Friends of the Islamorada Area State Parks
The Friends of the Islamorada Area State Parks is a 501c3 organization supporting seven state parks and preserves throughout the Florida Keys.
Friends Board Members and Park Managers (from left to right)
Lou Caputo- President, Lisa Cook- Co-Treasurer, Marianne Finizio- Co-Treasurer, Lu Dodson- Park Manager, Daniel Osborn-Park Manager, Karen Sunderland- President, Jill Patterson- Secretary, Kathleen McKinney- Director. Not pictured: Captain Sam- Director, Nancy Alverez-Director
I look back at the honor it was to join an enthusiastic group of community members sharing a common passion that included preservation of natural areas, preservation of history, education, and maintaining and expanding our local state parks. Friends of the Islamorada Area State Parks, a citizens’ support organization, incorporated in 1987.
I enjoy sharing my passion and enthusiasm regarding the importance of conservation and preservation of both history and environment, and as development impacts much of the area, the state parks provide examples of the diversity and uniqueness of our area.
I currently volunteer as a master gardener, serve on the Monroe County Extension Horticulture Advisory Committee, native plant society, and Daughters of the American Revolution Coral Gables chapter officer. I am a former volunteer EMT/Firefighter and have served on various boards and committees. My hobbies have included SCUBA diving, sailboat racing, and tennis. I have run my environmental consulting business since 1989.
I have called Plantation Key my home since 1968.
Colonel Lou Caputo is the Undersheriff for the Monroe County Sheriff Office, he started with the Sheriff office in 1984 as a reserve deputy and worked his way through the ranks to his current position. Lou served two tours in Vietnam as a Tracker dog Handler with his dog Bruce they were assigned to the First Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division. After his military service he returned to the Keys where He married his childhood sweetheart Anita and have been married for 44 years. They have three adult kids and 9 grandchildren the family has lived in the keys for over fifty years. Eventually Lou started his own business and became a State Certified Electrical Contractor. Along the way he has earned his Associate of Arts in Criminals Justice, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration and his Masters in Administration of Justice and Security. He has also attended the prestigious FBI National Academy earning the Excellence in Leadership award. He is past president and current board member of Leadership Monroe and is an Alumni of Leadership Florida.
As a long time resident of the keys Lou has seen the decline of eco systems that surround the keys and the Everglades. For the past fourteen years he has been very active leading the Environment session for Leadership Monroe and Educating Leaders about the water flow and the quality of the water that impact The Keys. Lou was instrumental in working on getting a pump out boat for the upper Keys and getting the rules change for the Everglades to become a no Discharge zone for boats in the park. Lou’s love and passion for the Keys and of the state parks locate throughout Monroe County, sparked Lou’s Interest Into joining the Friends of the parks which has been supporting the parks and their programs since the 80’s.
Lisa Cook is a native Floridian who now lives in the Keys. She is an RN and has been since the early 90’s. She has had a diverse career in the medical field and is now involved in the financial aspect of healthcare. She has spent the majority of her life enjoying the Florida Keys and is an avid boater and loves to fish and swim. She has spent many years since the late 70’s in the Keys, her parents were some of the first to build in Long Key. Enjoying the outdoors and parks have been a way of life for her.
As a 40-year resident of the Florida Keys and now retired from running a construction company with her husband, Jill remains active in community and environmental projects.
Jill’s eyes opened in the mid-1980s when the Florida Keys faced losing the last remaining large stand of Tropical Hardwood Hammock. Hundreds of acres on North Key Largo were slated for major development to support an estimated population of 50,000. She realized that once land is cleared it is gone forever and with it the habitat that supports wildlife. The island would become a city and lose the small island feel.
It became evident that balancing environmental needs with the human desire to develop would be a constant challenge, especially during building booms. Inspired by visionary, grassroots community leaders, who worked without compensation and understood the need to protect our natural resources, she joined efforts to give endangered species a voice.
Jill continues to support initiatives that provide blue, green, and open space which offers us an opportunity to connect with nature and educate ourselves about the value of preserving habitat for future generations of humans and wildlife. She believes our collective well-being depends on it.
Capt. Samantha is a Florida Keys local with extensive knowledge of Islamorada, Marathon, Key West, and Key Largo. Growing up playing in the waters of Lower Matecumbe, Capt. Samantha developed a passion for marine habitats and went on to pursue a degree in Marine Biology at Barry University. Now with over 15 years of experience as a licensed captain, Capt. Samantha runs a 21-foot deck boat at Robbie’s Marina, offering exciting sightseeing charters such as eco-tours, snorkeling, island tours, and sunset cruises to landmarks like Indian Key, Lignumvitae Key, Alligator Lighthouse, and Everglades National State Park.
Dedicating my life to law enforcement, rising through the ranks early in my career from Communications in 1986 to my tenure of working Patrol, Patrol Sergeant, Narcotics Detective, & Intelligence. During my senior ranks of management with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office I was the first female Commander of the Major Crimes and Narcotics Special Operations Division.
As my resume, biography and career history, I am a 37 year employee of MCSO. I am a certified instructor for the State of Florida and teach at the law enforcement academies and an advocate to improve officer safety and awareness. I hold a BA in Criminal Justice. The Florida Keys are surrounded by water and marine related equipment and activity. These items attribute to a large portion of residents lively- hood. Some of my most significant accomplishments of my career have occurred while being assigned to the Intelligence unit and working in collaboration with local, state and federal agencies. I have been fortunate to work in the South Florida law enforcement for over 25 years of my 35 law enforcement career. I have been very effective to network with both law enforcement professionals as well as the private sector community to acquire my optimal goal is to make an impact on crime in our communities with no barriers being drawn between local, state or federal law enforcement.. All of us working together for a common objective.
I am a past president in the Rotary Club of Key Largo and I continue to be dedicated not only my community but the State of Florida law enforcement community. I am adept at communicating within the law enforcement community and public sector and conduct a variety of presentations to community organizations on various crimes or topics.
Those who know me (members of the South Florida Law Enforcement Community, and national, state and local government leaders and members) know that my greatest attribution involves collaborating, assisting and supporting law enforcement at all government levels towards making an impact on the marine related crimes and organizations that travel throughout many jurisdictions to commit their crimes. This experience provides me the knowledge and ability to conduct presentations to the International Marine Investigators Conference and other law enforcement conferences.
I look forward to our partnership with the Friend of Islamorada State Parks!
I have worked for the Florida Highway Patrol since April 18, 1983. I’ve been assigned in South Florida during this time. I was born and raised in Miami and graduated from North Miami Senior High School.
I’ve been living and working in Monroe County, the beautiful Florida Keys, since November 2008. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. Over the last few years, as a member of the Mangrove Swamp Band, I’ve performed at Fort Zach in Key West, as well as Christmas on the Island and Island Fest.
I found out the “Friends” were hoping to boost their numbers. As a long affiliated state worker, I know and understand many of the challenges that can face state entities. I hoped that this knowledge would help me as part of this group and I was looking forward to continue to give something back to our community.
FIASP conducts yearly fundraisers to help provide financial support to the parks. These include Lignumvitae Christmas Festival and the Curry Hammock Car Show. The group always welcomes new members.
Meetings: The group meets once every other month at rotating locations around the upper and middle Keys. Meeting locations including Windley Key, Layton and Marathon.