March 4, 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. The posts have become a much-anticipated feature, boosting Facebook numbers to nearly 16,000 followers. 
Whether you live on Sanibel Island or in a completely different environment in faraway places, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat while you are staying safe at home. 
Thank you to Lesley Husband for sharing these images of Groundhogs from their backyard in Neptune, New Jersey.

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.
Anhinga photo by David Jeffrey
Refuge, Lee County School District Collaboration

In February, the Refuge and DDWS learned that a collaboration with the Lee County School District for field trips to the Refuge was approved and finalized. The school district will designate an environmental teacher to work with the Refuge Education Team to schedule class field trips to "Ding" Darling during the school year. DDWS will contribute to the teacher's salary, and the collaboration will supplant a former busing program wholly financed by the DDWS. The busing firm we worked with went 
Students learn first-hand about nature on Refuge field trips.
out of business in 2019, and the "Ding" Darling team has been working with the school district since then to come up with a creative solution.
"Lee County now gets a great, qualified teacher for its programs for half of what it would cost without our investment," said DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller. "These field trips will come from Lee County schools that are within easy driving distance of the Refuge to allow adequate time to truly experience the Refuge. Our new Wildlife on Wheels mobile urban classroom focuses on those schools that could never make it for a field trip due to the time and distance involved."
"We are so excited that all of our negotiations and planning panned out for this wonderful partnership," said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland, who led the efforts. "It's a win-win, especially for the kids, and a prime example of how the 'Ding' Darling Wildlife Society leverages support to make good things happen. A special thanks to Susie Hassett, the district's Environmental Education Resource Teacher, for her important role in making this happen." 
Stay tuned for more news about this exciting program. To support the partnership, please contact Lynnae Messina or 239-472-1100 ext. 233.
LMP Fund for Girls

An exhibit at Gulfside City Park interprets Dr. Perry's life and contributions, along with beach flora and fauna.
 For International Women's Day on March 8, DDWS announces the establishment of a permanent endowed fund honoring the life of Dr. Louise Merrimon Perry, the first woman to donate land to the Refuge, thereby protecting the coastal Perry Tract on Sanibel Island. The Dr. Louise Merrimon Perry Conservation Fund for Girls, known familiarly as the LMP Fund for Girls, honors the highly respected ophthalmologist and malacologist who eventually retired to Sanibel Island.
Dr. Perry valued and appreciated the island's wildlife and understood the importance of protecting its habitat from future development. Upon her passing in 1962, she donated her 4-plus acre beachfront property to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to maintain as a safe haven for wildlife. 
The Perry Tract lies adjacent to Gulfside City Park, where DDWS and the Refuge have installed an interpretive kiosk for beach visitors to learn more about Dr. Perry, the shells and wildlife they may find, and the importance of helping to protect and preserve the land.
Dr. Perry's family established the LMP Fund to support women in the field of conservation and those who -- as teachers, program leaders, or in other such roles -- are impacting the lives of girls by inspiring them to become future conservation stewards.
Make a gift now to support International Women's Day with a gift to the LMP Fund for Girls. Make a note that it supports LMP Fund in the gift comment section
Anyone interested in supporting the LMP Fund for Girls in observance of International Women's Day can make a gift
online or 
call DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller at 239-292-0566.
March 8: A Sense of Wonder Film

In honor of International Women's Day on March 8, and as part of our ninth annual "Ding" Darling Film Series, we will virtually air A Sense of Wonder, a 54-minute, award-winning documentary chronicling environmental pioneer, biologist Rachel Carson, in the final year of her life. It portrays Carson as she looks back over her dealings with the government, media, and chemical industry upon the release of her then-controversial watershed book, Silent Spring, in 1962.
The film, sponsored by Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts (SCBR), is available for viewing for free anytime March 8, with a Zoom virtual discussion scheduled for 5 p.m. Pre-registration for the film and discussion are required. Those who register for the film will receive an email a day before the showing begins containing the streaming link and password along with a link to the Zoom discussion.

Bailey's General Store wine buyer Calli Johnson has recommended a wine pairing of Benziger Chardonnay to enjoy with the post discussion. "Benziger is a producer known for its organic and biodynamic growing techniques, which support the integrity of the vineyards where they grow," said Calli. "Their way of doing business is something Rachel Carson would likely take pride in."
Donate  in support of the LMP Fund for Girls in honor of International Women's Day.

Remember, profits from all Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for educational programs, wildlife research, and overall conservation efforts.
March 12: Photographic Gray Owl Lecture

 Paul Bannick will be signing copies of his books, available for purchase that day or in advance at Nature Store venues and online.
Award-winning author and wildlife photographer Paul Bannick will present a program featuring stunning imagery from his books about owls at a special lecture titled "Gray Owl: A Visual Natural History" on Friday, March 12, at 10 a.m. in The Community House at 2173 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island. 

One of Bannick's newest books Great Gray Owl: A Visual Natural History, published in October 2020, is the latest example of the author's love and respect for owls. It showcases one of the largest owl species, also known as the Phantom of the North, Great Gray Ghost, and Bearded Owl. 

It lives READ MORE

Thanks to our generous sponsors for supporting this lecture.

Missed lecture? Head to our web page 
the Tuesday following each lecture for the link to a recorded video.
Lecture Series Protocols

The upcoming season's "Ding" Darling Lecture Series evolves with the 
times and persisting distance protocols by moving to a larger venue. Socially distanced seating for the free lectures is limited and available on a first-come basis. Staff will be distributing a limited number of entry wristbands to attendees beginning at 9 a.m. that day, after taking touch-free temperature readings. DDWS asks guests to avoid lining up before 8:45 a.m. Guests must be wearing wristbands and facemasks to enter the lecture room. Early arrivals may save their seat and one other with personal items. Saved seats must be filled by 9:45. 

Our extra efforts to keep our lecture attendees safe got a shout-out this week with an email from Alice Mack, a nurse who attended a recent lecture. She wrote:
"Wanted to thank you and your staff for your following CDC guidelines at the last meeting by Jack Davis, author of 'The Gulf.' I felt as safe as possible under the prevailing circumstances. I was concerned about coming since I knew it was a large room but it was very limited and restricted. I plan on attending again."

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:

A big thanks to VIP Realtors, which recently joined our roster of Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding sponsors at the Protector level. 

Call of the Wild Sponsors

 Champion Sponsors

Guardian Sponsor

Protector Sponsors

Defender Sponsors
Main Bailey Tract Parking Lot Paving

Through April 2, the main Bailey Tract parking lot off of Tarpon Bay Road will be closed to all access, including vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. Parking is still available for visitors at Smith Pond, off of Island Inn Road. 
Refuge Continues Free Seasonal Tours

Refuge staff requires masks and distancing during its free weekly tours.

The Refuge continues offering 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 4, at 2 p.m.: Bailey Tract Tour
  • Friday, March 5, at 11 a.m.: Guided Mindfulness Walk at Bailey Tract
  • Saturday, March 6, at 2 p.m.: Indigo Trail Walk 
  • Sunday, March 7, at 9:30 a.m.: Beach Walk
  • Monday, March 8, at 9:30 a.m.: Biking the Refuge Tour
  • Tuesday, March 9, at 8:30 a.m.: Birding the Refuge Tour

 Check out our current Free Tours Flyer. 
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, 2021, having been postponed from the 2020 date due to COVID-19. That means prize purses twice the original size, as all 55 teams allowed their 2020 fees to remain in the pot plus kicked in 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.
In its eight years of existence, the tourney has raised more than half a million dollars 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:





WoW Wows Students & Teachers

Our new Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) urban mobile classroom has been making a big, positive impression at the schools it is visiting. Some comments from teacher letters we received after our first two visits.
Students at Tice Elementary were "over the moon" about WoW.
"When I heard from our administrators that the Wildlife on Wheels Mobile Classroom was coming to our school for two weeks, I wasn't sure what to expect, but hoped it would be a good experience for our students. WoW is not only an appropriate acronym for the mobile classroom, but it is also the perfect description of what I thought of the overall experience. Thank You!" Karyna Sandin, Lehigh Elementary School
"Due to the distance and low socio-economic status of our families, most of our students have never had the opportunity to visit Ding Darling or Sanibel, or even the closest beach. The WoW Mobile Classroom brings those ecosystems to our students and, more importantly, creates a hands-on experience miles away from the actual ecosystem." Anji McStravic, Science Coach, Lehigh Elementary School
"I have seen many organizations do wonderful work in conservation outreach. But the WoW takes the prize! The kind of outreach and education the WoW will accomplish in reaching the students in these hard-to-reach communities and schools will inspire them to want to learn more, study hard, and be our next conservation stewards!" Katie Riemenschneider, Assistant Principal, Tice Elementary School
Donate to support WoW's mission to reach schools, libraries, community centers, and events in under-represented neighborhoods to instill interest in the Refuge and a connection to nature.
'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. 
Image courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Location11,249 acres; Delano, California.  

Totemic FaunaAmerican Bittern, Tipton Kangaroo Rat, Coyote.

Visitor's Tip: Birding is best from October through March. 
Tipton Kangaroo Rat.

American Bittern.
April 22: Earth Day at the Refuge
The Roseate Spoonbill is a favorite subject of Artist-in-Residence Rachel Pierce. Learn her technique on a paint-along.

 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. We will be leading five free guided 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 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
8:30 a.m. - Birding the Refuge
9:30 a.m. - Biking the Refuge
2 p.m. - Paint a Roseate Spoonbill with Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce
11 a.m. - Mindfulness Walk at the Bailey Tract
1 p.m. - Junior Ranger Walk
2 p.m. - Paint a Roseate Spoonbill with Artist in Residence Rachel Pierce 
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.
2021 Wish List

From gas cards for the Wildlife on Wheels (WoW) to educational taxidermy, our 2021 Wish List is full of good ideas for this year's giving.

The Education Team is wishing for donations for field trips for under-represented minority communities this summer.

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Rebecca Clemens

Green Herons have been spotted along Wildlife Drive. 

The Green Heron is one of the world's few tool-using bird species; it uses these tools to lure in prey.

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.
  International Women's Day  - March 8, 2021

Go Wild for Jeopar-Ding - March 31, 2021

Lecture SeriesThrough March 19, 2021

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 - Mid-November - December 2021
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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