Since 1992, Austin Parks Foundation has been devoted to improving parks, trails and green spaces all over the city. This year, we turn 25 and we’re excited to celebrate not just the big wins of the last quarter century, but also the coming enhancements to our city’s prized outdoor spaces.
From the very start, APF has been rooted in community initiated action. Volunteer projects have been our bread and butter, and strategic investments were the life-blood of the vision our founders set out to realize. But did you know some of our first programs are still around even today? We took a trip down memory lane via our first-ever annual report, though at the time it was called the Report to Contributors, and it wasn’t exactly annual. This piece of nostalgia was written 4 years after our founding (in 1996) and re-capped some of our most significant contributions to Austin’s parks to-date. Check out some of these fun facts from APF’s history:
- APF was started by 12 volunteer board members in 1992 and has grown to 12 full-time staff (soon to be 14!), 15 volunteer board members, and nearly 8,000 dedicated park volunteers
- Our first programs included fund management services (now the Sponsored Fund Account program which hosts about 65 accounts for Adopt-A-Park groups all over the city), the Junior Lifeguard Scholarship Program (a hint at our future Lifeguard Recruitment initiative), and the very first Adopt-A-Park program in Austin history (now a robust partnership between the city of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department and APF with nearly 100 Adopt-A-Park groups caring for their neighborhood parks.)
- Our first efforts to advocate for, fund and build community around neighborhood parks started with the Neighborhood Park Portfolio. APF selected Springdale Park, Colorado River Park (now the southernmost piece of the Butler Hike & Bike Trail, along with Krieg Fields and Holly Shores), and Bartholomew Park. Each park saw efforts to fund upgrades to aging amenities, advocacy and outreach to ask the city to clean-up and revitalize these green spaces, and community efforts to better plan for the future of the parks and surrounding neighborhoods.
Though a lot has changed since 1992, some things remain encouragingly the same – like APF’s resolve to protect, promote and preserve our green spaces. The closing remarks of that report are quite the same as what we would say today, 25 years later:
“Their reasons for founding Austin Parks Foundation are multiple, varied and personal – as personal as your own childhood. Remember that place you went to explore, to make believe adventure with friends, or to escape the tyranny of the adult world? Now imagine your childhood without that place. As Austin grows and the edge of town is ever further out, protecting wild places within the city becomes more vital than before. With your support, Austin Parks Foundation will protect our existing parks and plan for the needs of our community into the future.”