Hello, how are you? My name is Tonia Lovejoy and today I am honored to introduce myself to you as the Acting Director of the Friends of VI National Park. You may recognize my name from your emails, or from calls asking for your support over the past few years, as the Development Director.

Seven years ago I sailed into Cruz Bay, hiked the Lind Point Trail to Salomon Beach, and like many a sailor before me, fell in love. Though it was the steady easterly breeze and the crystal clear blue waters that first captivated me, today it is the depth of human experience that St. John holds.

Virgin Islands National Park is truly a treasure to protect, preserve, and connect with today and tomorrow. Whether you first saw a sea turtle here, or learned to swim, undoubtedly, you have made memories in VI National Park that will bring you joy for a lifetime. We know, this park means so much to us all.

For those now able to safely travel, the warmth of our season offers to thaw and heal the unrest of the past year. As we welcome park visitors en masse from all over the U.S. and brace ourselves for another hurricane season, it is easy to see where our work lies. With your support, we will continue to protect and preserve VI National Park so future generations will come to know and love the park like we do today.

Here and below are some recent highlights:

  • Folk Life Festival Documentary — A tribute to our island’s cultural heritage produced in partnership with the Park with support from Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) and WTJX Public Broadcasting.
  • Summer Youth Trail Crew — This great program is up and running again this year with applications opening shortly thanks to funding awarded by the National Park Foundation. 
  • Caneel Bay Progress — NPS has completed their initial environmental assessments and results will be made public shortly, and community conversations about its future are scheduled.
  • Turtle Season Success — Over 2,500 hatchlings made it to the ocean to start their lives thanks to an extraordinary team of 99 volunteers who logged over 1350 hours.
  • Native Plant Propagation — The over 500 trees planted on North Shore beaches are doing well, and we are not done yet! Thanks to the support of CFVI, Chuck and Monica McQuaid Foundation, and others.

It is an honor to be at the helm on behalf of members and supporters like you. Thank you for your continued support!

Tonia Lovejoy, Acting Director
Earth Day 2021
Earth Day is Thursday, April 22 and we will be celebrating all week with virtual sessions for kids, trash pickup, and tree giveaways under the theme: Leave Only Bubbles!  

Thursday, April 22
Tree Giveaway

Saturday, April 24
Get Trashed Pickup

Sea Turtle 2020 Season Success
The Sea Turtle Program is proud to report yet another successful season. Regular beach monitoring for sea turtle nesting activity was conducted by 99 trained volunteers beginning in late June covering 47 beaches logging over 1350 hours. In addition to beach monitoring, volunteers regularly collected trash on their patrols and did 170 beach cleanups. Sixty-one hawksbill nesting activities were documented on 10 nesting beaches, yielding 33 confirmed nests, 23 false crawls, and 5 possible nests. The egg count for the season was 3,933 eggs producing 2,648 hatchlings.
Folk Life Festival 2021
In partnership with Virgin Islands National Park Service (VINP), the Friends, and its media sponsor WTJX created a mini-documentary "Passing It On To Another One" that weaves together inspirational tales told by Virgin Island culture bearers who have participated in the festival through the years in colorful interviews and demonstrations of their expertise in the cultural arts, music and crafts.
Native Plant Propagation Nursery
Friends recently built and opened a second nursery for native plant propagation expanding our ability to nurture native trees and plants!

Under the expert guidance of Eleanor Gibney, a local horticulturist, Friends has planted some 500 trees on Hawksnest, Trunk, Cinnamon, and Maho Beaches since June 2020. 
This Native Plant Propagation Project in partnership with the Virgin Islands National Park and funded by Friends donors and members aims to increase soil stabilization and prevent erosion on our beautiful beaches. In addition over 350 trees have been handed out in community giveaways!  

Thanks to our donors, members and volunteers who make this possible. In particular, thank you to Cinn Op Co for funding the hurricane debris removal along North Shore beaches that made planting possible, the Chuck and Monica McQuaid Foundation for its funding of native plant propagation as well as other island plant projects; Lancaster Trees and Shrubs for a donation of soil for our nursery; and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands for plant propagation funding for our community plant giveaway! Our next giveaway will be during Earth Week! (See Above)
Community Matters: Future of Caneel
Friends is committed to finding a solution that addresses the environmental contamination on the property and includes conversation with the community.

Two upcoming community conversations are scheduled:
  • Virgin islands National Park will host a listening session that will take place Thursday, April 8 at 5:30pm (AST)The listening session comes as NPS makes plans to release a report of its findings to the Caneel Bay environmental site assessment by late spring.
  • On Saturday, April 10 at 12:30-2:00pm (AST), St.JanCo, WTJX Public Broadcasting and the Community Foundation of Virgin Islands will host and air a teach-in panel conversation sponsored by Friends. The conversation is the first of a Community Matters Series and aims to examine the challenges presented by Caneel including the larger socio-historical context that facilitates the current closure of Caneel Bay Resort, and the availability of pathways to change.
2021 Beach to Beach Power Swim
Registration is open for the 18th Annual Beach to Beach 2021 Power Swim on Sunday, May 30 to raise funds for marine conservation and youth programs like coral restoration and learn to swim. Swim with us down the North Shore! Space is limited and we already have150 swimmers registered so act now! Can't be here in person! Join us virtually wherever you are!
Friday with Friends
Join us on Fridays and explore your park by land and sea with local guides. Free for members!

Thanks to these sponsors for hosting the paddle tours: Virgin Islands Expedition Company, Virgin Islands Ecotours, and Reef2Peak.