Polk environmental calendar

The cover of the 2021 Polk County Environmental Lands Program Calendar, pictured, is one of several captivating images depicting the county’s natural beauty.

Former Polk County Parks and Natural Resources Director Jeff Spence has been working on his photography skills and volunteering his time since his retirement in 2018.

Jeff and his wife, Lynette Spence, took all of the pictures in the recently published 2021 Polk County Environmental Lands Program Calendar — which can now be picked up at the Nature Discovery Center at Circle B Bar Reserve or at the reception desk in the Communications Division in Bartow.

Over his 35 years of service to the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, Jeff Spence held many different positions including Water Quality Engineer, Water Resources Director, Interim Utilities Director and Natural Resources Director. During his career, he has overseen county parks, regional drainage, water resources, mosquito control, invasive plant control, the Historical Center and the Environmental Lands Program.

“Jeff has been a strong leader in Polk County,” said former County Manager Jim Freeman in 2018. “He leaves with a legacy of developing beautiful parks filled with recreational opportunities and thousands of acres of protected environmental lands for our residents. Water quality in Polk’s lakes has improved greatly and new drainage construction in many neighborhoods has added to the quality of life of our residents.”

Flipping through the calendar, one will see a variety of nature habitats around the county that the Polk County Environmental Lands program staff and volunteers manage. Volunteers including more than 650 Polk County residents have donated more than 91,000 hours of their time to aid county government efforts and save taxpayers money.

“Polk’s volunteers form the backbone of our operation among the different sites managed in the program,” Polk County Environmental Lands Stewardship Coordinator Candice Knothe said. “They host classes, information sessions, tram tours and hikes. They assist with summer camps, maintenance of our facilities and provide assistance in hosting school groups.”

For more information on volunteer-led programs and scheduled events, visit www.polk-county.net.