May 27, 2021
In This Issue
We support the Sanibel & Captiva Island Chamber of Commerce and other partners in their call to action to demand that the Army Corps of Engineers include a more equitable distribution of balance in its new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). Take action today in support of cleaner waters for the Refuge and Southwest Florida. We are all in this together!

The DDWS staff has been busy bringing the healing sunshine and beauty of the Refuge to the public through 30-second social media videos. Follow on Facebook to see our #DailyDoseofDing, brief virtual visits to the Refuge for those who can't make it. 
Whether you live on Sanibel Island or in a completely different environment in faraway places like Minneapolis or British Columbia, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat.
Thank you to Laila Walzer from the Eastern Catskills.

Please email your nature photos so we can share them with others. Include details about the photographer and where the photo was taken.
Thank you to Allison Kelly for this photo taken in Palm Bay, FL.
Erika featured our award-winning Learning Lavatories on Facebook and her website.
What Fuels You?
In partnership with the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Erika Gilsdorf, creator of, visited "Ding" Darling to conduct interviews with volunteers and staff. Check out the website and Facebook to read and hear her "Ding" stories. 
Tarpon Bay Remains OPEN during Parking 
Lot Improvements 
Construction has begun on upgrades to the parking lot at the Refuge's Tarpon Bay Recreation Area. Improvements will make the lot more easily navigable and launching vessels more accessible. Tarpon Bay Explorers, the Refuge recreation concession, will remain open during reconstruction. The ramp will close to motorized launches during a time frame to be determined. Stay tuned to "Ding" on the Wing for updates.
Doc Ford's co-owner Marty Harrity (far left) and DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller (far right) award Team Tarpon Time members Ryan Clase, Eric Davis, captain Tanner Miller, and Stephanie Miller for first place. See 2021 tourney rankings.
Tarpon Tourney Earnings

The ninth annual "Ding" Darling & Doc Ford's Tarpon Tournament on May 14 netted $180,000 from tournament sponsorships and donations, proceeds to benefit the Refuge.
Earnings combined sponsor contributions from 2020 with this year's for a record-breaking contribution to benefit Refuge conservation.
To date, the tournament has raised nearly $755,000 for Refuge water research, wildlife research, and education. It has awarded $261,724 to tournament winning teams during its nine-year history. 

"We can't thank Doc Ford's enough for their incredible show of support these past nine years," said DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller. "They've already committed for the 2022 tourney, which will take place on May 13, to celebrate the tournament's 10th anniversary."

The 2021 tournament paid out $56,500 in prizes to five out of 55 registered teams. When the 2020 tournament was postponed for a year, the purse essentially doubled as teams received the opportunity to secure a guaranteed coveted spot on this year's roster by allowing their 2020 entry fee to roll over to 2021. By then also paying the 2021 fee, they fed into the largest payout in the history of the tournament.
"Because all boat registration fees go into the awards purse, sponsorship partners are extremely important to this tournament," said Birgie. "They make it possible to raise vital financial support for the conservation mission of DDWS and the Refuge. A big thanks to all of our sponsors." (See sponsors list, below.)

See more 2021 tourney pictures.
Remember, profits from all Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for 
educational programs, wildlife research, and overall conservation efforts.

Free Summer Tours

Watch our events page to sign up for Birding the Refuge and other free weekly tours.
Free summer Refuge tours run from June 20 through August 7 this year. There's no set schedule, so monitor our Eventbrite page to see what staff and volunteers are offering each week and to sign up for tours such as Birding the Refuge car caravan tour, Mindfulness Walk at Bailey Tract, Bike Tour, and Beach Walk. Please bring sunscreen, water, and your own binoculars and scopes.
Check out our Summer Tours Flyer.
Farewell to Joann
Last week, DDWS and Refuge staff joined to bid farewell and wish good luck to Joann Hinman upon her retirement. Joann came out of an earlier retirement to begin working part-time at the Refuge Nature Store in 2016. Shortly thereafter, she moved up in ranks to become our full-time Business Office Manager. 
"A huge thanks to Joann, who was a real godsend when she agreed to serve as our Business Office Manager and help clean-up and streamline our processes," said DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller.  She will be missed. 
Hollis Hatfield
Intern Thank-You

Former DDWS Development & Communications Intern Hollis Hatfield relayed her gratitude for the experience in this thank-you letter.
To the 'Ding' Darling Wildlife Society, 
  I am beyond grateful for the skills I learned while working as a Development and Communications Intern. I learned how to design graphics, manage social media accounts, and plan READ MORE 
Learn about Refuge internship programs. DDWS supports more than a dozen interns each year. Your donations help with this important program.

Paid Maintenance Worker Position
The Refuge is seeking a full-time maintenance worker for a term of at least 13 months, which could be extended to up to four years. Read more
Tarpon Tournament 2021

The "Ding" Darling & Doc Ford's Tarpon Tournament has raised more than $750,000 to support conservation at the Refuge in its nine years of existence. Education, wildlife and water research, and overall conservation efforts at the Refuge have benefited from the money raised from this tournament. 

Support comes from our generous sponsors. Sponsorships and donations are the ONLY way the tournament raises philanthropic support. Please say thank you to these businesses and individuals for their support of conservation. 
                                              Title Sponsor

Starting Position

Champion Sponsors


Presenting Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors
Captain Shawn Kelly Charters

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Support the Tarpon Tournament with a gift today and impact the conservation work at the Refuge.  
Chris Gutierrez

Former DDWS Development & Communications Intern Chris Gutierrez recently checked in with us to report his new position as Senior Development Specialist at the Phoenix Zoo.
"I'm so excited to get out to Arizona and fundraise for a wildlife conservation organization," he writes. "My passion is conservation, protecting animals on the verge of extinction, and doing everything in my power to ensure future generations can go to Africa and see a wild Rhino, Elephant, or Lion, instead of just reading about them in books or seeing pictures. Future generations should be able to walk the Sonoran Desert and find holes in cactuses housing Pygmy Owls. Biodiversity does not just benefit the animals, it also benefits people. There is so much to learn from these species and very little time to save them."
Congratulations, Chris, and the best of luck following your passion. Know the whereabouts of a "Ding" Intern Alumnus? Please contact Lynnae. 
Solar panels on the "Ding" Darling Visitor & Education Center keep electricity usage and costs low.
11 Ways to Lower A/C Use this Summer 

1. Upgrade your windows7. Reduce the sunlight 
2. Seal your windows8. Insulate your walss and attics
3. Install a programmable thermostat9. Find lower ground
4. Use ceiling fans10. Get your air conditioning serviced
5. Replace your HVAC air filters11.  Install solar panels
6. Avoid cooking indoorsSource
Wood Ducks
'America's Best-Kept Secret'
In each issue of "Ding" on the Wing, we showcase one of the more than 
560 refuges across the U.S.A. that is open to the public. 
Images courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Location: 10,780 acres; Wapello, Iowa

Totemic fauna: Wood Duck, Spiny Softshell Turtle, Indigo Bunting

Spiny Softshell Turtle
Visitor tip: To explore the refuge, stop by the overlook at the Muscatine Slough parking lot, hike the trails near the office, or bring your canoe and paddle to Odessa Water Trail.


Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Rebecca Clemens

A few River Otters have been spotted along Indigo Trail this past week. They are a fun species to observe because they are very curious and love to investigate new things. 

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 at the Refuge, send them to Development Officer Sierra Hoisington for a chance to be featured in upcoming newsletters.
Monitor our COVID-19 page for news of event cancellations or reschedules.
WoW Refuge Visit - June 2, 2021

Free Summer Programs - June 20-August 7, 2021

Great American Outdoors Day - August 4, 2021

Artist-in-Residence Exhibition - October 1 - November 10, 2021

"Ding" Darling Day - October 10, 2021

Niki Butcher Photographic Exhibition - November 15 - December 31, 2021. Sponsored by Wayne & Linda Boyd.

Ding's Wild Daze Beer Rollout - December 4, 2021 (tentative)

These are just snapshots of some of the things taking place at your Wildlife Refuge. Please check our website to learn more!

Birgit Miller, Executive Director

"Ding" On The Wing composed by Chelle Koster Walton.  Designed by Sierra Hoisington & April Boehnen. 

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