Friends of Myakka River
Bob Frank, PhD
Bob has been visiting Myakka River State Park for over 25 years. He has hiked and biked the park’s many trails, but his first love is the park’s wildlife. “This is my Serengeti. I can come here any day of the week and know I will see something special. This is one of the must-do places we bring friends and family when they visit.”
During his working years, Bob was a professor and dean at several universities in Ohio. He is trained as neuroscientist and conducted research in the areas of drug abuse and human taste and smell perception. He retired several years ago and moved to Osprey, allowing him to visit the park more frequently. In addition to serving on the Board of the Friends of Myakka River, Bob is a board member on the Friends of Oscar Scherer Park, and chair of his community’s Ponds and Preserves Committee. In his spare time, he and his wife enjoy wildlife photography, cycling and summer trips in their travel trailer.
Bob is particularly interested in protecting the natural assets of the park so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.
Harold has been intimately involved with Myakka River State Park for as long as he can remember. A Florida native, his father was one of our park rangers and Harold grew up living in a cabin within the park. He now lives nearby and his love for the Park is unwavering.
A career firefighter and paramedic in Sarasota County, Harold’s latter years were spent directing rural operations. He was the park’s liaison to the fire department for controlled burns and he brought over their aerial platform to make exact measurements necessary to establish the canopy walkway.
The depth of Harold’s lifelong personal knowledge of the history of Myakka River State Park serves as a treasure trove during board meetings. Having been part of this board for the better part of a decade, he asks probing questions always with an eye to ensuring wise use of resources. Harold pitches in with a variety of Friends’ activities and specifically wants to continue to build fundraising efforts so the Friends may continue to provide ongoing support for many projects for the park.
Secretary & Treasurer
Sandra has taken advantage of almost everything Myakka River State Park has to offer. She has paddled with the gators and biked and hiked the many miles of trails. It is her “happy place” where she finds solace and peace.
During her active working career, Sandra was the contract administrator for a ship-owning company. Upon retirement, she became a founding member of a local watershed group whose mission was pollution abatement.
Having been Treasurer of the Friends since October 2017, Sandra participates widely in the discussions and operations of the Friends. Her goal is to have the board focus on a wider variety of fund-raising programs.
Tracey Long Beeker
Tracey recently returned to Florida, and over the last year, has been a frequent visitor, guest and community champion of the Myakka River State Park. She has taken advantage of the park's numerous hiking trails, the Friends' Bike Myakka! programs and Moon over Myakka concerts, and hopes to tackle kayaking next year. Professionally, Tracey is an award-winning marketing and communications strategist and has worked on numerous national brands including PBS, Reading Is Fundamental, Sonic Drive-In, Disney on Ice and several PBS KIDS educational programs.
As a member of the Board of Directors, Tracey looks forward to advancing the Friends mission and encouraging people to visit the park and experience its natural beauty first-hand.
Helen Jelks King
Helen’s mother, Dr. Mary Jelks, was integral in forming the Friends of Myakka River decades ago. Helen grew up hiking, biking, and fishing the Myakka River with her family and still enjoys those same activities in the park and on the river.
A retired optometrist, she has a passion for birds and is on the Board of Directors for Sarasota Audubon Society. In addition, Helen serves on the Sarasota County Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee advisory board and is on the Board of Advisors for Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Inc. She is also a board director of the Jelks Family Foundation, Inc. which primarily focuses on environmental causes in Florida. She is active in the First United Methodist Church.
As a new board member, Helen is anxious to discover new volunteer opportunities at Myakka River State Park and hopes to forge a path for the future of the park that will benefit people and nature alike.
Jeannie Hendrick Perales
A multigenerational Floridian, Jeannie appreciates the wilds of Myakka and is honored to serve on the Board. With so much habitat loss in our area in recent years, preserving and protecting what’s left is critical. Her love of Florida forests, especially hardwood hammocks, inspires her to protect this valuable ecosystem for future generations - an important goal for all who enjoy clean air and water.
Jeannie’s career centers on the intersection of art & nature in museums. At Selby Gardens, she designed public programs, worked with volunteers and mounted blockbuster art & horticultural exhibitions. Accompanying the botany team on field expeditions to Fakahatchee, Everglades, Belize and Costa Rica were transformative experiences that deepened her comfort in and enjoyment of nature.
Jeannie enjoys traveling, museums, spending time outdoors and exploring new places with her photographer husband of 20 years, their two awesome teens, a horse named Bernie and a dog named Amigo.
Steve and his native-Sarasota wife have been volunteering at Myakka River State Park for about 15 years, with a special focus on exotic plant removal. Most of that work is done on horseback and even Steve’s horse has his 500 volunteer hours pin!
Steve is a lawyer, having retired as the Chief Assistant Public Defender of Manatee County where he ran the office and tried death penalty cases. His wife, Jean Blackburn, was on the board of the Friends for many years and Steve replaced her on this board when she retired.
With his legal background, Steve has helped with rewriting the bylaws and with negotiations with the county building department and state government. He is particularly interested in developing some activities to get park visitors out into the back country of the park.
Help us Protect and Share Myakka's Magic!
Join us as a Board Member
Becoming a member of the Friends of Myakka River’s Board of Directors can be a rewarding, high impact way to get involved with a community of like-minded individuals, who are helping support and grow one of Florida's oldest, and largest state parks.
It is also a meaningful way to apply your passion for Wild Florida, experience and expertise to help the Friends advance our mission to support Myakka River State Park and the Wild and Scenic Myakka River.
Curious to learn more about current initiatives where Friends of Myakka River could directly benefit from your talents and knowledge?
Ready to get involved and want to fill out a Board Member application?
Please contact Miri Hardy.