Volunteer News

$1 Million Bequest Will Boost Birding in Florida’s State Parks  

The Florida State Parks Foundation has received a $1 million bequest from a former Indialantic resident who was both a passionate birder and long-term Florida State Park volunteer. 

Bonnie Lizer who died last year generously left one quarter of her estate to the Foundation, said Foundation President Gil Ziffer. “In order to ensure that Bonnie’s name and generosity are remembered, a special birding program – the Bonnie Lizer Endowment – has been established in her memory,” he said. 

The first project as part of that program, is the installation of a series of interpretive panels at Sebastian Inlet State Park to assist visitors in identifying common migratory and resident bird species.  Visitors will learn about bird migratory patterns, feeding and nesting requirements, habitat and life cycle.  

Visitors will also be informed about ways they can minimize impacts to birds and their habitat and the panels will feature tactile and interactive elements for visitors of all ages.  Visitors will also learn about the park’s estuary ecosystem and its importance to a variety of bird species.  

The interpretive panels will include QR codes that will link visitors to additional information that can be viewed while in the park or once the visitor returns home.  The panels are being installed in an area already frequented by visitors along a walking path next to the Sebastian Inlet.  This path links both visitors and campers to the Sebastian Fishing Museum and beach access point on the south side of the park.  Additional signs will be installed on the north side of the park near the beach access and north jetty.  

“As Bonnie’s two favorite state parks were Sebastian Inlet and the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park and her favorite pastime was birding, this project is very appropriate and, hopefully, will inspire many more people to take a greater interest in our feathered friends,” said Ziffer.

Bonnie and her late husband Robert moved to Florida from Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1989. Robert volunteered at Sebastian Inlet and Bonnie was a volunteer at the park’s McLarty Treasure Museum. They were both lifelong birders and traveled the nation in their RV pursuing their pastime.

The Foundation, founded in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks and renamed in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support and help sustain the Florida Park Service, its 175 award-winning parks and trails, local Friends groups and more than 20,000 park volunteers.  

It does this through programs that preserve and protect state parks, educate visitors about the value of state parks, encourage community engagement and active use of state parks, and advocacy. 

The volunteer Board of Directors represent private and public sectors as well as local and statewide interests.