From Girl Scout to Activist, Rediscovering the Seeds of Jonathan Dickinson State Park

In the 1970s, my girl scout troop often spent the night in Jonathan Dickinson State Park. At the time, almost all of Martin County was undeveloped so it really didn’t hit me – the value in this very special place.

We girls collected dried flowers, seeds, and grasses to be bound with ribbons and given to our mothers; we lay our packs on bunk beds in musty cabins; we hiked through the pines; we sat around the campfire telling ghosts stories and speaking of bears until too scared to  sleep; we sat in a rare silence, together, staring at the bright stars while eating marshmallows…

Last weekend, I went back to Jonathan Dickinson ~45 years later, this time with my husband Ed, and our dog, Luna.

Although I have aged, the place was even more beautiful!  Almost immediately, I  knew that even though I hadn’t walked it’s piney paths in such a long, long time, it had been an inspiration all my life. A seed growing within me. 

Ed and I chose to walk the trail of Kitching Creek. My attention was captured  by the beauty of the small flowers and I took as many pictures as I could. Slash pine trees abounded, like sentinels, second generation, the magnificent virgin forest cleared in the the 1920s.  Woodpeckers flew from tree to tree looking for insects or maybe a place to set up house. Ed walked far ahead with Luna, stopping every time he came upon a number; I would catch up and read aloud from a pamphlet available at the trail head. 

On our walk, I recognized some of the same grasses I used for my bouquet in 1974. But I knew this time I would not pluck them from the Earth, but take them to heart as inspiration in our fight for clean water, -the St Luice and Loxahatchee-, and the future of Florida.

~I then I realized that long ago, I already had. 

Before drainage there were times the surrounding wetlands, the St Luice, and the Loxahatchee Rivers were wet enough that people could  paddle between them. Today the Loxahatchee suffers from too little water and the St Lucie too much. 

12 thoughts on “From Girl Scout to Activist, Rediscovering the Seeds of Jonathan Dickinson State Park

  1. How lovely, There is so much beauty around us. We need to remind ourselves to look and be grateful. Thank you for sharing your Jonathan Dickinson Park visit.

  2. Pooee— go to the jState Park right across the street from Johnathon Dickins. DEAD water with NO birds . I believe the entire west shore of the 156 mile long lagoon is toxic chemicals preserved in acid—exactly where Henry Flagler and others removed the SOFT coquina.

    1. Thank you Jeff, there are so many things to do there! I have been thinking about horseback riding with my husband as I have not done that in years and it was a part of my youth. I figure those horses are very calm as they are around so many people and walk so often. Happy trails!

  3. great lead in to how we should all be out there enjoying the Park more and celebrating what is left…. great descriptions of your youth, I see an author inside the environmentalist we all love

  4. Beautiful photos and adorable Girl Scouts! I am so glad this place has been preserved. You can see on nighttime satellite images that the first real break in the urban development of southeast Florida happens at JDSP. (Here’s an image from six years ago so it’s probably more dramatic now: I’m really interested in the recent work to preserve wildlife corridors in Florida ( – JDSP is definitely a part of that. If you ever want to go see Florida’s coolest endangered bird, I recommend a Scrub Jay Walk at JDSP! Here’s one I joined in October: It’s also pretty easy to find them without a guide, along that old Army road.

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