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FSP 50th Anniversary

28 December 2023 11:51 AM | Jim Richardson (Administrator)

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Friends of State Parks organization marked its 50th anniversary with a celebration at the Nature Research Center in Raleigh on November 18, 2023. A major highlight of the event was the presentation of North Carolina’s highest civilian award to longtime state parks supporter Jim Richardson.

Richardson, a board member for the past 25 years and a past president of the FSP, was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine as designated by Governor Roy Cooper. In his remarks, current board president Tim Aydlett lauded Richardson for his dedication to State Parks and his devotion to the citizens of North Carolina.

Also receiving awards at the gala were Colleen Bowers of Carvers Creek State Park, recognized as the Superintendent of the Year, Catherine Thompson-Ferreira of Mount Mitchell State Park, Office Assistant of the Year, Herbert Mathias of Merchants Millpond State Park, Maintenance Staff of the Year, and William Holman, nominated by Hammocks Beach State Park, Volunteer of the Year.ammocks Beach State Par Ha

The FSP Legislator of the Year Award was presented to Rep. Kyle Hall R-Forsyth, who represents District 91 in the North Carolina General Assembly. Rep. Hall, who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has been a strong advocate for parks funding and conservation initiatives, designating Dan River in Stokes County as an official state trail, supporting efforts to build canoe and kayak access, and supporting the expansion of Mayo River State Park by 1,000 acres. For his efforts, Rep. Hall has also been recognized by the NC Wildlife Federation as it 2023 Legislator of the Year.

President Aydlett shared the history and impact of the Friends of State Parks over its 50-yearhirtory, and Tom Earnhardt delivered the keynote address. Earnhardt, an attorney and documentary videographer, narrated the 2016 PBS production of “Saving the Best, 100 Years of State Parks.” In his remarks Earnhardt emphasized the need to regrow wild areas in North Carolina and praised the state parks system for its leadership in the effort.

The purpose of the North Carolina Friends of State Parks is “to serve the mission and needs of the North Carolina State Park system as an independent, nonprofit advocate, provide support at the local level through NCFSP chapters, and act as a source of park information and environmental education to the general public.”

“And we should add getting kids in our naturally wonderful parks is a priority of ours,” said Aydlett. “Our parks are a vital resource for all of our state’s citizens, and as we celebrate50 years of our organization, we know that the next 50 years will be even more impactful in protecting and sharing the natural beauty and blessings of our beloved state.” 

Friends of State Parks, Inc.

PO Box 182

Bethania, NC  27010

Friends of State Parks, Inc. is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax identification number 58-1634155) under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

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