Friends of Osprey Junction Trailhead (FOJT) is a volunteer organization that supports, promotes and enhances Osprey Junction Trailhead, a Sarasota County park adjacent to The Legacy Trail. FOJT is a Chapter of Friends of Sarasota County Parks, a 501c3 non-profit organization.
- Partner with Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources to assist in the development, operation, maintenance and improvement of Osprey Junction Trailhead.
- Support the development and operation of a Visitor Center which will provide increased opportunities for the public to enjoy the park.
- Implement programs, projects and events that encourage enjoyable visitor experiences and increase public use of the park.
- Commit to diversity, equity and inclusion as key elements in all FOJT activities so all perspectives, voices and people are recognized and considered.
- Use, showcase and educate the public about Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principles and Sarasota County sustainability programs.
- Partner with organizations supportive of FOJT to achieve mutually beneficial goals.
- Promote The Legacy Trail, a Sarasota County park, by providing services, information and accessible facilities to enhance public use of the Trail.
- Recruit and retain volunteers and reward those who make notable contributions to FOJT goals.
- Raise funds with grants, sponsorship programs, activities and donations to achieve FOJT goals.
Friends of Osprey Junction Trailhead (FOJT) was created May 17, 2018 by Chuck Butterfield, Mark Malkasian and Dave Zimmerman who had been doing volunteer work at Osprey Junction Trailhead Park. A mission statement and goals were developed, a partnership with Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources was established, a Leadership Team organization concept was adopted, a fundraising plan was implemented and volunteer recruiting activities were initiated.
A partnership was developed with the Sarasota County Master Gardener Organization and Osprey Junction Trailhead Park was approved as a Master Gardener work location by UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County May 30, 2018. This partnership increased our ability to recruit volunteers, provided expertise in Florida-Friendly Landscape Principles and enhanced our educational opportunities for the public.
FOJT was approved as a Chapter of Friends of Sarasota County Parks (FOSCP) December 20, 2018. FOSCP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation registered in the State of Florida. Becoming a Chapter of FOSCP significantly improved our ability to do fundraising activities plus FOSCP provides a variety of administrative services to Chapters.
FOJT changed from a Leadership Team organization to a more formalized Board of Directors organization with Standing Committees September 1, 2020. This organization change clarified responsibilities for our programs, projects and events, enhanced our ability to seek grants and increased volunteer opportunities.
Chuck Butterfield – President
Beverly Bowen – Vice President/Butterfly Garden
Meg Larrabee – Master Gardeners Liaison/Wildflower Garden
Mark Malkasian – Visitor Services/Sustainability Program
Dave Zimmerman – Facilities Projects/Commemorative Brick Program
Ben Nussbaum – County Parks Staff Advisor
The FOJT Board President may establish standing or temporary committees. The President shall appoint chairpersons and provide direction to committees. Chairpersons of standing committees are preferred but not required to be Board members. Chairpersons shall recruit committee members as needed, make recommendations for Board approval and report committee activities to the Board. Committees may use contractor services when necessary, following the FOJT Financial Approval Policy.
Art in the Park Program Committee
Responsibilities: develop and implement programs, projects, classes and events that promote visual arts to the public; manage art exhibits in the Visitor Center; develop and maintain partnerships with local arts organizations; host artist events on the park grounds; manage responsibilities with Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) direction and approval; appropriate volunteers on this committee must be approved for the PRNR Visitor Services job
Butterfly Garden Committee – Beverly Bowen Chairperson
Responsibilities: plan, install and maintain butterfly garden; provide educational signage at the garden; maintain butterfly life cycle display; conduct butterfly education classes in the Visitor Center; produce butterfly education videos for posting on social media; develop educational materials; manage responsibilities with Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) direction and approval; volunteers on this committee must be approved for the PRNR Grounds Steward job or be a Master Gardener
Facilities Committee – Dave Zimmerman Chairperson
Responsibilities: repair, maintain and improve the Visitor Center, barn and furnishings in the buildings, park infrastructure and facilities on the park grounds; maintain appropriate inventory of tools; implement energy/water conservation projects and promote sustainability programs; manage responsibilities with Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) direction and approval; volunteers on this committee must be approved for the PRNR Facility Maintenance Assistant job
Responsibilities: seek grants; develop sponsorship and donation programs; maintain relationships with community foundations and other key organizations; conduct fundraising events; manage the Engraved Brick Program; follow fundraising guidelines in the Friends of Sarasota County Parks operating agreement with Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR); follow FOJT Financial Approval Policy
Gardening and Landscape Committee
Responsibilities: coordinate the work of volunteers assigned responsibility for the rain, bird and wildflower demonstration gardens to assure appropriate planning, installation and maintenance of the gardens; plan and implement landscape improvement projects throughout the park to include coordinating and supervising volunteer work; plan and coordinate educational opportunities for the public to be conducted in the Visitor Center and on the park grounds and the development of educational materials by enlisting volunteers and County Parks staff with special knowledge and experience; manage responsibilities with Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) direction and approval; volunteers on this committee must be a Master Gardener or be approved for the PRNR Grounds Steward job.
Music in the Park Program Committee
Responsibilities: schedule and coordinate music events in the Visitor Center and on the park grounds; develop partnerships with music clubs, music groups, individual musicians and schools with music programs that will provide a variety of music for the public to enjoy; develop plans to conduct music activities such as education classes, lectures, workshops and demonstrations by musicians in the Visitor Center that may include revenue generating opportunities for musicians from fees donations and honorariums; utilize Visitor Services volunteers when necessary; manage responsibilities with Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) direction and approval
Public Relations Committee
Responsibilities: provide news releases, video services, webinars and promotion materials for the organization; maintain a website; publish a newsletter; assure presence on social media; assure compliance with Friends of Sarasota County Parks and Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources policies and procedures
Sustainability Committee – Mark Malkasian Chairperson
Responsibilities: use, showcase and educate the public about Sarasota County sustainability programs by utilizing the facilities at the park and the park grounds; areas of focus include use energy efficiently and seek renewable energy, conserve and prevent pollution of water resources, reduce, reuse and recycle, encourage smart transportation and support green design and construction; manage responsibilities with Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources direction and approval.
Visitor Services Committee – Mark Malkasian Chairperson
Responsibilities: determine operating hours of the Visitor Center; train, schedule and supervise Visitor Services volunteers; maintain a visitor services volunteer handbook; manage logo merchandise sales program; maintain supply of handout materials; assist with art exhibits, classes, events and special projects; maintain an events schedule; manage responsibilities with Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) direction and approval; volunteers on this committee must be approved for the PRNR Visitor Services job
Volunteer Program Committee
Responsibilities: recruit volunteers based on the needs of the organization; develop volunteer recognition programs and conduct volunteer recognition events; maintain a working relationship with the volunteer coordinators with Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) and the Master Gardener Organization and follow their guidelines; request new or update existing PRNR volunteer job descriptions assigned to the park; report “organizational” volunteer time to PRNR; maintain a volunteer database; monitor volunteer time and update the Volunteer Wall of Fame display in the Visitor Center
The 10-acre park property was purchased by the County in 2008. Three structures were on the SW corner of the property – a house with attached garage, barn and greenhouse. Woods, open areas and two ponds were on the remaining land.
A concept plan for the park was developed in 2010 by Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources which included the house designated as a proposed “Visitor Center” to be open to the public at some future date when funding for development became available. Various uses of the “Visitor Center” would be determined by public input.
The park was named Osprey Junction Trailhead and officially opened in 2013 with a fenced vehicle parking area of grass, picnic tables, bicycle racks, shade structure, water fountain and information kiosk, all at the East end of the park near The Legacy Trail. Public access was not allowed to the house, barn and greenhouse.
In May 2018 three volunteers that worked at the park for several years organized Friends of Osprey Junction Trailhead (FOJT) with a mission to support, promote and enhance the park. One of the FOJT goals is to support the development and operation of a Visitor Center.
FOJT developed a plan to convert the house into a Visitor Center and Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources approved the plan which included FOJT volunteer work and fundraising activities. The goal is to open the Visitor Center to the public in December 2022.
FOJT also developed a Use of Facilities Plan for the Visitor Center and surrounding grounds. The overall goal is to provide a variety of opportunities for the public to enjoy the Park and to increase public use of the Park.
The Visitor Center includes public use areas for family parties, meetings, school trips, clubs and organizations; education classes; displays and materials; art exhibits and rest breaks from using The Legacy Trail. Volunteers will provide visitor services. The Visitor Center also includes office space for Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources staff and a FOJT volunteer meeting room with storage area.
The grounds around the Visitor Center will be used to showcase and educate the public about Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principles; showcase demonstration gardens; host plein air painting events; conduct bicycle safety events and provide rest and picnic areas.
One of our Mission Statement Goals is “Commit to diversity, equity and inclusion as key elements in all FOJT activities so all perspectives, voices and people are recognized and considered.”
The purpose of our Diversity Initiative is to increase the diversity of participants in our programs, projects and events, increase the diversity of our volunteer organization and increase the diversity of people visiting Osprey Junction Trailhead Park.
Our Diversity Initiative will focus on people who have been underrepresented and underserved, including people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, and low-income people.
Diversity Initiative Action Plan
- Implement specific programs, projects and events in each of our five areas of operation that will support our Diversity Initiative. The five areas of operation, each managed by a Board member, are Art in the Park, Biking, Gardening, Music in the Park and Sustainability.
- Develop and expand partnerships with organizations that will provide advice, assistance and support for our Diversity Initiative such as UnidosNow, CreArte Latino, Booker Middle and High Schools, Suncoast Black Arts Collaboration, Sarasota African American Cultural Council, Easter Seals of SW Florida, Boys and Girls Clubs, ALSOYouth, Embracing Our Differences, YMCA of SW Florida, Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center, Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton and Laurel Civic Agency.
- Add Board members recommended by our partnership organizations that will help us manage our Diversity Initiative and foster an inclusive culture in our organization.
- Manage our volunteer program so it ensures opportunities for a diversity of individuals that are respected, engaged, motivated and valued.
- Intentionally seek businesses with diverse management to provide services, supplies and equipment for our operations.
- Apply for grants from foundations and request money and in-kind donations from organizations and individuals to fund our Diversity Initiative.