comes out of a negative situation. And I think COVID has given us the positive realization for people that maybe didn't ever think about it that way before. And this is in urban settings more than anyplace else.

00:36:53:12 - 00:37:14:22
Unknown
I think that getting outdoors is important. And remember, you don't always have to go. To a national park. You know, there's butterfly gardens. There's other things that are art, that are in urban settings. And you also have the opportunity to link to your Dade County as great parks, Naples over here.

00:37:14:22 - 00:37:37:10
Unknown
Collier County, all the local parks are good. Your state parks, east coast of Florida. I mean, particularly going down to the Keys. Basically, they're all parks. And you're such a great opportunity to connect outdoors. And I think we've got a window of opportunity that I hope all of us will jump aboard that train to help us move

00:37:37:19 - 00:38:00:05
Unknown
all of us forward to be more healthy, happy and have a greater future. Fran, any any final thoughts? I just don't want to thank you again for having me on. But it's important to get out, use every type of media, of know social media, everything else to figure out how do we reach everyone.

00:38:00:22 - 00:38:20:13
Unknown
I even lead some trips for somebody company on this side of the state called Trendy Tours. Just because. I want to and it's only going to Everglades and you know a big cypress and couple that that to realize that you can get from Naples to big cypress in 45 minutes.

00:38:21:19 - 00:38:36:02
Unknown
You know, it's not that far because a lot of folks are saying, well, that's so far away or, you know, and the same thing on Miami side. You know, there's places to go. How do we get out into those parks or is there other transportation methods or what do we do?

00:38:36:15 - 00:38:52:01
Unknown
So I think we've got windows here and we need to take that little extra energy, particularly those of us that have the contacts or, you know, or wherewithal to find ways to get people out and do it. I agree, friend.

00:38:52:01 - 00:39:08:24
Unknown
I agree so much. Thank you for being on this podcast with me and for this wonderful conversation. And I'm also optimistic this episode of The Nature of Florida podcast was brought to you in part by the Everglades Foundation, the Fairburn Foundation, the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida and Expliquer Media.

00:39:09:03 - 00:39:21:18
Unknown
If you're enjoying this podcast, remember to subscribe on our website, The Nature of Florida with Oscar Corral, the Bus, Broadcom. That's the nature of Florida with Oscar Corral, Douglas, Broadcom. Or find us on your favorite platform and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.