May 6, 2021
In This Issue
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 Vermont or Arizona, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat.

Thank you to Peg d'Entremont from York, Maine.

Thank you to Kerry Pitcher from 
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

Please email your nature photos so we can share them with others. Include details about the photographer and where the photo was taken.
Summer Fees for Wildlife Drive

Your fee-booth vehicle admission buys three days of visiting this summer.
Admission fees for Wildlife Drive remain the same after season's end. The $10 vehicle fee, however, holds good for three days of admission starting annually on May 1 and running through September. Keep your receipt to show at the entrance fee booth upon returning. Daily fees for cyclists and pedestrians are still $1 each visit for ages 16 and older.

Places to Love: Samantha Brown at 'Ding'
Samantha Brown interviewed Ranger Toni on the Wildlife Education Boardwalk.
In November, broadcast travel celebrity Samantha Brown visited the Refuge as part of her season four Samantha Brown's Places to Love series for PBS Public Television. She spent the day with Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland and was deeply impressed with her and the Refuge.
Samantha's Fort Myers and Sanibel segment premiered on WGCU April 24. In case you missed it, here's a link to the trailer and 26-minute show.
Donors who made gifts to DDWS in honor of and in memory of friends and families during April 2021. Thank you to everyone who supported the Refuge in this thoughtful and meaningful ways. Make a memorial or honor donation here.

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

Click the logos to learn how to support conservation at the Refuge in your estate plans or how to become an OMG member.
New Resident Volunteers
Rick Herbst and Christine Columbus arrived at the Refuge mid-April.

"Ding" Darling offers a Resident Volunteer program to help with its staff shortfalls. Volunteers receive space and hook-ups for their RVs in exchange for their hours spent helping with maintenance, education, and visitor services.
This month, we welcome Christine Columbus, who is working with visitor services, and Rick Herbst, working in maintenance, to the team. Both grew up around Minneapolis, Minnesota, and attended the same high school.
The couple has been RVing full time for five years and has volunteered at Bonneville Lock and Dam and Wallowa Lake State Park in Oregon. The past three summers have found them at Blackhawk Park on the Mississippi River in De Soto, Wisconsin. They also spent seven months at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia.
"As for our favorite, like any parent, we would say 'We don't have a favorite.' But we do, and it's 'Ding,' said Christine, who has 20 years of experience in office work and is an occupational therapy assistant. Rick has retired after 24 years in the U.S. Army.
"The most amazing thing about 'Ding' is the people," Christine said. "Everyone is so welcoming, helpful, and gracious."

Tarpon Tournament 2021
The Ninth Annual "Ding" Darling & Doc Ford's Tarpon Tournament takes place May 14, after being postponed from the 2020 date because of COVID-19. That means prize purses are twice the original size this time around, as all 55 teams allowed their 2020 fees to roll over into this year and also paid the 2021 entry fees. Although the tournament is sold out, teams can add their names to the waiting list by contacting April Boehnen. Fee for a new team of four is $1,000 this year.
More than $1/2 million raised to support conservation at the Refuge! In its nine years of existence, the tourney has raised more than $550,000 to support education, wildlife and water research, and conservation efforts at the Refuge. 

Support comes from our generous sponsors. Learn more about sponsorship and contact April to add your name to this prestigious list. 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

                    Renewable Energy
A sign in the Visitor & Education Center parking lot explains the benefit of solar power conversion.

Congratulations to the state of California for hitting - though fleeting - a near 95% renewable energy milestone late last month. Wind farms and solar power contributed primarily to the drop in reliance on fossil fuels. Read about it in a recent edition of the Los Angeles Times.
It's never too late to install solar panels on your home or business. Solar systems installed this year receive a 22% tax credit. (Solar tax credits are scheduled to expire in 2022 unless Congress renews them.) In 2015, DDWS created SanCap Solar Connect, a community program that benefited the islands through collective buying power.   In addition to the Refuge, several businesses and a number of homeowners converted to green solar energy in a little over a year's time.  There are many other opportunities to join solar co-ops around the country.  One is the Southwest Florida  Solar Co-Op and see if your home is suitable for installing solar panels. 

'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.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Location: 9,250 acres; Virginia Beach, Virginia
Totemic fauna: Osprey, Canada Goose, Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Visitor tip: Starting in April, the Blue Goose Tram runs tours of the refuge Friday through Sunday. Reservations are required. 

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Jim Bennight

The first Yellow-crowned Night-Heron chicks hatched this week at the Refuge along the Wildlife Education Boardwalk. Big shoutout to Jim Bennight for capturing this shot of these adorable chicks. 

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.

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.
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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