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All it takes is one person to make a difference. Like an unexpected donor who sponsors Wading Adventures so children can learn about sea creatures or a person who dreams of a community history museum in a beautifully restored, unvisited lighthouse.

In the summer of 1989, Marnie Banks, founder of the Boca Beacon, told her staff Daniel Godwin and Marilyn Hoeckel of her dream to turn the Boca Grande Lighthouse into a museum. Her one idea spurred many others to quickly join forces. However, the lighthouse was in a state park which meant a Citizen Support Organization (CSO) had to be formed to enable them to create, support and manage the lighthouse and museum. In 1989, Barrier Island Parks Society (BIPS) was established and by 1999, the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse & Museum was created.

Today, BIPS manages and operates three historic sites, supports four state parks, manages two gift shops, a bike and kayak rental program at Cayo Costa, Beach Ambassador, Light Keeper and Bird

Stewardship programs and much more. BIPS has many exciting educational programs and events slated for 2022 that they directly support.

These programs and events would not succeed without the  countless hours of our volunteers and the support of our members, donors and granting agencies.  BIPS would also not have existed, if it were not for…Marnie’s dream.

Excerpts from this text were taken from the ‘You can’t be a beacon if your light don’t shine’ article written by Delores Savas for the Boca Beacon. The article in its entirety can be found at Many thanks to The Boca Beacon staff and our Founders for their continued support of Barrier Island Parks Society – May your lights always shine!

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