FOSCP Volunteers Land 3 of last 5 FRPA Volunteer Service Individual Awards

The Florida Recreation and Parks Association recognizes one individual each year within the state with the FRPA Volunteer Services Individual Award. Friends of Sarasota County Parks volunteers have been chosen for this award 3 out of the last 5 years. A remarkable achievement for FOSCP.

Sarasota County is home to a wealth of natural treasures, parks, and recreational spaces that enrich the lives of its residents and visitors. At the heart of the community’s success in maintaining and enhancing these assets is the dedication of volunteers. This is the third time in five years that an individual associated with the Friends of Sarasota County Parks has earned the FRPA Voluntary Service Individual Award, “demonstrating the commitment community members have toward keeping Sarasota County’s parks and natural areas beautiful,” the release adds.

Over the last five years, the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Department has proudly honored the exceptional contributions of Friends of Sarasota County Parks board members Fred and Grace Whitehouse, Russ Johnson, and Terry Redman, recognizing their outstanding service through the prestigious volunteer awards.

FOSCP Volunteers Land 3 of last 5 FRPA Volunteer Service Individual Awards

Fred and Grace Whitehouse: Champions of Environmental Conservation- 2019

Fred and Grace Whitehouse stand out as champions of environmental conservation, earning them well-deserved recognition from the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Department. “This prestigious award recognizes the Whitehouses for their exemplary volunteer service” to parks and recreation. Over nine years, the Whitehouses have expanded the Phillippi Farmhouse Market from 19 vendors to more than 50 and coordinated with nonprofit organizations such as the Suncoast Blood Bank and the Humane Society of Sarasota County “to have a presence at the market,” Moreover, under their advocacy, the market has contributed more than $192,000 toward renovations of the historic Keith Farmhouse, the release points out.

“We are so proud of the volunteer service that Fred and Grace Whitehouse provide to the community,” said Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler in the release. “Their work over the last nine years has been both humbling and inspiring. Fred and Grace are truly deserving of this service award.”

“Grace also spends time working with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to promote park systems and provide analytic support to the foundation’s Giving Partners program, which provides funding for parks projects and other community programs,” the release notes. Additionally, Grace manages the Siesta Key Memorial Paver program and is the treasurer of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks organization.

Fred also manages the Venice North Jetty Memorial Fish program, the release says.

FOSCP Volunteers Land 3 of last 5 FRPA Volunteer Service Individual Awards

Russ Johnson: Building Community Connections Through Recreation- 2022

Russ Johnson is celebrated for his exceptional efforts in building community connections through recreational programs and events. His innovative and inclusive approach to organizing activities has enhanced the recreational experiences of countless individuals. Whether it’s coordinating community events, or spearheading volunteer projects, Johnson’s dedication has created a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere within Sarasota County parks. Volunteer Russ Johnson received a standing ovation from the more than 900 people in the auditorium of the Caribe Royale Convention Center at the annual Florida Recreation and Park Association Conference in Orlando, encouraging residents of all ages to engage in healthy and enjoyable recreational pursuits. In the program, Russ was described as a “Super Volunteer.” The Individual Service Award Russ received reflected his leadership as a “super volunteer” for 20 years. It recognized his work at the T. Mabry Carlton Reserve and Knights Trail Park Gun Range. In Venice, Johnson and Terry Redman are at the gun range every morning at 4 a.m. to collect casings, turn them in and donate the profits. Russ was instrumental in having Venice designated as a bike friendly community.  He helped design and build the following: Caspersen Beach Park, Venetian Waterway Park, Skip Stasko Park, the parking under the Venice Avenue Bridge, Patriots Park, improvements at Shamrock Park and more. Russ allows his house to be on the Venice Garden Club’s tour and acted as a volunteer judge at a high school’s science fair. He has designed both school and community gardens, the butterfly garden at the Venice YMCA and other community landscaping projects. One great challenge was building a school garden on top of an asphalt basketball court!

FOSCP Volunteers Land 3 of last 5 FRPA Volunteer Service Individual Awards

Terry Redman: A Visionary Leader in Natural Resources Management- 2023

Terry Redman is recognized as a visionary leader in natural resources management, contributing significantly to the sustainable development of Sarasota County parks. His expertise in landscape architecture and environmental planning has played a crucial role in designing and implementing projects that balance conservation with public enjoyment. Redman’s forward-thinking approach ensures that the county’s natural resources are preserved for future generations while providing recreational opportunities that align with the community’s evolving needs.

The FRPA Voluntary Service Individual Award was presented to PRNR volunteer Terry Redman, who has contributed more than 25 years of volunteer services with Friends of Sarasota County Parks, the Knight Trail Park and Outdoor Shooting Complex, the Sarasota County Parks Advisory and Recreation Council, the county’s University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and Sustainability (UF/IFAS) Florida Master Gardeners program, and other community organizations, including the Sertoma Club of Venice.

“Terry is a shining example of a passionate, dedicated volunteer who has contributed so much to our parks system,” Nicole Rissler, the PRNR director, said in the release. “We are very fortunate to have volunteers like him in our community.”

Redman has been a leader of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks (FOSCP) since its establishment in 2002; he was the organization’s president for more than 16 years and is serving as its secretary, the releases points out. Over the past 10 years, “FOSCP has provided nearly 32,000 volunteer hours supporting county park projects and thousands of dollars in park enhancements and amenities,” the release notes.

“It’s a great honor to have been selected as the FRPA Volunteer of the Year Award recipient,” said Redman in the release. “A large thank you to the dedicated Sarasota County parks staff and the other community volunteers for making this award possible.

The volunteer award winners—Fred and Grace Whitehouse, Russ Johnson, and Terry Redman—exemplify the spirit of community engagement and service that makes Sarasota County parks thrive. Their dedication to environmental conservation, community connections, and natural resources management has significantly enriched the quality of life for Sarasota residents and visitors alike. As we celebrate their achievements, let us be inspired to follow in their footsteps, recognizing the impact that dedicated individuals can have in preserving and enhancing the beauty of our public spaces. The Sarasota County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Department extend heartfelt gratitude to these outstanding volunteers, acknowledging their invaluable contributions to the community.