Vendors and visitors were excited to be at the Cedar Key Seafood Festival.
It was good to be back at the city park talking to visitors about the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges. For Friends, the reason to have a booth at a festival is not raising money – although that is important – but it is learning all the reasons people like the refuges. The Friends volunteers in the booth struck up conversations on hunting, fishing, kayaking, butterfly watching, hiking, driving tours and bats. There was a lot of interest in bats. Our bat earrings, bat brochures and upcoming Halloween probably spurred the topic.
Both days of the event were crowded with visitors from outside the area who kept our booth volunteers busy. We sold all the remaining owl and eagle t-shirts for which Friends member Ann Kamzelkski had provided the art and many of the new butterfly t-shirts for which Friends member Barbara Woodmansee provide the art. Overall sales were in-line with past festivals.
Ron’s career started in the Navy right out of high school. Next stop was college, graduating in natural resources. First job out of college in 1964 was with the U.S. Forest Service. He spent 30 years in government service before retiring and moving with his wife, Christine, to Cedar Key.
Apparently, retirement wasn’t for him. As a Friends volunteer, he agreed to a 10-year commitment in 2009 to undertake the maintenance of the Refuge’s Shell Mound archaeology and recreational site which was not staffed at the time.
His responsibilities at Shell Mound varied from maintaining trails, trimming vegetation, and facilities management, to giving impromptu guided tours to visitors of the archaeological site when his maintenance schedule allowed. He and other Friends’ volunteers worked with UF Archaeologist Ken Sassaman providing input as it related to the culture and history of the people who constructed Shell Mound.
Andrew Gude related that, “Ron will be sorely missed. He was a highly dedicated staff member who always interacted with the public, guiding them around the Shell Mound area and interpreting the history of the unit. We wish Ron the best in his full retirement (it might be his third).”
“What a gift Ron has been to the Refuges," said Friends' president Peg Hall. "He has provided thirteen years of dedicated service, personal friendship, and protection of the area's precious natural resources. He’s irreplaceable and we’re so grateful.”