Reflections newsletter is a benefit of membership for Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. It also serves as an important supplement to
the Friends' web site, www.stmarksrefuge.org. 
Both the newsletter and the web site provide members and the public information about volunteer activities and events at the Refuge.
2017 Annual Meeting - April 29
You won't want to miss it!
We have a great afternoon planned for members of the Friends' group. The Annual Meeting will be led by Mary Smallwood, President of the Friends' Board of Directors. As always, accomplishments made by the Friends' group will be reviewed, plans for the upcoming year will be discussed, and friends will have the opportunity to connect with each other and the Refuge once again.  You won't want to miss the April 29 Annual Meeting. Food and refreshments will be provided.

Graphic Credit Courtesy Rita LeBlanc

Celebrating 30 Years of Support 
for the Refuge 
This year marks the 30th year that the Friends have been providing support for the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.    

Lighthouse Keeper's House Resident
Visits the Refuge

Just a few weeks ago, Albert M. Kudrick visited the Refuge from Pittsburgh, PA. In a conversation he had with Refuge Senior Ranger, Gail Fishman, Albert shared memories from 60 years ago when he was a small boy, and he and his parents lived in the Keeper's House adjacent to the lighthouse. Albert's father, Albert Kudrick, was the keeper of the light in the late 1950s.

Albert was three years-old in 1957, which marked the first of three years that he and his family occupied the house at the base of the light tower. Albert's family was one of the last in the lighthouse history to live there to maintain the light.

Importantly, Albert brought three scrapbooks of photos his family had  kept from the time they lived there. "The photos help me remember some of that time so vividly," Albert said. "At that age, it's hard to recall everything, but I have a strong memory of the remoteness of where we lived, and that it was a wonderful place to start out your life. I remember when my father might be cleaning the lens above, and he would have me sweep the tower stairs or perform other small chores (left). For someone so little, I felt as if I had 'grown-up' work to do to help him."

The photo at top is very instructive for current research on the Keepers' House. Albert is seen in the foreground with his mother, and in the background, a tidy yard is evident, skirted by a bright picket fence. A screened-in porch area is obvious in the background, and off to the right, you can see an additional small Coast Guard building that served as quarters for a very young couple who also lived here at that time.

Information about exactly how the four rooms of the Keeper's House  functioned has always been just a bit sketchy over time. But, at least in this late 1950s period, several photos in Albert's scrapbooks show the room layout and how each was decorated at the time. The end room (farthest North) was where everyone gathered for cooking purposes and family meals (at right, Albert sits on the window ledge with his father).

Though things have changed with the lighthouse over time, Albert said that some things were about what we'd expect today. "There were a lot of snakes (Albert Kudrick with what appears to be a large rattle snake at left) to contend with.  My mother was not too keen on that.  And, there was one really large alligator that we would see - someone had given him the name, Moe, or Big Moe. We'd see him quite a bit. It was an interesting time for a young boy," he said. 

Article, editor;
Photos courtesy Albert Kudrick family

 Beautyberry Natural Insect Repellent
  Beautyberry: Callicarpa americana 
Beautyberry is a regal bush that is leafing out right now in many yards. You can take advantage of the plant's chemistry and make some natural insect repellent for you and your pets.
The beautyberry leaves and twigs can be used to make a natural and effective insect repellent. It's easy and it's free. Farmers have known for a long time to tuck the leaves under mules' harnesses to repel biting insects. And it still works today!
In 2006, researchers at the U.S.D.A found that extracts from beautyberry leaves could match DEET for repelling mosquitoes. One extract in particular, called callicarpenal, showed promising results against mosquitoes, fire ants, and ticks. In all, there are three chemicals in beautyberry leaves that are currently being studied.
The bright cerise berries that appear in the Fall are astringent if eaten raw and it is advised to eat only a few at a time. Reportedly, the berries have been used to make an exceptionally good jelly. That's if there are any left after the squirrels, mockingbirds and catbirds have taken their share.
How to Make Beautyberry Natural Insect Repellent
  • 1-2 Cups crushed leaves and twigs
  • Put in a quart jar and fill with boiling water. Cover and let sit overnight. Strain. Add 2 drops of liquid dish soap (to assist in dispersal)
  • Pour into sprayer
Using this spray will provide protection for about 3 hours. So reapplication will be necessary. Mosquitoes will fly around you but they will not land on you. This is also good for your pets. There are recipes that call for rubbing alcohol instead of water, but this is not necessary and just adds to the cost.

It is easy to make a large batch of the repellent early in the bug season, and it will last for several months. If you make this recipe in the Fall, do not use the berries as they might stain.
You can also rub crushed leaves onto your skin or on your pets for a shorter acting repellent.  
Article and photos courtesy Susan Cason     

Beneath Old Lighthouse Flooring Lies
Valuable Information and Artifacts
Rick Kanaski, USFWS Historic Preservation Officer, was at the lighthouse March 6 - 8 pulling up the floors and screening the rubble and fill beneath floors prior to major renovations this summer.  Two historic layers of wood flooring were found below the US Coast Guard plywood and old linoleum.  Some pieces of these coverings had writing on them and members of the Steering Committee were able to trace the origin of the floors from that discovery. 

An old bottle was found beneath the north-end room (or 'room 4' as it is being called).  Mr. Kanaski has taken the bottle temporarily to identify the manufacturer, time period and possible use.  Items such as this will be important as future museum exhibits are installed to tell 'the story' of the lighthouse and those who lived here in the Keepers' House.

Article and photos courtesy Tom Baird , vice-president of the Friends' Board of Directors        

Watercolor Your World
A FREE, Basic and Intermediate, Watercolor Class, April 22 
Whether your interest in wildlife involves landscape scenes, birds, trees, leaves, flowers or all of the above, join Friends' Board of Directors' member, Phillip Pollock, as he leads beginner and intermediate art students through some basic watercolor concepts. In keeping with your interests, the class takes place on Earth Day, no less. How appropriate is that? Join in the fun as this class will involve a bit less instruction, and a lot more participant painting. Call the (850) 925-6121 to sign up and receive the course description. There are only about three spaces available, so call now.

Updates From the Nursery 

" We're on a 2-week hiatus from milkweed work at the Refuge nursery,  but with over 3,000 seeds already sown in several full day sessions, much progress has already been made.  In fact, we ran out of room for flats in the greenhouse last week, and had to move some of the flats with "precocious" germinating Redring Milkweed ( Asclepias variegata) to the shaded benches outside." 
Dedicated Refuge Volunteer 

Photos courtesy Milkweed Volunteer

Refuge News

Saturday, May 13 - Introduction to Volunteering
at St. Marks NWR

This program is being offered for existing volunteers and potential volunteers who have submitted an application and it runs from
9 am - 11 am.  The session focuses on the mission of St. Marks NWR, how the volunteer program is set up, and current volunteer needs.  Please call (850) 925-6121 to reserve your space. This session is required training for volunteering at St. Marks NWR.

Taking It On the Road

In the recent Springtime Tallahassee Parade, the St. Marks NWR float, constructed by the Refuge Fire Crew, displays the many attractions / activities available at the Refuge. Thank you fire crew for representing us so well!  Photo courtesy, Sue Conte, Friends' Board of Directors.

Family Fishing Day

May 6
This will be the first time this activity has been offered in over a decade, so join us that day.  Call (850) 925-6121 for more information.  
Have you considered including the Refuge in your will?  We would appreciate hearing from you if so. The Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge can provide information and guide you through the process. Just call the Refuge at 850-925-6121, and ask to be contacted by the Friends' Development Committee, or email us.

Reflections Editor, Phillip M. Pollock