Raise your hand if you LOVE our Georgia State Parks. Me! Me! Me! And I bet you do, too!
Preserving and maintaining them are so important…but it can’t be done alone. It takes a great group of friends:
Friend of Georgia State Parks..and you.
Your membership, gift membership, donations and volunteer efforts allow Friends of Georgia State Parks to support our park system and historical sites.
You. You make this magic happen. Here are 11 things you probably didn’t know about Friends of Georgia State Parks…about why their efforts are so important…including a coupon code for 365 readers.
These Best Friends Are Not Related
Friends of Georgia State Parks is an organization independent of the Georgia State Parks system. Friends receives no federal or state funding and no grants like the State Parks or Department of Natural Resources, and they are not a government body.
Friends offers partnership and support to the park system. Their mission is to promote and preserve Georgia State Parks, raising awareness of the value that our state parks provide to the community- both economically and inherently.
Georgia’s Great Places Magazine
Friends publishes a magazine, Georgia’s Great Places, twice per year. It’s available to members, but you can also pick up a free copy at a state park, historic site or visitor center.
I read this magazine from cover to cover every issue. The Fall/Winter edition this year had an awesome piece about helping connect kids with nature, a guide to birding in the state and a wonderful backstory on Camp Lawton which we really enjoyed when visiting Magnolia Springs last year.
State and Local Park Assistance
Friends works on statewide projects but is also the umbrella organization for 56 chapters around the state. These chapter organizations are based at specific state parks, and they support projects and raise funds just for that park.
For example, volunteers at Cloudland Canyon State Park are in the process of building new connector trails in the park. The local Friends chapter at Unicoi helped raise funds for a new rescue vehicle (a necessity, I would say, having been rescued from a mountain top due to a broken leg!) and eight new peddle boats for the gorgeous lake at this Helen-based state park.
If there is a particular park that you love, why not consider joining the Friends chapter? Select the park you are interested in helping, then click the Donate button or complete the green form at the bottom of the page to join a Chapter mailing list and learn about upcoming volunteer efforts.
$1.9 Million in Volunteer Hours
In just one year, volunteers have given more than 83,000 hours of their time to help Georgia State Parks…that is valued at $1.9 million!
Want to be a part of the volunteer efforts? You can click here to visit the park you are interested in helping, then sign up to receive notifications about volunteer opportunities.
Friends Leads An Effort To Get Kids Outside
Most recently, Friends led a state-wide project called Dig In! The purpose is to build outdoor classrooms that allow kids to reconnect with nature. The pilot locations are at Red Top Mountain, Don Carter and Panola Mountain State Parks- parks that are near cities with high urbanization. They are designed to foster free-play for both groups of children and individuals, and they feature stations for climbing, building, art, music, movement, dirt digging and getting messy.
Friends is putting the finishing touches on the project at Red Top Mountain, so be sure to add that to your bucket list!
Friends Receives No Tax Funding
Think about what we discussed so far…outdoor classrooms, new trails in the parks, removal of overgrown vegetation. Those efforts are not managed by the state park system and your tax dollars…they happen because of your membership with Friends and your volunteer efforts. Friends is a 501c3 non-profit charity that relies 100% on members and donors; they receive no state funds and no tax funds and no grant money.
Here’s what I love…90 cents of every dollar contributed goes to their programs and services. That’s incredible! Those services include programming and volunteer support, education and outreach.
Just Like a Georgia State Annual Pass…Only Better
Already considering an Annual Pass with Georgia State Parks? Not a problem! For only a small amount more you can add to those benefits by selecting the Friends of Georgia State Parks Membership. It includes more perks than your regular state park pass, but doesn’t take anything from them (It only helps!)
In addition to your GSP parking pass, you’ll receive 25% off admission to Historic Sites, 10% retail discounts, 10% off overnight stays, free golf or overnight camping, discounts on the SAM Shortline and a subscription to Georgia’s Great Places. And guess what! All of that starts at only $5 more than your GSP annual pass.
The Gift That Keeps Giving
Did you know that you can give a Friends membership as a gift? It comes in a beautiful gift certificate sleeve, and it is the perfect gift. If you want to make a purchase of five more, you can even receive a bulk discount.
Friends Helped Build 50+ Pollinator Gardens
The state-wide Butterfly Build project added new pollinator gardens to more than 50 state parks and historic sites. Want to do this in your own backyard with the kids? Follow steps on the Friends website to bring the benefits to your own garden.
Georgia State Parks Day Brings Parks Alive For Everyone
Your State Parks Day is Georgia’s annual celebration of National Public Lands Day- the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for America’s public lands. Volunteers enjoy free park admission, as well as dozens of family-friendly activities throughout the day such as kayaking, tree climbing, archery and more.
Also exciting on this day is the opportunity for families to help with volunteer projects like building pollinator gardens, planting native wildflowers, cleaning up campgrounds and much more. Once you see the difference you can make, feel the comradery with other nature-lovers and sense the importance of a single project, you’ll want to participate throughout the year as well!
Make A Difference…And Save
My family and I are committed to Friends of Georgia State Parks. Georgia’s state parks are where my children have fun, learn, grow and connect with nature. We want you to be a part of that community…to support the efforts being made and the intrinsic value of these sacred lands. We are happy to share that Friends is offering a 10% discount to 365 Atlanta Family readers by using the discount code 365ATLANTA. That means that your Individual Friends Membership is is less than an Annual Park Pass!
Remember, your membership (plus donations and volunteer work) support Friends’ Outdoor Discovery and Environmental Education, Volunteers at Every Park, Access for All, Preservation & Enhancement and the Celebration of History and Culture in the Georgia State Park System.
Disclosure: We are honored that Friends of Georgia State Parks sponsored this opportunity to bring you fun facts about their organization. We love Friends with all our hearts and sincerely believe in who they are, what they do and how they do it! We appreciate the partnership, but the honor is ours, for sure.