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"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society Newsletter

December 8, 2016
In This Issue
February 8, 2017
For more information on Go Wild, click HERE.

A finalist from last year's contest. Photo by Emily Hendry.
The fourth annual "Ding" Darling-Theodore Cross High School Photography Contest is off and running with a deadline of January 15, 2017. The contest invites high school students in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, and Hendry counties to compete for prizes that include a Canon digital SLR camera package, chartered class trips to the Refuge, and copies of Waterbirds READ MORE

The Refuge has closed the Tarpon Bay Recreation Area boat launch due to limited parking space during construction of the new onsite Marine Lab. The Refuge is funding the construction and providing access to Tarpon Bay in partnership with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, which will outfit the lab and collaborate with its research to help alleviate "Ding" biology staff cuts (down to one full-time biologist).

The ramp will remain closed until further
 notice, after Marine Lab construction is finished, which is slated for fall 2017.
Recreation concession
Tarpon Bay Explorers 
will remain OPEN as usual during the construction, offering naturalist-guided tours, cruises, charters, gift shopping, and  canoe, kayak, boat, and bike rentals.
Board Elects Officers
DDWS Board of Directors officers for 2017 include (clockwise from lower left): President Doris Hardy, Vice President Mike Baldwin, and Secretary Wendy Kindig. Not pictured: Treasurer Sarah Ashton.

Thursday, December 15 Osprey Lecture
Alan Poole
On Thursday, December 15, a special lecture takes place in the Visitor & Education Center at 5 p.m. Made possible through a partnership between "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society and the International Osprey Foundation, it features respected ornithologist and author Alan Poole, who will present a free PowerPoint lecture on his extensive osprey research around the world. Poole wrote the definitive book on the species in the late 1980s and is at work on an update with a global READ MORE
Photo by Al Hoffacker
Water/Ways Gushes Success

Our six-week SmithsonianWater/Ways exhibit ended this week. Recent highlights of exhibit programming included the one
-day visit of the WaterVentures Florida's Learning Lab last Saturday, December 3; our final "Water: Have We Missed the Boat?" speakers series panel on December 2; and an ongoing"Engulfed" art show by the Southwest
Thanks to the Florida Humanities Council and LCEC for their support. And thanks to all who came to the Refuge to help make the exhibit and related programming a major success!
2017 Film Series 
The fifth annual "Ding" Darling Wednesday Film Series kicks off its biweekly showings this winter with a schedule of eight films that explores natural facets from ocean noise pollution to the Federal Duck Stamp program.

WGCU's Mullet: A Tale of Two Fish and a biologists' presentation of Sonic Sea are among the highlights of this year's series.
"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society hosts the free film showings in the "Ding" Darling Visitor & Education Center with sponsorship from Sanibel-Captiva Beach Resorts.
Seating is limited and READ MORE
This hand-made aluminum sculpture was recently donated to the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society to raise important conservation support for the Refuge. It will be on display at the Refuge just before Christmas and stay there until the night of the event where it will be auctioned to find a new place to call home.

Renowned artist Jim Sprankle will once again be carving a feather to benefit the Refuge

A hand-carved Jim Sprankle owl feather pin and life-size aluminum alligator-heron sculpture by artist Michael Mistler are already on the live auction block for the Go Wild for "Ding" - Give a Hoot fundraiser on February 8, 2017. REGISTER NOW before the limited number of reservations are filled. For more information on Go Wild, CLICK HERE.

New DDWS Board Members

Brett Gooch
Phyllis Gresham
At its annual meeting on December 7, "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society elected four members to the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society Board of Directors. Incumbent member Mike Baldwin was re-elected for another term, and three new members will join the Board: Brett Gooch, Phyllis Gresham, and Bill Valerian.

Don Wildman
New Emeritus Members
Membership elected two new members to the Emeritus Board.
Jim Scott
ylaws allow for the election of up to two Emeritus Board members each year. "To be an Emeritus, a candidate has to have served on the board for at least six years and have made an outstanding contribution to DDWS," said DDWS President Doris Hardy.  This year's additions - Jim Scott and Don Wildman - have been invaluable past board members."

Everglades Coalition 32nd Annual Conference: January 5-8, 2017
Sanibel Harbour Resort in Ft. Myers

The Coalition's Annual Conference seeks to raise critical, timely issues for in-depth debates in an open, accessible forum. Community leaders and political figures come to discuss their positions, pledge their support, and offer challenges to the community.   Click here for more info.
Refuge Web Cam Gets Attention

Now a part of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce Live Cams Page,the Refuge's live feed on our home page is getting lots of traffic. The Chamber reports that in October 2016 alone, click-throughs from the Chamber site to dingdarlingsociety.org are up 1351% from October 2015.

Viewer praise speaks as loudly as the figures. 
Writes Melissa Carusone: "I check the webcams a few times a day while I'm at work and it's so interesting to see the different birds....  I'm from western PA so it's so nice to be able to view the preserve in real time when I'm up here in the cold!"

With the generous support of the Gardner Families this Live Refuge Cam is possible.

Visit Our New Baby Corner

Just in time for holiday buying, our new Baby Corner carries adorable nature-themed gifts for your children and grandchildren.  
The Refuge Friends onesies comes in sizes 6-month, 12-month, 18-month, and 24-month. The design by artist Lynne Egensteiner features colorful renditions of the Refuge's wildlife creatures. They cost $19.95 each.

This soft, all-cotton, reversible blanket brings the sea to the crib for the sweetest of dreams, each $49.95. T-shirts, hats, night lights, and plush animals are all available to decorate the baby and the nursery this holiday season.  

Have a loved one planning to visit Sanibel or Captiva after the holidays?  Give them a gift card to purchase something unique from the nature store to remind them of their visit to the Refuge.  

To order your gift card or baby gifts by mail, please email Jeanne Walsh by clicking HERE or call 239-472-1100 ext. 241.  All proceeds from Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for educational programs and conservation projects.

'America's Best-Kept Secret'

Common Mure, photo by Ram Papish

Location: Along the Oregon coast, encompassing 1,853 rocks and islands

Totemic Fauna: Steller Sea Lion and Common Murre

Fun for the Family: Hike Coquille Point with its paved trail and interpretive signs.

Visitor's Tip: ALWAYS come prepared for rain.
Resident Volunteers: New & Returning

This season we are fortunate to welcome five resident volunteer couples to help with Refuge manpower shortages during peak season. Resident volunteers work at the Refuge in exchange for a spot to park and hook up their RV or trailer.
Three of our 2016-2017 couples are returning; the other two are first-timers here. In this issue, we introduce one new and one returning couple and thank them for their devotion to wildlife, nature, and the "Ding" team.

Ron and Mary Horney arrived last month from Black Water National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland for their first stint at "Ding." Ron, who as an electrical engineer before he retired, works in the maintenance department, while Mary, a former retail manager, assists Ranger Jeff Combs in overseeing the Refuge volunteer corps.
Past gigs for the native Maryland couple include Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Everglades National Park, and Willard Bay State Park in Utah. They picked "Ding" Darling for its great location, they say. "It's one of the best refuges in America, and the people are great to work with."

Jack and Patty Wettstein from Millville, New Jersey, started their seventh year with the Refuge in October. The Wettsteins have been involved with various seasonal programs at the Refuge, including Wildlife Drive and Bailey Tract tours. Jack, a former high school biology teacher, is expert on venomous reptiles and endangered species. A retired high school computer science teacher, Patty specializes in bike tours and manatees. Both lead the Calusa Shell Mound Trail program and the vegetation tour.
The Wettsteins have completed the three core modules of the Master Naturalist Program - Wetlands, Coastal, and Uplands - through the University of Florida. They have also completed the four special topics offered in the Florida Master Naturalist Program. They hold the titles of Advanced Florida Master Naturalist and Florida Master Naturalist Land Steward. They are certified as Interpretative Guides through the National Association of Interpretation.

Black skimmers are among the species whose habitat the Wulfert Road property acquisition will benefit. Photo by Terry Baldwin
Help Save 
the Island
Land Acquisition

"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society has undertaken a campaign to acquire 8.15 acres on Sanibel Island's Wulfert Road as a crucial wildlife corridor for the "Ding" Darling Refuge. We must raise $2 million in private funds to purchase the parcel, which lies between SCCF land and the Refuge. Donors have already committed $600,000 of needed funds, so the goal is to raise the remaining dollars by February 2017. If not preserved by the Refuge, the land could be developed with as many as five dwellings and READ MORE

For more information, contact DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller 
at 239-292-0566 or by email.

Photo courtesy of Sylvia Guarino
Photo courtesy of Joke Pronk

Two exciting sightings this week-on the left a Bottlenose Dolphin in Tarpon Bay, and on the right two American Bitterns spotted at the Bailey Tract. Bitterns are often hard to spot so a photo of two together is rare!

   To see more wildlife photos like these, click on our social media links:
Like us on Facebook View on Instagram
or go to the Society website to view the LIVE WEBCAM!!

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

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