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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Apr. 24, 201312:00 PM EST

Nonprofit CEO Showcase: Maria D. Mark

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Executive Director, Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation

Mission

To protect, preserve and promote the Timucuan Trail State and National Parks through advocacy, fundraising and marketing.

 

Serving Jacksonville

Established as a 501c3 in 1999 as the "Preservation Project Jacksonville." In 2010, the name was changed to the Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation and the mission, vision and goals were revamped. We are Jacksonville-based.

 

Those served

We serve primarily our entire community in Duval County.

 

Biggest challenge

Connecting our community members with their parks. It has been one of our best-kept secrets, yet one of our biggest community assets, which we are now working to "unlock."

 

Biggest satisfaction

Knowing the focus of our foundation in growing a community of park stewards will have long-term positive impacts on our community now and for future generations. It's also a privilege to carry on the visions of great past leaders like the late U.S. Rep. Charles Bennett, who established our National Parks, Fort Caroline National Memorial and the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve, and former Mayor John Delaney, whose vision was to create the biggest and best park system in the country. We have the biggest urban park system in the U.S. — now we're working to make it the best.

 

Hometown

Jacksonville is my home now and my "sense of place."

 

First experience with community service

In 2006, I was invited to a meeting to discuss organizing a small community event in one of our parks on the Intracoastal Waterway, Dutton Island. The purpose was to bring awareness to a parcel of land on the marsh that consisted of more than 300 acres of marshland and 7 acres of uplands zoned "residential-low density." There was a desire for the City of Atlantic Beach to purchase the land so it would not be developed and would become part of the City's incredible marsh parklands.

We had no idea how many people would come to this "small community event" — we were offering free kayak tours of the marsh property and some live music. More than 800 people showed up for the event. Since then, we've acquired that property and now hold "MarshFest" every other year. Its popularity continues to grow. This year, we're including a 5K fun run.

 

Your job before the Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation

Litigation paralegal for more than 25 years.

 

Upcoming events

We are planning a "friend-raising" event in the fall. Details to follow.

 

Contact information

www.TimucuanTrailParksFoundation.org

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