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"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society Newsletter
June 23, 2016
In This Issue
The 2nd Annual Nature Explorers Day Camp begins its third week  next Monday. 
The Refuge has been making a lot of happy campers the past couple of weeks.  Click here to read a cute thank-you letter from one of our week 1 campers. 

Intern Johnny Hong Chen (right) helps a summer camper bait his hook during a beach fishing activity.

Junior Rangers

 Did you know that "Ding" Darling has a program where kids can earn their Junior Ranger Badge? Just come to the Refuge Visitor & Education Center and ask for details at the front desk. Here, Cooper and Reese from San Diego show off their earned badges.
It's snack time here at the refuge!
Thank you to Carol Rabanus of Ellisville, Missouri, for this great montage of a cattle egret enjoying a tasty anole snack! 

Fourth of July Parade
"Ding" Darling Refuge staff and friends decorated this truck to enter the City of Sanibel's Fourth of July Parade on Monday. In keeping with the "Sweet Island of Liberty" theme, the truck proclaims "Sweet Refuge of Liberty." 
Call for Volunteers

Do you like interacting with fellow nature-lovers, meeting new people, and learning a new skill? The Refuge Nature Store is seeking summer volunteers to work the cashier, especially for Sunday shifts. No experience is necessary. Interested persons should contact Store Manager Jeanne Walsh by email or by phone at 239-472-1100 ext. 241.
Water Quality: Take Action NOW
Help clean up our waters and save our wildlife! Get water moving south out of Lake Okeechobee. Click here to find out how to take action. 
 Click here to see more aerial photographs taken of the tainted waters around Sanibel Island.
Photo courtesy of City of Sanibel

Open for Registration
Nationally acclaimed bird authors, TV personalities, and longtime Sanibel Island winter residents Don and Lillian Stokes will again contribute their time and expertise to lead two fundraising birders tram tours of the "Ding" Darling Refuge on the morning of Friday, February 10, 2017. Wildlife Drive is normally closed on Fridays, meaning tour participants READ MORE
Don Stokes teaches about bird identification. 

Lillian leads a bird photography tour.

2016 Photo Contest Opens
Kent Jager of Sanibel Island took first place in the 2015's contest with "Bath Time".  

Deadline for submission is September 15, 2016. The contest, sponsored by the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society, is held in conjunction with "Ding" Darling Days, October 16-20, 2016. Click here for rules & entry form. 
More Summer Staffing!
Temporary staffers continue to arrive to help the Refuge with manpower shortages this summer.
STAR teacher Vanessa Clark

Vanessa Clark joined the team this summer as a STAR teacher (Summer Teachers Assisting Refuges program), a program which is supported by the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society. She will work at Lehigh Elementary School during the coming school year as a fourth-grade teacher of the Talented and Gifted Program. Previously she taught at Tanglewood Elementary in Fort Myers.  Vanessa graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2002 - among the school's first graduation class - with a degree in elementary education. She is assisting with Indigo Trail tours, scavenger hunts, and conservation presentations during this summer's Nature Explorers Day Camp, now in session.  "I am looking forward to working with kids while being outside and exploring this area," said Vanessa. "I am also very excited to learn about Florida wildlife and bring back my experiences and knowledge to my classroom in the fall. This is a great job, and I can't believe I get paid to hike, kayak, beach walk, and play with kids!"

Fletcher DeMeo
Fletcher De Meo
comes to the Refuge from Perth, Australia, as a full-time resident volunteer for the summer. He assists both the day camp team and Refuge maintenance crew. Fletcher is currently working towards his master's degree in sustainability and climate policy at Curtin University in Perth and will graduate mid-2017. "I love Wildlife Drive. I see something different every morning as I drive through to do my maintenance chores," Fletcher said. "It's amazing to see how the Refuge is so ingrained in the community's identity; it's a fantastic example of how community refuges should operate."
Do you vote in Lee County?
Vote YES for Conservation 20/20.  Support the continued use of tax dollars to conserve important wildlife habitat and outdoor recreational opportunities in Lee County by voting YES for Conservation 20/20 in the November 8, 2016, election. Thanks to 20/20, we were able to 
fulfill our goal to purchase and protect property at Woodring Point in 2013. We hope to work with the county again in the future on such preservation partnerships. 

Click here for more information. 
Getting Kids Outdoors
Intern Carrie Alexander is with a group of visitors who participated in the free summer beach walk at the Perry Tract, offered by the Refuge.
"The importance of outside playtime is about more than just a means for children to have fun and work out their energy: Access to outdoor play can have lifelong developmental, mental, and educational impacts on a child." READ MORE
J.N. "Ding" Darling
This Land Is Your Land
"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society has undertaken a campaign to acquire more than 8 acres on Sanibel Island

Largely responsible for the establishment of the network of wildlife refuges around the country today, J.N. "Ding" Darling was called the best friend ducks ever had.  He liked to remind overzealous developers that "ducks can't lay eggs on picket fences."  Darling, who spent many winters on Captiva Island, led the drive that culminated in the creation on December 1, 1945 of the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge, later named the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge in his honor in 1978.  

He would be proud to know that people continue to care about our land and are working to preserve this property because ducks, or any other birds for that matter, can't lay eggs on picket fences. This property is currently permitted for five homes. That leaves little or no room for bird nesting or any other wildlife activity. 

This property, located on Wulfert Road and just beyond the exit of the Refuge Wildlife Drive, is a crucial wildlife corridor for the "Ding" Darling Refuge. We must raise $2 million in private funds to purchase the parcel, with a deadline of February, 2017.  If not preserved by the Refuge, READ MORE

To make a gift or multi-year pledge or for more information, contact DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller at 239-292-0566 or by email.

Become a Sponsor for "Ding" Darling Days!

"Ding" Days sponsorships start at $200. For information on becoming a sponsor, visit www.dingdarlingdays.com or email Jennifer McSorley by July 30, 2016.
Thanks to sponsors who are already showing their support: 


John & Beth Newland   
                         Wayne & Linda Boyd

Fold-Up Gator
Henry Wurth from Scottsdale, Arizona, received an alligator postcard, purchased from our Refuge Nature Store by his great-aunt Doris Hardy, DDWS president. It is one in a line of cutout creature postcards that recipients can assemble. Here's a picture of him with the finished product. A fun way to communicate with the crafty kids in your life - and for only $1 each!
Refuge Spotlight:
America's Best-Kept Secret

This issue, Gerardo Longoria, a Law Enforcement Officer on detail from
Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge to train with "Ding" LE Officer Jim Matthiesen, introduces us to his home refuge, one of more than 560 refuges in the U.S. 

Visitors can often see Green Jays just outside of the visitors center at Santa Ana NWR.
Location:n 2,088 acres in Alamo, Texas
Totemic fauna: Green Jays and Altamira Orioles
Fun for the family: The nature tram
Great Kiskadee photo courtesy of FWS
Visitor's tip:
Visit the canopy walk and tree tower for a breathtaking view of the refuge.

If you've had a recent fabulous experience at "Ding" Darling lately, please review us on TripAdvisor. Here's a five-star review from June 2016:

The J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is like no other protected park or refuge to which you might've ever been! As a wildlife sanctuary, all flora and fauna are free to roam for numerous acres of ground, swamp, and several "brackish" waterway inlets, and there are plenty of these animals and plants, alike, to be observed - mainly from your air-conditioned vehicle as you wind your way down the lengthy "driveway"/path through the Refuge. Of course, you're always welcome to park on the side of this road at any time to get out to take a closer look when you "spot" something of interest! BEST ADVICE: (1) Go during open park hours; they close a few hours before Sunset; and (2) Drive SLOWLY or you can *easily* miss something!"   Howard G, Houston, Texas.

Just in at the Refuge Nature Store!  These beautiful, nature-themed Original-Art Canvas Placemats are made of a heavy cotton-linen blend with an acrylic finish for easy cleaning. The 12 x 16 mats make a perfect statement for your Florida home, or can bring a bit of the tropics to wherever you live. Price is $13.99 each. To mail-order your placemats, email or call 239-472-1100 ext. 241. 

Remember, proceeds from all Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for educational programs and wildlife research.

White Ibis and snake by Patty MacInnis, Yellow-crowned Night Heron by Sylvia Guarino, Anhinga chicks by Anita Smith. 

To see more wildlife photos, click on our social media links:

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If you have taken any beautiful, interesting, or just plain goofy photos taken at the Refuge, send them to Society intern Carrie Alexander for a chance to be featured in upcoming newsletters.

Volunteers Phyllis Gresham (photographed above with Refuge visitor Sophia) and Elaine Swank interact with children and families every Wednesday during the free Summer Programs at 10:00 a.m. for Reading in the Refuge.  

Free Summer Programs - June 19-August 6, 2016
27th Annual "Ding" Darling Days - October 16-22, 2016
Smithsonian Water/Ways Exhibit - Oct.28-December 8, 20
Kids Fishing Derby - November 28, 2016
Happy Hour Holiday Shopping - November 30, 2016
DDWS Annual Meeting - December 7, 2016
Volunteer Holiday Luncheon - December 9, 2016
Go Wild for "Ding" - February 8, 2017
Volunteer Awards Luncheon - February 10, 2017
These are just snapshots of some of the things taking place at your Wildlife Refuge.  Please check our website at www.dingdarlingsociety.org to learn more!

Birgit Miller, Executive Director

"Ding" On The Wing composed by Chelle Koster Walton.  Designed by Sarah Lathrop and interns Carrie Alexander and Anna Grubb
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