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State Parks Director praises Wekiwa Springs' new Serenity Garden

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Chuck Hatcher, the Acting Director of the Florida State Parks, praised the Wekiwa Springs State Park for its innovative new addition called the Serenity Gardens. In the March newsletter for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Hatcher writes:

"I recently had the opportunity to participate in an amazing event at one of our parks. A few weeks ago, we held a ceremony at Wekiwa Springs State Park to celebrate the groundbreaking of the park’s new Serenity Garden.

The Serenity Garden will be a one-acre “park within a park” where people of all ages and abilities may experience and enjoy nature.

The garden was designed to align with principles established by the American Therapeutic Horticultural Association and will create accessible, nature-based experiences for seniors and for people with visual impairments; those who use mobility devices or who experience post-traumatic stress disorder; and people with autism, among others.

The Serenity Garden at Wekiwa Springs State Park.
The Serenity Garden at Wekiwa Springs State Park.

When construction is complete, it will be the first public park of its kind in the nation. We hope and believe that it won’t be the last.

We’re proud to be offering this new space that will allow even more people to experience the best of Florida’s natural world.

During the event, I was reminded of our amazing partnerships and how our surrounding communities contribute to our state parks.

This new Serenity Garden is the result of years of collaboration among the Florida Park Service, the Florida State Parks Foundation, the Wekiva Wilderness Trust, the American Therapeutic Horticultural Association, AdventHealth University’s Occupational Therapy Department, and many local and state leaders and elected officials.

This is just one example of how parks and partners work as a team to create meaningful experiences for our visitors. There are countless others across the state, and we are grateful for each partnership."

Hatcher became the acting Director of Florida State Parks in November 2021. He started at DEP in March 2016 as Assistant Director of Field Operations for the Division of Recreation and Parks. Previously, he served as Director of Parks and Recreation in Jackson County, where he received numerous awards including the Excellence in Leadership Award presented by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

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