By LINDA CHION KENNEY
Ready to enjoy the outdoors and give back to boot?
Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation is looking for volunteers to help out in a myriad of ways, including for its Adopt-a-Spot initiative, whose volunteers are managed by Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful in their work to help maintain parks and roadways.
A full listing of available opportunities is posted online for both recreation and Conservation and Environmental Lands Management roles.
For example, volunteer coaches are needed to help teach youth athletes skills specific to sports leagues based at recreation centers. Currently, at the Ruskin Recreational Center, that would entail Fall Youth Hockey for ages 9-11 (Saturdays, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.) and Fall Flag Football for ages 8-11 (Thursdays, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.). Programs are held also at the Gardenville Center in Gibsonton (Thursdays, 6:15 to 7:15 p.m.) and at recreation centers in Brandon, Northdale and the Roy Haynes Recreation Center in Tampa.
Meanwhile, docents, gardeners, ranger assistants, administrative assistants and interpretive program leaders and assistants are needed to volunteer for Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management.
Docents provide and give tours, lectures and general information to visitors at the county’s nature centers and museums, including Lettuce Lake Park, Upper Tampa Bay Park and Veteran’s Memorial Park and Rear Admiral Leroy Collins Jr. Museum in Tampa.
Ranger assistants help with repairs, painting, park beautification, canoe launching and park opening and closing duties. Administrative assistants aid with general office duties, including filing, volunteer coordination and answering phones. They also help to register patrons and collect funds for park services, including camping and canoeing.
Gardeners assist with maintaining landscapes and native gardens.
Overall, conservation volunteers aid with habitat restoration, trail blazing, removal of invasive species and site clean-ups. Park duties include park maintenance, beautification, interpretive programs and special projects. Recreation duties include working with children in out-of-school-time programs, teen programs, senior activities and programs for other designated populations, including toddlers.
Volunteers help also with special events, including coastal and river clean-ups, family fun days, bicycle and road races, scout projects and the annual Tampa Bay Active Life Games, formerly known as Tampa Bay Senior Games. For therapeutic recreation, volunteers assist at the Bakas Equestrian Center and with adaptive sports, out-of-school-time programs, Special Olympics and the Camp Sparks Summer program.
Volunteer applicants must be at least 16-years-old or be a member of an approved group, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or 4-H. Volunteers must provide their own transportation. Applications have been created for individuals and groups and for Eagle Scout projects. For more, call: 813-744-5594. Email: Volunteer@HCFLGov.net. Visit: www.HCFLGov.net and search for “Apply To Volunteer With Parks.”