About Us

Mission

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.

Goals

  1. Partner with Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources to assist in the development, operation, maintenance and improvement of Osprey Junction Trailhead.
  2. Support the development and operation of a Visitor Center which will provide increased opportunities for the public to enjoy the park.
  3. Implement programs, projects and events that encourage enjoyable visitor experiences and increase public use of the park.
  4. Use, showcase and educate the public about Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principles and Sarasota County sustainability programs.
  5. Partner with organizations interested in supporting Osprey Junction Trailhead to achieve mutually beneficial goals.
  6. Promote The Legacy Trail, a Sarasota County Park, by providing facilities, services and information to enhance public use of the Trail.
  7. Recruit, retain and reward volunteers to achieve FOJT goals.
  8. Raise funds with grants, sponsorship programs, donations and events 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)

Veronica Battles (Engraved Brick Fundraising Program Administrator)

Beverly Bowen (Butterfly Garden Committee Chairperson)

Pam Callender (Art in the Park Program Committee Chairperson)        

Elena Foster (Gardening and Landscape Committee Chairperson)        

Meg Larrabee (Master Gardeners Liaison)      

Mark Malkasian (Visitor Services Committee Chairperson)

Ralph Monti (Bicycle Program Committee Chairperson)  

Sam Wright (County Parks Staff Advisor)

Dave Zimmerman (Facilities Committee Chairperson)

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 – Pamela Callender Chairperson

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 

Bicycle Program Committee – Ralph Monti Chairperson

This committee shall be responsible for developing and implementing bicycle-related programs, that promote safe and inclusive bicycling geared to people of all ages, ethnicities, and physical abilities. The committee shall work and partner with local, state, and national bicycle advocacy organizations, bicycle clubs, bicycle shops, and local and County Sheriff’s offices, to create bicycle programs, events, projects, etc., that promote bicycle safety and recreational bicycling. The committee will also oversee all aspects of the Pedicab Ride Program. Pedicab Pedalers and volunteers serving in any bicycle-related Visitor Services position must be approved by Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR). All committee responsibilities will be managed with appropriate direction and approval from PRNR.

Butterfly Garden Committee – Beverly Bowen Chairperson

Responsibilities: plan, install and maintain butterfly garden; provide educational signage at the garden; maintain butterfly life cycle display at Greenhouse Operations and Learning Center; 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 greenhouse buildings, 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  

Fundraising Committee

Responsibilities: manage the Engraved Brick Program; seek grants; develop sponsorship and donation programs; conduct fundraising events; maintain relationships with community foundations and other key organizations; 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 – Elena Foster Chairperson

Responsibilities: plan, install and maintain rain, bird and wildflower demonstration gardens; plan and implement landscape improvement projects;  provide educational opportunities for the public such as classes in the Visitor Center and tours on the park grounds; develop educational materials; 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

Gardening Activities & Learning Center Committee

Responsibilities: develop, operate and maintain the greenhouse facilities; grow plants/trees for use in the park and for sale to the public; plan and implement plant sales events for fundraising; provide educational opportunities for the public; 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  

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

Tree Arboretum Committee – Alice White Chairperson  

Responsibilities: plan, install and maintain a tree arboretum; provide educational opportunities for the public such as signage, tours on the park grounds, classes in the Visitor Center and handout materials; maintain a partnership with People for Trees, Inc., a local non-profit organization with a mission to create awareness about the importance of protecting and maintaining our native tree canopy; 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

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 early 2021.  

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 and a greenhouse; host plein air painting events; conduct bicycle safety events and provide rest and picnic areas.

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