citurs county parks and rec outdoor expo

Citrus County Parks & Rec Outdoor Expo is a Hit!

By Max Schulman Posted on September 26, 2023

Citrus County’s Parks & Recreation Division hosted its 1st annual Parks and Recreation Outdoors Expo on Saturday, September 16th, at the Citrus Springs Community Center – and I was fortunate to be on the speakers list.

The goal of this event was to encourage the community to learn more about local parks and recreational opportunities in Citrus County.  The Citrus County Chronicle sponsored the event in partnership with the BOCC’s Parks & Recreation Division. Together with exhibitors, speakers, and participants (businesses, citizen support organizations, and governmental agencies who manage and support kayaking, birding,
wildlife, hiking, camping, and sports including hunting, fishing, ball sports, etc., and a full spectrum of hobbies) really “bumped the bar” on knowledge – and had fun doing it.

Exhibits included:

  • Adventure Center at Plantation Inn  
  • American Daughters of Conservation
  • Bare Naked Kayaks
  • Bob Oswald
  • Citrus County Amateur Radio Club
  • Citrus Educators Outdoors
  • Delta Waterfowl Foundation
  • Exploria Fishing and Social Club
  • Florida Forever Back Country Horsemen
  • Florida Friendly Landscaping
  • Florida Master Naturalist Program
  • Florida Native Plant Society – Citrus Chapter
  • Florida Trail Association – Suncoast Chapter
  • Florida Trappers Association
  • Friends of the Withlacoochee Trail Florida
  • Girl Scouts of West Central Florida  
  • Nature Coast Dragon Boat
  • “Not a Clue” Adventures
  • The Old Courthouse Heritage Museum  
  • Tread Lightly  
  • Twisted Oaks Golf Club US Military Tribute Bikes
  •  Village Powersports Resources
  • Citrus County Mosquito Control
  • Citrus County Supervisor of Elections
  • Citrus County Visitors Bureau
  • Citrus County Department of Water Resources
  • Crystal River State Park
  • Florida Conservation Corps
  • Florida Forest Service
  • Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
  • Fort Cooper State Park
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
  • Florida Youth Conservation Center Network

Speakers Included:

1. Jim Davis – Sumter and Hernando Counties’ UF/IFA’S Extension Director.

He presented an amazing journey through the lens, complete with tactics and techniques for capturing amazing shots of West Central Florida’s rich bird population.

2. Athena Philips – from the Florida Native Plant Society Citrus Chapter.

Athena took on “new way to discover the outdoors” with an explanation of “what being a citizen scientist means.”  She brought us to school on biology, entomology, and the phone-based software that makes participating in the citizen science movement fairly easy.  This presentation was very well received.

3. Mike Walker – former MLB player and current Director of Parks and Community Services in Lake County. 

Mike presented an informal talk that felt like stepping into a newsroom when a star was being interviewed.  He shared a few memories and special moments from his early years playing baseball, to his current position with the City of Groveland. It was a fun talk from a humble professional athlete.

4. That Max Schulman guy (Okay… ME!) – Award-winning author and outdoor enthusiast

I talked about discovering the amazing outdoor hiking, paddling, birding, and kayak fishing trails of Citrus County and writing about them in the “Treasures of the Trails/Citrus County ‘Trailogy.”  I also talked about what actions individuals must take to save the trails, springs, flora, fauna, and human pace that provide the quality of life most of us enjoy on the Nature Coast.

5. Don Cox is a Certified Master “Tread Lightly!” Instructor, Trainer, and Coordinator for the 17,000+ member “Florida Trail Stompers” Off-Road Club.

He also serves as a Trail Boss for The Florida Trail Stompers and has logged thousands of hours leading FTS groups through the swamps, forests, and prairies of Florida. His real-world experience and his position as a passionate protector of the trails resonated with everyone present.

6. Lt’s Jacobs and (Elizabeth) Brown – Law Enforcement Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

This duo tied their career histories with the real working conditions found in the fields and forest of Citrus and Western Marion Counties.  After a lively review of important current rules and regulations governing various recreational outdoor activities and locations, many questions were asked and answered. (These two should have a channel on a major outdoor streaming service!)

7.  Alice Mary Herden – Recreation Program Specialist, along with Citrus County Parks and Recreation Staff members.

They presented a rundown of ongoing Citrus County Parks & Recreation programs and outlined upcoming events and programs planned for 2024.

2023 Citrus County Parks & Rec Outdoor Expo is a Hit!

When I asked Alice Mary how she thought today’s program went – and what to expect for Citrus County’s Parks and Rec’s Expo ’24, she quickly answered, “This was a huge success, and we are thrilled to have had such a great turnout. The exhibitors and speakers provided valuable information to the community about a wide range of outdoor recreational activities suitable for people of all ages and interests.

As for next year, “We are glad to tell you that planning for next year’s Outdoors Expo has begun, and we are determined to offer the community an even more diverse range of recreational exhibitors.”   

The whole team was very upbeat. Alice closed out the day’s activities on a high note.  Things are looking bright for the coming fiscal year!

For more information on Citrus County Parks and Recreation opportunities, please contact Ms. Herden at (352) 527-7540 or by email



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