Some of the most important visitors to James P. Morgan Memorial Park and Botanical Gardens arrive via the gentle soundfront breezes.  The feathered friends that nest and fledge their young, enhance the natural beauty and create a memorable experience for the people who use the park.

Morgan Park, located on Pensacola Beach Boulevard, is a greenspace, tranquil retreat and lush oasis in the midst of the crowds and traffic which surround it. While the intrinsic value of Morgan Park lies in its peaceful ambience, educating and informing guests about the natural wonders in the park is impactful. To that end, it became clear that educational signs could serve as silent tour guides.

Educational signs, which will withstand the rigors of the salt, sun and wind are not inexpensive. Funding for two signs was secured through a Gulf Breeze Will Do grant and a generous, anonymous donor. One sign is a welcome and introduction to Morgan Park. The other is dedicated to our feathered friends.

The members of the Francis M. Weston Audubon Society were invaluable partners in creating the content for the feathered friends sign. A special thank you to Lucy Duncan, Carol Ascherfeld, Brenda Callaway, Harry Purcell and DJ Zemenick, who contributed content, photographs and review for the sign. The depth of knowledge was vast. The willingness to share that knowledge was a generous gift to the Park.

The feathered friends sign features the Snowy Egret, Common Grackle, Osprey and Green Heron along with a QR code so guests can visit the Francis M. Weston Audubon Society website for more information. The full color photographs will appeal to visitor of all ages, engaging them to sit and seek out the variety of wild birds.

While the Park is currently undergoing some rehabilitation, both the welcome and the feathered friends signs have been installed. Replanting and upgrades will continue over the next few years; but, the signs will remain in their current locations. They create a sense of place where a story unfolds about the park’s history, purpose and inhabitants.

As we look to the future, it is incumbent on citizens to preserve places like Morgan Park, keeping them safe from the perils of development and developers. The Park must continue to be a place of quietude, a botanical oasis for wildlife and people for generations to come.

By Shelley Johnson