March 25, 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 South Carolina or New York, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat while you are staying safe at home. 

Thank you to Peg d'Entremont for sharing this image of bluebirds from York, Maine.

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.
Main Bailey Tract Lot Reopened

Welcome back to the Bailey Tract main entrance.
The re-shelling of the main parking lot at Bailey Tract has been completed, and it has reopened to public use on Tarpon Bay Road. The lot had closed for a few weeks for the improvements.

Click the logos above to learn how to support conservation at the refuge in your estate plans or how to become an OMG member!
Go Wild 
for Jeopar-Ding Tickets
Still on Sale

This year, in the spirit of creativity and accessibility, DDWS is reinventing the ninth annual Go Wild for "Ding" fundraiser in an original virtual format. Tickets are still available for Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at 6 p.m.  If you can't watch the private, ticketed premier on the 31st, ticketholders will be able to watch at a later date. Tickets begin at $25 and go up to $750, all to support conservation education. 
Host and contestants with DDWS Development Officers Sierra Hoisington and April Boehnen. Kudos to April for creating a fun, original event.
A playful rendition of everyone's favorite longtime TV game show, classic Jeopardy, Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding brings hostess and Artist-in-Residence Rachel Pierce to the 
screen with three local celebrities to compete in categories about READ MORE.

Lecture Series Videos

The 2021 Lecture Series has ended in success, with attendees feeling safe because of our
temporary larger venue and distancing measures. If you were unable to attend any of the lectures, just head to our web page for links to recorded videos and recognition of our lecture sponsors. The lecture series would not be possible without our sponsors.  A BIG thank you to those individuals, businesses and organizations who sponsored the lectures.  We look forward to bringing our lecture series back to the Refuge in 2022, so stay tuned. 
Save Our Refuges: Help Increase Funding to the National Wildlife Refuge System
By Bill Harkey, DDWS Advocacy Committee Member

Bottom line upfront: We need your help!
If you are reading this, it's a safe bet that you hold the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge in high regard. Now, ask yourself: "What do I really like about "Ding"?" Is it Wildlife Drive? Is it the Visitor & Education Center? Is it the lectures and films? Maybe the educational programs or special tours? Now, how you would feel if one or all those things about "Ding" were no longer available? READ MORE.
Friday, April 2: Artist in Residence Journal Walks

Fort Myers artist Rachel Pierce leads Journal Art Walks to the Wildlife Education Boardwalk.
The season's final Artist-in-Residence Journal Walks with Rachel Pierce happen Friday, April 2, at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and noon. To ensure social distancing, the tours are limited to 10 participants, so make your free reservation now. The
walks include a free journal and pencil to start your nature-sketching off. Facemasks are required.
Rachel's Pop-Up Plein-Air Demos along Wildlife Drive continue through April on the following dates: April 1, 6, 15, and 20. 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.

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

The Refuge continues 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 March 25, at 2 p.m.: Bailey Tract Tour
  • Saturday, March 27, at 10 a.m.: Guided Mindfulness Walk at Bailey Tract
  • Sunday, March 28, at 9:30 a.m.: Beach Walk
  • Monday, March 29, at 9:30 a.m.: Biking the Refuge Tour 
  • Tuesday, March 30, at 9:30 a.m.: Birding the Refuge Tour
  • Wednesday, March 31, at 11 a.m.: Common Birds of the Refuge Walk
  • Wednesday, March 31, at 2 p.m.: Endangered Species Tour  
  • Thursday, April 1, at 2 p.m.: Bailey Tract Tour
  • Friday, April 2, at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and noon: Journal Art Walk
     Intern Jessica Barry leads Mindfulness Walks on Saturdays at Bailey Tract.
           Check out our current Free Tours Flyer.

upport Conservation Education by becoming an event sponsor. 100% tax deductible. Philanthropic support in the form of sponsorships makes a big difference in what we can raise to support conservation education efforts, particularly during this time of COVID-19 and virtual events.  

Thanks to those sponsors who are already supporting our fundraising event:
Call of the Wild Sponsors

 Champion Sponsors

Guardian Sponsors

Protector Sponsors

Defender Sponsors
Repurposing Plastic Creatively

Although the latest addition to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle equation is "Refuse," there are going to be times when you are left with an otherwise one-use plastic container. A little creativity can go a long way in repurposing plastic so it doesn't end up in our landfills and waterways. suggests DIY projects such as creating a vertical garden using soda bottles and turning laundry detergent bottles into beach buckets.
March 31: Student Scholarship Deadline
Application deadline for several DDWS conservation scholarships  amounting to more than $20,000 is March 31, 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. 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
Mask Up for Safety!

Reminder: All staff, volunteers, and Tarpon Bay Explorers employees are required to wear facemasks anytime they are outside of their offices, in all indoor and outdoor public places. The Refuge requests that all visitors follow the same guidelines, wearing masks and keeping 6-feet distance on all Refuge lands and buildings including the Visitor & Education Center, restrooms, Tarpon Bay Explorers facilities, and outdoors wherever people are gathered, including the parking lot, trails, tours, boat ramp, and Wildlife Drive.
Stay up-to-date on Refuge news and events at our COVID-19 page.

'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. 

Location: 10,000 acres; Okmulgee, Oklahoma.
Totemic Fauna: Indigo Bunting, American Beaver, Scarlet Tanager.
Visitor's Tip: The refuge is open to the public for fishing, hunting, wildlife observation and photography, and interpretation and education.

Images courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Indigo Bunting; image courtesy of Dave Menke.

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Doug Albert
Tricolored Herons have recently been spotted along Wildlife Drive. When breeding, they have long, blue, filamentous plumes on their heads and necks and buff-colored ones on their backs.

To see more wildlife photos, click on our social media links:
Like us on Facebook View on Instagram View our videos on YouTube
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.
 Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding - March 31, 2021

Free Refuge ToursThrough April 11, 2021 

Virtual Film Series
 - Through April 12, 2021  

Artist-in-Residence Plein-Air Demos - Through April 20, 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 interns Julie D'Agostino and Hollis Hatfield.

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