State Parks Director Joe Elton often talks about the people behind the state parks movement in general and Virginia State Parks in particular. There is one photo between Governor Trinkle and R.E. Burson (who will become the first Virginia State Parks Director) where they stand on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay that Joe calls "Dream Big." Similarly, a group of forty-five citizen park leaders from all over Virginia, park officials representing state and national parks, and individuals from key regional and national agencies and organizations must have been dreaming big when they met in November 1997 and gave birth to what is now the Virginia Association for Parks (VAFP). The VAFP serves as an umbrella organization for support organizations for public lands in Virginia but by far the most active members at State Parks Friends groups.
VAFP members from across the state gathered to celebrate their 15th year anniversary at James River State Park Sept. 12-15. The organization holds two conferences annually, one in the spring and one in the fall. Conferences include tours of the host park or parks in the area as well as a business meeting. Most of the real business is the opportunity for Friends members from around the state to gather and discuss issues and ideas.
This meeting was a day longer than the usual two day meeting. Attendees gathered Wednesday evening for a social. Thursday was an ambitious day that started with a visit to the Sailor's Creek Battlefield Historical State Park for lunch and a tour of their Visitor Center and the Hillsman House.
VAFP members enjoy High Bridge
At the Hillsman House, Sailor's Creek Battlefield Historical State Park
Friday the group visited the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox and spent the afternoon enjoying recreational opportunities at James River State Park. That evening we recognized the contributions of volunteers involved in the VAFP over the years.
The group is putting the finishing touches on a publication that will highlight their fifteen years of support for parks in Virginia.
Singing around the campfire
Be sure to check out other pictures from the conference by clicking here.
Any individual or group may join the Virginia Association for Parks. Individuals even have an option to join at no cost to show support for parks in Virginia. Dues paying members may attend conferences and vote in elections. Find out about membership opportunities by clicking here.