July 22, 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 #DarlingDoseofDing, 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 North Carolina or Texas, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat.
Thank you to
Peter Dominowski from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Thanks to Laila Walzer from Mount Tremper, New York.

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

*~* Free *~*
Summer Tours

Free summer Refuge tours continue through August 7. With no set schedule, monitor our Eventbrite page to see what staff and
Join Intern Jess, the Refuge's mindfulness expert, on a guided tour of Bailey Tract.
volunteers are offering each week and to sign up for tours such as children's programs, nature art activities, 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
Tune into 'Life on the Wildside'
Starting tomorrow, Friday, July 23, Bally Sports channels will air segments about the Refuge and "Ding" Darling & Doc Ford's Tarpon Tournament , titled "Life on the Wildside." Tune into Bally Sports Direct TV 653, Charter Channels 31 or 39, or Dish 434, or head to your local sports bar in Florida on July 23 at 4 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m., and Tuesday at 4 p.m. to watch. Segments will also air throughout the coming weeks.
A beautiful shot of a Roseate Spoonbill taken 
by Jim Bennight.
Decision Time on LOSOM
by Jim Metzler, DDWS Advocacy Committee Co-Chair

     In a recent article, we described how the Army Corps was in the final stages of establishing a new schedule to control releases out of Lake Okeechobee referred to as LOSOM (Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual). In the last month, we have written multiple letters to the corps to advocate for choosing a plan that would be beneficial to the J. N. "Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Earlier this week, the corps announced the plan they will use to form the basis of LOSOM. In our last letter to the corps, we recommended that it use that particular plan, but we also pointed out several deficiencies in that plan that would have a significant negative impact on the Refuge.
     Over the next week, we will work with our partners to determine the best way to influence the corps to make the changes to the plan to protect our area from massive releases of potentially dirty water.
July 17-25: Latino Conservation Week 
The seventh annual nationwide Latino Conservation Week strives to break down barriers to the outdoors and inspire tomorrow's stewards. "Ding" Darling has been striving toward the same goals for many years by reaching out to local Latino communities with classroom and day camp visits to the Refuge and by taking our Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) mobile classroom to them. Bilingual educators and materials and even Latino music at "Ding" Darling Days past have helped us bridge that gap between 
Latina visitor Laura Escoto of Fort Myers (front) recently paddled Commodore Creek at Tarpon Bay Explorers with friends.
nature and Latino residents. Former bilingual intern Alfredo Carbajal represented 
"Ding" Darling on a U.S. Fish & Wildlife presentation to honor the weeklong initiative. See this Spanish video (with subtitles) he recorded. It posted on Youtube this week, thanks to summer videography intern Sam Warren.
Latino Conservation Week: Welcome to Ding!
Latino Conservation Week: Welcome to Ding!
Efforts to engage our Latino community continue, and we invite all our Latino friends to visit the Refuge, especially this week, and throughout the year.
Save the Date: 'Ding' Darling Day Migrates to Outreach Mode

To further its mission to reach and connect with underserved urban communities, the Refuge migrates its 33rd annual "Ding" Darling Days  celebration to Lakes Park in Fort Myers on October 10, 2021. The Refuge and DDWS have been keeping in sync with the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, a national refuge system-wide initiative to encourage community 
connection. The Wildlife on Wheels (WoW)project was the first big step that Refuge educators took toward spreading the word beyond Refuge borders about conservation. WoW will be at the center of the free "Ding" Darling Day @ Lakes Park. Besides tours of the classroom, the Refuge and DDWS have planned a full day of READ MORE 

Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) tours, guided hikes, and other family activities will introduce the greater community to the Refuge on October 10.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, DDWS, and  Tarpon Bay Explorers cosponsor "Ding" Darling Day with generous support from the local community and businesses. 

DDWS seeks sponsors 
for the event, which will be highly publicized throughout the Southwest Florida area. Contact  April Boehnen at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 for more information. 

Sponsors to Date:

Great Egret Level

Great Blue Heron

Reddish Egret

Snowy Egret

Exclusive Clyde Butcher 

Get 'em before they sell out! Clyde Butcher's exclusive, signed calendars for 2022 are available at both Nature Store locations and online. The calendars were printed in the U.S.A. and showcase a dozen of Clyde's most stunning nature black-and-white photographs from his recent collection shot between 2014 and 2020. For more information, call 239-472-1100 ext. 241.
Remember, profits from all Nature Store sales  
go directly to the Refuge for educational programs, wildlife research, and overall conservation efforts.
August 4: Colorblind Scope Unveiling on Great American Outdoors Day
This graphic shows a Refuge scene as a colorblind person sees it (bottom) as opposed to a normal-vision viewer (top).
Among the 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, the "Ding" Darling will be the first to expand its accessibility initiatives to include a spotting scope for colorblind visitors. The scope, specially manufactured by SeeCoast with EnChroma's patented lens technology for color blindness, will be unveiled at the Wildlife Drive observation tower on Wednesday, August 4. EnChroma glasses will also permanently be available at the Refuge for guests with color vision deficiency to borrow during visits.
August 4 marks the newly declared Great American Outdoors Day in honor of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act in August 2020. Admission to the Refuge's Wildlife Drive will be free to all that day. Refuge staff will unveil its new colorblind scope at 10 a.m. The public is READ MORE 
In the 2020 photo contest, first place went to Ellen Trevor of Sanibel, Fla., for her great egret portrait titled "Carry Out Lunch."
       'Ding' Day Photo Contest Opens
July 15 marked the opening of the 29th annual "Ding" Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest. Deadline for submission is September 15, 2021. All entries must be submitted electronically. Cash award prizes are $300 for first place, $225 for second, and $175 for third.
The contest, sponsored by DDWS, is held in conjunction with "Ding" Darling Day on October 10. For an entry form and other contest information, visit the contest web page. Complete contest rules are listed READ MORE

Bill and Laurie Harkey established an endowment early on as they saw the growing need for Refuge support and the value of knowing that this support would always be there for future planning purposes.
Invest in Conservation: Endowed Funds

We are grateful for a number of newly established endowed funds that donors have set up in recent months to honor family members and friends and support the Refuge into the future. A gift of $10,000 or more can establish an endowment that will leave a legacy and make future sustainability possible in uncertain times. Investing in the future of conservation at the Refuge through an endowed fund ensures long-term, permanent support. Currently, DDWS has 17 named endowed funds with several more in the works.  To learn more, contact Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4.

YCC Summer Help

Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) student Holt Rieck reported for work this summer at the Refuge. The homeschooled student has been assisting fulltime with maintenance and administration tasks. The federal YCC program targets young men and women, ages 15 through 18, to provide them with a valuable work-earn-learn experience. To learn more, contact Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland.
Drivers, hikers, and cyclists get three days' admission for their summer entry fees.
Summer Fees for Wildlife Drive

Did you know your entrance fee to the Wildlife Drive and Indigo Trail ($10 vehicle and $1 hiker/biker) is good for admission on three consecutive open days through September 30? Keep your stamped receipt to show the fee booth for reentry. Remember: Wildlife Drive is closed Fridays. If one of your free reentry days falls on a Friday, your receipt is good until the date with which it is stamped.
August 5: FREE "Paint with Rachel" 

On Thursday, August 5, DDWS Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce leads a Painting on the Patio outdoors at the Visitor & Education Center. Paint back-to-school tote bags at two
different sessions starting at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Participation is limited to 10 pre-registered guests for each session.
Watch the Artist-in-Residence web page for news of other upcoming activities with Rachel, including an exhibition of her refuge-inspired artwork this fall.
Donate to support free educational programs such as this at the Refuge.
11 Ways to Lower A/C Use this Summer 


1. Upgrade your windows.
2. Seal your windows.
3. Install a programmable thermostat.
4. Use ceiling fans.
5. Replace your HVAC air filters.


6. Avoid cooking indoors.
Solar panels on the "Ding" Darling Visitor & Education Center keep electricity usage and costs low.
7. Reduce the sunlight.
8. Insulate your walls and attics.
9. Find lower ground.
10. Get your air conditioning system serviced.
11. Install 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
Location: 7,664 acres; 30 miles southwest of Amarillo, Texas

Totemic fauna: Black-tailed Prairie Dog, Burrowing Owl, Golden Eagle

Visitor tip: The headquarters/visitor center can provide maps, brochures, and checklists to assist with your visit. Hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and photography are popular activities. 

Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Burrowing Owl

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Peg d'Entremont

Black-crowned Night Herons sometimes hang out along Wildlife Drive looking for a tasty snack. They most typically forage in the evening and at night, but, if you're lucky, you may see them during the day.

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.
Free Summer Programs - Through August 7, 2021

Artist-in-Residence Exhibition - October 1 - November 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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