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LIFE of Tampa welcomes everyone, of all races, ethnicities, religions, family compositions, sexual orientations, learning styles, lifestyles, abilities and disabilities, and asks only that rules of civility, kindness and compassion be honored by all, for all.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Florida State Parks to Celebrate Literacy in September

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Florida State Parks are celebrating the second annual Literacy Month this September at each of the state's 161 state parks. In conjunction with International Literacy Day on September 8 and National Library Card Signup Month, entrance to all of Florida 's state parks will be free the week of September 7-13 for visitors who bring a library card, library book, or who donate a new or gently used family book.

"Promoting literacy at Florida's state parks creates an appreciation for both reading and the environment that visitors can take back to the classroom and community, said Florida State Park Director Mike Bullock. "September's Literacy Month is the perfect time for all park visitors,
including families and schools to experience resource-based recreation while enhancing the mind through literacy events."

Florida's state parks, along with local libraries and schools, will host a variety of events during September including book readings, author appearances and book exchanges. Books donated during Literacy Month will go to schools and libraries in need or be used for permanent book exchanges within state park collections. The Florida Department of Education's (DOE)
Just Read, Florida ! program will also distribute lists of nature-themed reading materials to libraries and educators, and Literacy Month bookmarks will be distributed at libraries, bookstores and state parks through a partnership with the Florida Lottery.

"Literacy Month is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about Florida 's natural, cultural and literary resources," said Education Commissioner Dr.. Eric J. Smith. " Reading is the foundation for academic success and our partnerships will bring an increased focus to the importance
of literacy."

Partners in the Literacy Month celebration include the Florida Department of State, Florida Department of Education, the Florida Lottery, Volunteer USA Foundation, Florida Literacy Coalition, Adult and Community Educators of Florida, Inc., local libraries, schools and reading programs statewide. More than 1.3 million visitors participated in the September 2007
Literacy Month celebration, with nearly 35,000 people participating in 60 events statewide. State parks collected 10,000 books for donation and DEP and the Florida Lottery distributed 15,000 bookmarks to libraries and bookstores throughout the state.

The first two-time Gold Medal winner honoring the nation's best state park service, Florida 's state park system is one of the largest in the country with 161 parks spanning nearly 700,000 acres and 100 miles of sandy white beach. From swimming and diving in Florida's rivers and springs
to birding and fishing or hiking and riding on natural scenic trails, Florida's state parks offer year-around outdoor activities for all ages.

Battle re-enactments and Native American festivals celebrate Florida 's unique history, while art shows, museums and lighthouses offer a window into Florida 's cultural heritage. Florida 's state parks are also home to the 2008 Best Beach in the nation, Caladesi Island State Park , located off the coast of Southwest Florida in Pinellas County .

For more information about Florida State Parks' Literacy Month celebration and a list of events, visit <http://www.floridastateparks.org/> .

Marla Liane Chancey
Park Services Specialist
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd.
Homosassa, FL 34446
(352) 628-5343 X-1006

See the Real Florida at <http://www.floridastateparks.org/>