Friends of Fort Clinch (FOFC), a nonprofit Citizen Support Organization dedicated to supporting the Florida Parks’ mission of providing resource based recreation while preserving, interpreting, and restoring the natural and cultural resources of Fort Clinch State Park, on Saturday, April 22, teamed up with two of Nassau County’s largest employers, RYAM and WestRock, for a Family Fun Mill Day.
Employees and families from all three organizations spent the day at Fort Clinch participating in service projects, as well as nature activities and historical tours. The event raised over $28,000 to support the park, with RYAM and WestRock donating funds for beautification and improvements, matched by FOFC.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for employees and families from the two mills to come together and support the preservation of Fort Clinch State Park, ” said Stewart Pikula, President of FOFC’s Board of Directors. “We’re grateful to RYAM and WestRock for their generous donations and hard work in making this event a success. Park Manager, Heath Alboher had the original idea to bring the groups together 3 years ago, but Covid delayed having the work day. Looking back, Fort Clinch became a state park in 1937, just as both mills were beginning construction of their facilities. Over the last 86 years, all three have flourished and contributed significantly to our community. It was time to bring the three of us together. We all had a great time and look forward to making this an annual event.”
The service project included installing new fencing, landscaping improvements near the Museum and Visitor Center, replacing ground cover, a beach clean-up, maintenance tasks inside the fort including laying sod, painting and restoring period-authentic furnishings, and installation of new ADA-approved playground equipment.
Both mills are committed to supporting Florida’s natural spaces and heritage sites. RYAM is a leading global supplier of renewable and environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastics and fossil fuel-based products. WestRock is a leader in sustainable, fiber-based packaging solutions.
“Fort Clinch State Park holds important environmental conservation and historical value for Fernandina Beach and we are pleased to have partnered with Friends of Fort Clinch and WestRock to support preservation efforts for the fort and park,” said Mark Homans, Plant Manager at RYAM’s Fernandina Beach location. “When people are excited and willing to improve the park in a hands-on way, it really demonstrates the power of our community.”
Dan Rowland, General Manager of West Rock, added “our ~600 local employees live, work, volunteer, and play in our community. Mill Day is a great way for WestRock to support the community and have fun doing it”.
Fort Clinch enhances the lives of 400,000 visitors annually. To become a member or learn more about Friends of Fort Clinch’s ongoing conservation and support efforts, visit their website, FortClinch.org.
About Friends of Fort Clinch
The Friends of Fort Clinch, Inc. (FOFC) is a non-profit known as a Citizen Support Organization (CSO). Any and all money raised by FOFC goes directly to fund Fort Clinch State Park projects which would not be funded by the State of Florida. Through fundraising and grant acquisitions, the FOFC enables restoration projects at historic Fort Clinch, supports special events and educational programming, provides tools and equipment to assist park rangers, and expands and improves the park's renowned living history program. FOFC works closely with the local community and endeavors to be an integral part of Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach and Nassau County.