School is out! All across Florida, students looking for summer activities. No wonder so many national programs highlight the fun of getting outdoors. June has the most daylight hours and the longest day of the year, providing plenty of opportunity for families and friends to enjoy nature and each other.
June is celebrated across the nation as Great Outdoors Month. President Barack Obama issued a proclamation urging Americans to spend time outdoors and to uphold our nation’s legacy of conserving our lands for future generations. The proclamation suggests families and friends explore, play and grow together, while hiking, wildlife-watching canoeing, hunting, fishing or playing in the neighborhood park – activities that help kids stay healthy, active and energized.
Gov. Rick Scott’s 2012 proclamation says during “Great Outdoors Month, we celebrate the rich blessings of our state’s natural beauty and we renew our commitment to protecting our environment so that we can leave our children and grandchildren a healthy and flourishing land.” It goes on to say, “Great Outdoors Month will encourage cooperative conservation and new technologies to help ensure America’s outdoors remain places where families and friends can learn, exercise, and create meaningful memories.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), along with Florida State Parks, the Florida Forest Service and national forests, parks and wildlife refuges each promote a variety of activities to support Great Outdoors Month and other events in June.
Get Outdoors Florida! lists June events across the state on its website, GetOutdoorsFlorida.org.
The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation is asking Facebook fans (Facebook.com/takemefishing) to choose the “Top Eight State Parks” in the U.S. that offer fishing. Florida is the only two-time winner of the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, as well as being the Fishing Capital of the World, so visit your favorite state park fishing spot, then vote. You will be eligible for weekly Bass Pro Shops gift card giveaways, as well as the grand prize: an all-expense-paid vacation to your choice of one of the Top Eight State Parks.
June is also recognized as Recreational Fishing Month by VISIT FLORIDA, which helps promote Florida as the Fishing Capital of the World (FishingCapital.com). Events at its visitors’ centers help highlight the tourism value of recreational fishing to Florida. Florida has about a million anglers who come from out-of-state each year, and they make up a substantial part of the $7.5 billion economic impact from recreational fisheries that support nearly 80,000 Florida jobs.
June 2-10 is promoted as National Fishing and Boating Week (TakeMeFishing.org). The FWC supports this effort by providing license-free saltwater fishing on the first Saturday (June 2) and license-free freshwater fishing on the second Saturday (June 9).
“Florida’s license-free fishing days are an excellent opportunity to share the fun, excitement and togetherness of a fishing trip with the entire family. This also is a great time for experienced anglers to introduce friends to the sport, even if they don’t have a fishing license,” said Nick Wiley, FWC executive director. “By having these events on weekends, we hope Florida residents and visitors will experience the joy of saltwater and freshwater fishing. We expect many will discover a healthy sport they can enjoy for a lifetime.” All other fishing rules apply on these days (MyFWC.com/Fishing).
In addition, June 2 is National Trails Day (AmericanHiking.org), and the theme is “America’s Largest Trailgating Party!” The American Hiking Society is encouraging hikers and volunteers to help maintain their favorite trails and afterward celebrate with an eco-friendly party. FWC is celebrating its third paddling trail being designated as part of the national trails system on June 2 at Wacissa River County Park, Jefferson County. Come out and join the fun from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
June 9 is also National Get Outdoors Day, the purpose of which is to increase first-time visitors to public lands and reconnect youth to the great outdoors. As a result, it is a Fee-Free Day for U.S. Department of Interior sites, such as national wildlife refuges, national parks and national forests (Recreation.gov).
Finally, the Great American Campout is June 23. Visit NWF.org for great tips, suggestions and to share your adventure. The neat thing about this day is that families do it in the safety and comfort of their own backyard.
Many celebrations take place in June – the month believed to be named after the Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage and youth – including Father’s Day.
So get together to reconnect not only with each other but with nature.
Get Outdoors Florida! and enjoy your summer.