The Virgin Islands National Park is a huge part of what makes St John so special. Nearly 70% of St John is protected by the National Park and this has made a profound impact in preventing the over development that has plagued so much of the Caribbean. We owe our access to pristine beaches, exceptional snorkeling, hiking and solitude to the National Park.
Unfortunately, for decades the national park has suffered from chronic underfunding, understaffing, and encroaching development among other issues. In response to these challenges, in 1988 a group of locals formed The Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park with a well-defined mission:
“Protection and preservation of the natural and cultural resources of Virgin Islands National Park and promotes the responsible enjoyment of this unique national treasure.”
They have since grown into a substantial force for good on St John. Partnering with the national park to support environmental education, natural resource protection, cultural preservation and scientific research. The Friends also acts as an advocate for our National Park, particularly on issues that threaten its precious natural or cultural resources. Aside from all this they do a number of fun and educational activities regularly and throughout the year to benefit the park. Check out their calender.
Naturally, I was excited to have the opportunity to take part in the 5th Annual Friends Of VINP online auction.
With only a few hours to the close of the auction I received an email from Jenny Cox inquiring on my availability during her Family’s Christmas Vacation to St John. Excitedly, I replied and waited with bated breath to see who would win, sure enough Jenny placed the highest bid and won the 90-minute portrait session I offered to benefit the park.
It was gratifying to have such a great time while also benefiting such a worthy cause. I look forward to working with Friends again and hopefully seeing the Cox family on their next St John vacation.