April 8, 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. 
Hot off the Press: Spring Newsletter

If you haven't received our Spring 2021 & Society Pages & Newsletter, you can read it online.  

To find out how to become a DDWS member and receive the quarterly newsletter by mail, visit our membership page or contact Lynnae Messina at 239-472-1100 ext. 233.
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 Cory Berish for sharing these photos of a Tundra Swans taken in Idaho.

Thank you to John Miseroy for this beautiful photo of a male Painted Bunting from his backyard in Tampa, Florida. 

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
These gifts were made to DDWS in honor of and in memory of friends and families during March 2021. Thank you to everyone who supported the Refuge in this thoughtful and meaningful way. 
Make a memorial or honor donation HERE to support the Refuge. 
April 12: Just Eat It Film Showing

Just Eat It takes viewers on a 
food-rescue mission.
How long can two people live on food destined for the trash bin? The documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story explores the implications of and solutions to expiration dates, perfect produce obsessions, portion size, and world hunger.
The ninth annual "Ding" Darling Film Series adapts to distancing and pandemic safety protocols with virtual airings and follow-up discussions via Zoom. It wraps up on Monday, April 12, with a 74-minute documentary that follows READ MORE

free reservations to view the film and participate in the post-discussion.
John E. Carney Education Fund

John Carney rarely missed manning the grill for "Ding" Darling Days.
John E. Carney was a name and a presence that will live on for ages on Sanibel Island. His widow, Fay Carney, is helping to make sure of that by establishing the permanently endowed John E. Carney Education Fund to support the educational efforts at the Refuge. A true, loyal friend of the Refuge, John began volunteering in 1996, ultimately clocking more than 2,800 hours in 11 years. His service included sitting on the board of directors for DDWS from 2000 to 2003, during which time he commandeered the "Ding" Darling Days Amateur Nature Photography Contest, now READ MORE 
Refuge donors are able to establish named, permanently endowed funds for $10,000 or more and work with DDWS staff to restrict them to their areas of interest or leave them as unrestricted. Income from the endowments can fund individual projects or ongoing education, intern, programming, research, or other specific needs. 
Friends of John's can contribute to the John E. Carney Education Fund through the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society and making note that is is in memory of John Carney. 

To contribute to or establish an endowed fund, contact Birgie at 239-472-1100 ext. 232.
Artist-in-Residence Plein-Air Demos

Fort Myers artist Rachel Pierce has two remaining pop-up demos this season. The April 15 demo has been moved to the Visitor & Education Center patio in a group paint format.
The season's final Artist-in-Residence Plein
Air Pop-Up Demos continue through April on the following dates: April 15 and 20.
The April 15 demo will be held on the patio of the Visitor & Education Center, where visitors can join in. The April 20 demo will take place 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 programs such as this at the Refuge. 
April 22: Earth Day at the Refuge

Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce is adding a second paint-along that day, where 10 participants can learn to create their own Roseate Spoonbill canvas.
Similar to how the Refuge has been operating its free seasonal tours, Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, will be carefully curated for participant safety. Guides will be leading five free tours that day, limited, as have been all our seasonal tours, 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 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.
Jeopar-Ding Went Wild!  You can still see the show!
This year, in the spirit of creativity and accessibility, DDWS reinvented the ninth annual Go Wild for "Ding" fundraiser in an original virtual format for its annual fundraiser with Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding oMarch 31. Thanks to John & Kathy McCabe and Bill & Diane Valerian for donating $10,000 as a challenge grant the evening of the premiere. We exceeded the challenge that evening with a total of $11,500, making the event's take-home nearly $100,000 from our generous sponsors (see below), ticket sales and gifts in support of conservation education at the Refuge. We continue to offer access to the show to those who missed the premiere (see below), with a goal of raising an additional $6,000 (or more!) toward education needs.

You missed the premiere of Jeopar-Ding? No worries, you can still make a gift of $25 or more and watch the entertaining quiz show with answers and questions geared toward Sanibel Island and the Refuge. 
WoW Visits Diplomat Elementary

Last week our Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) urban mobile classroom visited Diplomat Elementary School in Cape Coral. This week it is educating students with hands-on exhibits inside and outside at Ray V. Pottorf Elementary in Fort Myers.
Donate to support the refuge education mission to reach students of all ages to learn about the importance of preserving and protecting our natural lands and the wildlife who need them to survive.   
Important Updates and a Critical Call to Action
by Jim Metzler, DDWS Advocacy Committee Co-Chair

As described in this article, the threats to our water resources continue to grow, while some of the opportunities to improve those resources are within our grasp. In addition to discussing some of the threats and opportunities, this article begins with a call to action on a topic that is critical to all of us - the funding of the national wildlife refuges. READ MORE 
Learn more about making your voice heard to protest National Wildlife Refuge System budget-cutting.
In Case You Missed It 
A bill to repeal a controversial plan to build three new toll roads (MCORES) through mostly rural and environmentally sensitive lands along Florida's west coast passed the Florida Senate.  See more.
Meeting with Congressman Donalds

DDWS Board President Sarah Ashton (front center) and Refuge Manager Kevin Godsea (back far right) were among the delegation of local organizations and businesses who met with Byron Donalds (back, second to the right) the U.S. Representative for Florida's 19th District, earlier this 
DDWS President Sarah Ashton speaks to the congressman about regulating Lake Okeechobee releases.
week. The group took the congressman into Tarpon Bay waters to discuss local water quality issues. Donalds later met for a round-table luncheon with a larger island group to hear attendees' concerns. "I'm really at your disposal," Byrons told those gathered. "That's my job.... The government does need to fix our waterways, because they created the problem." Special thanks to the Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce, SCCF,  City of Sanibel, Captain's for Clean Water, Tarpon Bay Explorers and others for making this visit possible.  

Sponsorships are a vital component of a successful event and please thank those listed below for becoming sponsors for this new virtual event. 

Call of the Wild Sponsors

 Champion Sponsors

Guardian Sponsors



Protector Sponsors

Defender Sponsors
Free Refuge Seasonal Tours

Join guides for a Sunday Beach Walk.

The Refuge continues through April 11 to offer socially distanced tours of 10 people or less. There's no set schedule, so monitor the Eventbrite page to see what staff and volunteers are currently offering and to sign up for tours. Please bring your own binoculars and scopes.
Upcoming Tours:
TODAY, April 8, at 2 p.m.: Bailey Tract Tour 
Friday, April 9, at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and noon: Journal Art Walk 
Saturday, April 10, at 10 a.m.: Guided Mindfulness Walk at Bailey Tract
Sunday, April 11, at 9:30 a.m.: Beach Walk
Check out our current Free Tours Flyer.
Food Waste: Don't Toss... Donate

Again, this week, as we queue up our film series finale Just Eat It, we look 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? CLICK to find a food bank near you. 

April 14: Student Scholarship Deadline Extended

Application deadline for several DDWS conservation scholarships amounting to more than $20,000 total is April 14, 2021. Ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 each, the scholarships are available to 
high school seniors, college students, and graduate students in or from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties pursuing degrees in environmental-related studies may apply. DDWS will award the scholarships at a special ceremony at the Refuge in June 2021, if prevailing pandemic guidelines permit.

Now in its 15th year, the DDWS scholarship program has awarded more than $147,000 to date. Interested students can find more information and printable
application forms. READ MORE 

'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: 891 acres; Cedar Key, Florida
Totemic fauna: Roseate Spoonbill, Brown Pelican, White Ibis
Visitor tip: Visitors access the refuge by kayak, tour boat, or private or rented vessels. Walking along the beaches and along the trails to the 19th century remains of the village Atsena Otie is allowed, but visitors must stay out of the marked nesting rookeries in the islands' interiors.

Juvenile White Ibis
Roseate Spoonbills

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Peg d'Entremont
The Sora is a secretive marsh bird that is not often seen. Luckily, Peg and husband Chuck were able to spot one at the Bailey Tract and send us this amazing photo. The best advice any birder can give to another is to be patient - you never know what might show up!

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.
Free Refuge ToursThrough April 11, 2021 

Virtual Film Series
 - Through April 12, 2021  

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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