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Press Release

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DEP Press Office
(850) 245-2112

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Florida First Lady Honors International Literacy Day

~ Event commemorates reading and literacy at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park ~

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Education joined Florida's First Lady Ann Scott in recognition of International Literacy Day and Florida Literacy Month this morning at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park. At a picnic pavilion overlooking beautiful Lake Hall, Mrs. Scott read Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney, this year's Read for the Record book, and spoke with students from local home schools and Buck Lake Elementary about the importance of reading.

"Reading is a fundamental component to help children succeed in the classroom," said Mrs. Scott. "Opportunities to read and share stories with students, especially at a Florida State Park, are great ways to encourage literacy."

Following Mrs. Scott's reading, participating students were given an interactive, educational tour of Maclay Gardens State Park by two park rangers, participated in a hands-on craft project sponsored by Michael's craft stores and enjoyed refreshments provided by Earth Fare. Each student received a copy of the Read for the Record book read by Mrs. Scott, Llama Llama Red Pajama, courtesy of the Pearson Foundation.

"Reading and being in nature are two of life's greatest pleasures and state parks are the perfect place to combine both," said Maclay Gardens State Park Manager Beth Weidner. "We are pleased to welcome Mrs. Scott today for a morning of reading in the park and hope to see people enjoy the park for free on Sunday."

Studies have consistently shown that students who read throughout the year are able to retain their knowledge and continue to learn. Today's event recognized Sept. 8 as International Literacy Day and Florida Literacy Month and also reflected on the successful Summer Literacy Adventure the First Lady pioneered this summer for students to pledge to read throughout the state during summer break. The winning school of the contest will be announced later this year and each student will receive one day-use pass to Florida State Parks.

"Florida Literacy Month serves as an excellent reminder to share our passion for reading with family and friends," said Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. "Venues as beautiful as our state parks can serve as imaginative backdrops for our students to further their literacy skills, and I applaud the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for their continued partnership in the education of our students."

To celebrate Florida Literacy Month and in conjunction with National Library Card Signup Month and International Literacy Day, DEP's Florida Park Service will offer free entrance to all Florida State Parks* on Sunday, Sept. 11, with the presentation of a library book or library card or with the donation of a new or gently used family-friendly book. State parks across Florida will host literacy related events to recognize Florida Literacy Month throughout September. For a full listing of events, visit the events calendar on the Florida State Parks Online Park Guide.

*This offer does not include Skyway Fishing Pier State Park in St. Petersburg.

About the Department of Education
The Department of Education administers a statewide reading initiative for Florida's public schools, and among community groups and volunteer organizations that support them, with a goal of having every child able to read at or above grade level by the year 2012. To help students find books based on their interests, the Department of Education also provides a free resource called Find a Book. This online tool matches a student's reading level with the complexity of various texts.
About Florida State Parks, Greenways and Trails
The nation's best state parks and trails have joined forces. Now a part of the Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Park Service, the award-winning Office of Greenways and Trails manages the 110-mile Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, eight state trails and more. Florida's award-winning state parks have inspired residents and visitors with recreation opportunities and scenic beauty that helps to strengthen families, educate children, expand local economies and foster community pride. With 160 parks, 700,000 acres, 100 miles of beaches and more than 600 miles of multi-use trails, visit soon and often to enjoy Florida's natural treasures. For more information on visit www.FloridaStateParks.org or www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/.
About Read for the Record
Read for the Record is an international campaign that encourages children to read the same book, on the same day, in communities all over the world. Sponsored by Jumpstart, the campaign began in 2006. This year, the selected book is Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney, and the chosen date is Oct. 6, 2011. For more information visit www.readfortherecord.org.