Self-taught painter and longtime volunteer Janet Heaton was named John D. MacArthur Beach State Park’s 2013 Environmental Champion.
The honor, bestowed annually by Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park, recognizes people who have made exceptional contributions toward preserving and improving Palm Beach County’s natural environment.
Heaton, 76, of West Palm Beach has volunteered at the park for more than 20 years. During that time she has raised more than $250,000 for the Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park and helped establish the park as a venue for animal and wildlife art exhibitions.
“She was definitely an obvious choice,” said Susan Kamp, the park’s marketing and membership coordinator. “She’s dedicated herself to this park.”
Heaton, a Miami native who has served on the board of the Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park and the Nature Foundation, began volunteering at the park after she was asked to put together an art exhibit there.
Since then, the longtime wildlife artist — her work depicts birds and mammals from Africa and North America — has organized exhibitions at the park featuring more than 100 artists and local and international art societies.
She also founded the Natural Selections Art Exhibition and Sale, a 10-year biennial event at the park presented by the International Society of Animal Artists.
“To a lot of people, this park is an unknown paradise,” she said. “It’s something that they don’t see every day. If you like the outdoors and the natural world, then you gravitate back to this place.”
One of Heaton’s own paintings is on display at the park. She has exhibited many others at national and international museums, and has earned numerous awards and recognition for her work.
Heaton is one of 14 Environmental Champions honored by Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park since 2001. Neal White, director of Jupiter High School’s Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy, was selected last year.
Heaton will receive her award March 16 during the park’s annual NatureScaping and Dark Skies Festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features native plant vendors, a live animal show, environmental exhibitors, a photography contest, children’s crafts, a raffle, food and music. Admission is free.
The park is at 10900 Jack Nicklaus Drive. For information, call (561) 776-7449, Ext. 109.