The Florida Park Service Ranger Association, formerly named the Florida Park Service Alumni Association, was organized in 1989. Retiring FPS employees did not want to lose touch with the Florida Park Service, 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. The Annual Gathering which is typically held the first weekend of April and in various locations around Florida. 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. 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.
At the Florida Park Service Alumni Association’s annual membership meeting on April 7, 2018 the membership voted to merge the Association and the Cook Fund into one organization and rename it the Florida Park Service Ranger Association. These changes had been considered for a couple of years and at the 2018 annual membership meeting the Board unanimously recommended the changes which was approved by the membership.
The organization change streamlines administrative functions and allows the Ranger Association to take full advantage of our 501(c)(3) status. The name change to the Florida Park Service Ranger Association is intended to be more appealing to those currently working (FTE, OPS, Volunteers) for the Florida Park Service. The Ranger Association’s goal is to increase engagement with present staff, so they feel more connected to the whole Florida Park Service family, both past and present.
The Ranger Association is focused on supporting and celebrating the staff of the Florida Park Service.