April 15, 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. Since pandemic lockdown, the posts have become a much-anticipated feature, boosting Facebook numbers to nearly 17,000 followers. 
Whether you live on Sanibel Island or in a completely different environment in faraway places like North Carolina or North Dakota, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat.

Thank you to Kimberly Fenech for sharing this photo from Big Horn, Wyoming.
Thank you to Kathleen Colligan for this beautiful photo from Beach Lake, Pennsylvania.

Please email your nature photos so we can share them in "Ding" on the Wing and by social media. Include details about the photographer and where the photo was taken.
Click the logos above to learn how to support conservation at the Refuge in your estate plans or how to become an OMG member
TODAY: Artist-in-Residence Demo on the Patio
Fort Myers artist Rachel Pierce has two remaining pop-up demos this season. Today's (April 15) demo takes place on the Visitor & Education Center patio with a paint-along format.
The season's final Artist-in-Residence Plein-Air Pop-Up Demos continue through the month on the following dates: April 15 and 20.
The April 15 demo will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the patio of the Visitor & Education Center, where visitors can safely join in - masked and in personal groups. The April 20 demo will take place in the same time frame on Wildlife Drive.
Watch the Artist-in-Residence web page for news of other upcoming events and activities with Rachel.
Donate to support free educational and community outreach programs such as this at the Refuge.

Manatee Mural Migrates to Tice

DDWS volunteer Greg Sherer, Tice Elementary Principal Cherise Trent, Assistant Principal Katie Riemenschneider, and Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland at Tice Elementary with one of the panels
For the inaugural Refuge Artist-in-Residence program in 2019, visiting artist Ed Anderson created a manatee mural with PACE Center for Girls Lee County. Since then, it has lived in the same outdoor hallway with our America's Best Restroom award-winning facilities. Until this week: The Refuge delivered the four-panel mural on Monday, April 12, to Tice Elementary, a Title 1 school in Fort Myers. 
"The partnership began when Tice Elementary was the first school to host our Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) in February," said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland. "Ed Anderson's manatee mural will now inspire students outside in their science classroom."
This week, this year's Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce will be working on a new wildlife mural with visitors on April 15, outside, where the manatee mural was posted. With small, masked groups, Rachel will create a replacement mural that will be on display until the end of her tenure through 2021.
April 22: Earth Day at the Refuge

Refuge staff will debut a new Junior Ranger program on Earth Day
Refuge staff will carefully curate Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, for participant safety. Guides will be leading five free tours that day, limited to 10 participants each, plus two painting sessions with Artist-in-Residence Rachel Pierce and other on-your-own activities. Admission to Wildlife Drive is free to all hikers and cyclists that day. See the schedule below and register for tours and paint sessions in advance, free-of-charge.

All tours are limited to 10 visitors
7 a.m.-7 p.m. - Free admission to Wildlife Drive for cyclists and hikers
8 a.m. - Mindfulness Walk at the Bailey Tract
8:30 a.m. - Birding the Refuge
9:30 a.m. - Biking the Refuge
10 a.m. - Paint a Roseate Spoonbill with Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce
11:30 a.m. - NEW! Paint a Roseate Spoonbill with our Artist in Residence 
1 p.m. - Junior Ranger Walk
2 p.m. - Bailey Tract Walk

Ongoing outdoors - New Junior Ranger Booklet Debut: 
Complete it that day and receive a gift.

Ongoing outdoors - Pick up a compostable bag to fill with trash and return 
for a commemorative postcard.

See our FLYER for more information.

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

Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland filming with travel celebrity Samantha Brown at 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. Her Fort Myers and Sanibel segment premieres locally on Saturday, April 24, at 4:30 p.m. on WGCU. Watch your PBS listings for times and dates of the premiere and subsequent airings where you live. WGCU is hosting a virtual premiere screening, including a Q&A with Samantha, the afternoon before it airs, on Friday April 23, at 4:30 p.m. Learn more and RSVP to the virtual premiere HERE.

New Resident Volunteers

Tumpy Lewis and Connie Guinn will help with the WoW program.
"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 Connie Guinn and Tumpy Lewis to the Education Team. Connie hails from Missouri and taught school at the elementary and middle levels for 28 years, with stints also teaching early childhood and adult education.
Tumpy grew up on the rivers, swamps, and ocean in South Carolina. He started truck-driving in 1977 and retired in May 2020. The two met at a parent-teacher conference when Connie had Tumpy's son in her class.
After buying their camper about two years ago, the couple started looking into work camping gigs and found "Ding" Darling Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) positions. "It looked like a great fit," said Tumpy. "And here we are. We really love the island, and all the people we have met so far. Looking forward to helping out, and having a great time here."
"We were attracted to this volunteer position due to the fact that we both have previous experience in each of the fields they were searching for in a couple to fulfill, and this position is in beautiful, sunny Florida. On an island!" Connie said. "So far, we have really enjoyed learning about the native wildlife and the people of 'Ding' Darling have been so helpful and friendly."
Tarpon Tournament 2021
Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille has been title-sponsoring the tournament since it started in 2012.
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 have donated their 2020 fees and will kick in fees again for 2021.
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.
In its nine years of existence, the tourney has raised more than $550,000 to support education, wildlife research, and conservation efforts at the Refuge. 

Support comes entirely from the Captain's Dinner silent auction and our generous sponsors. Learn more about sponsorship and contact April to add your name to this prestigious list.  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

Food Waste: Don't Toss... Donate

On the tail of our film series finale Just Eat It earlier this week, we look again at food waste. One way you can mitigate the problem of wasted edibles and world hunger is by donating to your local food bank or pantry unexpired and non-perishable food items you won't be using.

Here in Florida, many snowbirds are clearing out their cupboards to prepare to travel back up north. A number of charitable organizations are willing to accept unopened canned and boxed food items to distribute to the hungry. On Sanibel Island, visit F.I.S.H. of San-Cap to see what the charity is accepting and where to drop off donations. Not on the island? Find a food bank near you. 

Did you know? Throwing away unused food products also wastes water and increases plastic in our waterways.
'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: 19,131 acres; Valentine, Nebraska
Totemic fauna: American Bison, Blacktail Prairie Dog, Greater Prairie Chicken
Visitor tip: Start at the visitor center, then explore further via the 3.5-mile auto tour route, scenic overlook, nature trail, and wilderness area.

American Bison

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Peter L Wallack

Mangrove Cuckoos are a fan favorite around the Refuge, even if they are only seen by a select few visitors throughout the year. Did you know, outside of its small range in Florida, the Mangrove Cuckoo can be found throughout northern Mexico, the West Indies, Central America, and South America

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.

Earth Day at the Refuge - April 22, 2021

Artist-in-Residence Exhibition - October 1 - November 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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