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Press Release

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

DEP Press Office
(850) 245-2112

DEP & DOE Celebrate Adult and Family Literacy Month at Florida’s State Parks
~ Avid readers of all ages encouraged to take their love of reading outdoors ~

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole today joined new and veteran readers alike in Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park in honor of Adult and Family Literacy Month. As a part of the celebration, Lt. Governor Kottkamp and Monica Baxley of Chipley read to local children and shared the importance of reading. Adult and Family Literacy Month will be celebrated throughout the month of September, with Florida’s state parks encouraging all Floridians to embrace literacy in their own lives by sharing the joys of reading with friends and family.

“Opening your favorite book during a visit to one of Florida’s beautiful state parks is the perfect opportunity to ignite the passion of reading with those around you,” said Lt. Governor Kottkamp. “With more than 30 million adults in the U.S. reading below the basic level, it’s crucial that we continue to promote the positive impacts of literacy on a person’s life.”

As a testament to the importance of literacy, Ms. Baxley shared her personal experience of learning to read as an adult. Ms. Baxley dropped out of school in the ninth grade, and as an adult returned to complete her education. She attended several programs at night in a classroom setting to work on attaining a GED. Finally, with the additional assistance of an adult literacy one-on-one tutoring program, she was proudly able to achieve her goal. Bringing her passion of reading to others, she now helps as a volunteer adult tutor for the Country Oaks Learning Center and Library.

“Reading is the cornerstone of learning and I’m grateful for the participation of our state parks in helping to promote the importance of this essential skill,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “As summer begins to wind to a close, I encourage everyone to find the time this month to enjoy a good book in front of a scenic backdrop and under the warm Florida sun.”

To help promote the gift of reading, DEP’s Florida Park Service will offer free day-use entry passes to state parks on Friday, September 11, through Sunday, September 13, with the presentation of a library card, library book or the donation of a new or gently used family friendly book.

“Because reading and literacy is so vital to Florida’s future, it should not just be confined to the classroom. With one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, I can think of no better place to read a good book than at one of Florida’s 160 state parks,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “I encourage everyone to join Florida’s state parks in celebrating the importance of literacy and reading this weekend by taking the opportunity to combine the joy of reading with the beauty of the outdoors at a Florida State Park.”

With more than 160 state parks in Florida, a myriad of enjoyable activities are available for all ages. To learn more about Florida’s state parks, visit http://www.floridastateparks.org/.

The Florida Department of Education’s Just Read, Florida! office has also been instrumental in prioritizing reading efforts throughout all of Florida’s public schools. To encourage reading and literacy, the Just Read office has created numerous reading lists for students, teachers and families. Visit www.justreadflorida.com to learn more.