TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Gov. Rick Scott proclaimed July as Recreation and Parks Month, noting that parks and recreation programs contribute to a healthy lifestyle, boost the economy and promote cultural diversity.

As part of Recreation and Parks Month, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service is emphasizing its Junior Ranger program, which encourages young people to explore Florida's natural and cultural resources.

"Exploring Florida’s beaches, springs and forests is the perfect activity for a Junior Ranger,“ Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service, said in a news release. “Young people and their families can make lasting memories while enjoying beaches and springs for swimming, trails for hiking, campgrounds and cabins for overnight trips, and a variety of locations for picnicking.”

The program is open to children of all ages but aimed at those in elementary and middle school. Junior Rangers complete six core activities to learn about natural and cultural resources, recreation and service.

The participants review their activities with a park ranger and earn a certificate, member ID card and an official Junior Ranger passport. They can complete more activities to earn stamps on the passport and eventually earn a Junior Ranger badge, patch or pin.

Area parks participating in the Junior Ranger program include Fort Clinch State Park, Little Talbot Island State Park, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park and Anastasia State Park.

For more participating parks or information on other Florida Park Service programs, visit floridastateparks.org.