Reflections newsletter is a benefit of membership for Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. It also serves as an important supplement to
the Friends' web site, www.stmarksrefuge.org. 
Both the newsletter and the web site provide members and the public information about volunteer activities and events at the Refuge.

Monarch Festival
Saturday, October 28
The annual Monarch Festival is only about two weeks away. This is a great Refuge event, so bring the whole family, and your friends, and learn about the importance of monarch butterflies and milkweed, as well as other wildlife at the Refuge.      
This year, be sure to stop at the me mbership booth during your visit. The Friends are offering a buy-one-get-one-free offer at several of the lower membership levels.  What a perfect way t o take care of some of your holiday shopping early by treating yourself to a new membership or renewing your own membership and then giving a like membership to a friend.  
In addition, milkweed plants will be given to those who would like to plant them at home.  As you know, milkweed is an essential plant in the monarch life cycle.
Also, there will be local musicians present, educational exhibits, and craft projects, set up especially for children. A truly informative aspect of the festival is the "behind the gates" tour of the Refuge that guests can take at scheduled times. These tours are often highlighted by unusual animal sightings. Join us Saturday, October 28 from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Again this year, food will be available at the festival for purchase. It's a great time to be at the Refuge.
The editor  
National Public Lands Day
Thank You to All Who Helped

National Public Lands Day at the Refuge brings out the serious manual labor teams of volunteers. On a warm, late summer day, September 30, two groups of volunteers spent time planting. As you well know, work such as this involves lots of planning, digging, raking, shoveling, watering, and more to 'make a garden grow'.
  Refuge staff members Scott Davis and Lori Nicholson led each of two teams throughout the day, while David Moody supplied some much needed, cooked-on-site food and drink for those working.
Milkweed was planted in areas skirting either side of the walkway to the education building. It was a huge project lasting several hours, but the results will be well-worth it next year when the Fewflower Milkweed plants (Atlantic coastal plain natives, shown at left) put out their showy, colorful blooms for public display. Importantly, the monarch butterflies will greatly appreciate all the new plantings.

Other volunteers could be found working on a variety of tasks to, not only, beautify Refuge surroundings, but also help with clean-up measures to restore order to the Visitors Center area. Thank you to all who helped. Your work and volunteer efforts are an invaluable gift to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.
Article courtesy the editor; Photos Courtesy, "Two dedicated volunteers"
Lighthouse Updates

The Friends received approval from the Florida Division of Historical Resources on October 10 to proceed with the contract with Rippee Construction of Tallahassee for major lighthouse renovations.  The contract was signed the same day enabling Rippee to order materials and mobilize so that work can begin.  A separate grant to enable the construction of a ramp to the lighthouse for people with disabilities is already underway.

Courtesy, Tom Baird, Friends' Board of Directors Vice-President
Incident Response
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge has been fortunate to have escaped the damage suffered by so many other Refuges and public lands across the country and US territories this year. Wildfires and hurricanes have taken their toll. St. Marks and North Florida Complex employees were called to respond.  Wildfire season began early in the year in South Georgia at Okeefenokee NWR.   St. Marks fire crews responded.  Over the next several months, Refuge fire crews and law enforcement officers were also sent to help with the massive wildfires in Montana, Oregon, Utah, Nevada.  
When Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria occurred, staff were on call to provide logistical support in Texas, "saw" and clean up work at J.N. "Ding" Darling, Florida Panther, and Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges, and to provide emergency law enforcement assistance on the devastated island of Puerto Rico. We are proud of the support that Refuge staff provides to others in need. Thank you David Moody, Taija Robinson, Greg Titus, Joey Lord, Meagan Beiber, Maryssa Milinichik, Travis Pollard, Bart Rye, Josh Havird, Vic Doig and David Murphy
Captions: at top, Irma-Big Pine Key is at Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge; center,
Montana Fire Detail; bottom right, Oregon fire detail 
Article courtesy Melissa Jacoby, Friends' Board Secretary, and photos courtesy Refuge staff
Watercolor Class - Basic Wildlife Demonstration
Saturday, November 11 from 1 - 3:30 pm  
Whether your interest in wildlife involves landscape scenes, birds, trees, leaves, flowers or all of the above, join Friends Board of Directors' member, Phillip Pollock, as he leads beginner and intermediate art students through some basic watercolor concepts. Join in the fun as this class will involve a bit less instruction and a lot more participant painting and instructor feedback.  There is no fee for this class, though, as always, there is an entrance fee to the Refuge. 
Call the (850) 925-6121 to sign up and receive the course description. There are only 6 slots available for this class, so call now. 
the editor   

The Annual Report
Coming Your Way Soon
The 2016-17 Annual Report is nearly complete, and it should be in member hands shortly. As you all probably know, the annual report provides information on how well we perform our Friend's mission and achievements in the past year. We've had another strong year in our effort to assist the Refuge. Look for it soon.

Cover Photo courtesy David Moynahan; cover design; Rita LeBlanc 

Refuge News   

Friends and Staff Remember Lighthouse Friend and Co-worker

The recent passing of Chris Weber brought Friends and Refuge Staff together on September 23 at a memorial service held at the lighthouse.  
Chris brought so much expertise to all aspects of his work at the Refuge, but he excelled in his love for and dedication to the lighthouse restoration project. Many staff and friends came forward at the memorial service to share their favorite memories of Chris and reflect on his wonderful sense of humor. Chris will be missed greatly, but remembered for his many contributions to the Refuge and his infectious smile.  
 Article courtesy the editor; Photos courtesy Gail Fishman (top) and the editor (bottom) 
Monday, October 16 - Bird and Wildlife Observation. Join Cyndi and Matt Johnstone for a behind-the-gates e-tram tour. 9:00 a.m. to noon. Limited to 10 people. Call (850) 925-6121 to reserve a space.

Saturday, October 21 - St. Marks Photo Club. Meets in Nature's Classroom at 9:00 a.m. Open to all who are interested in nature photography.

Sunday, October 22 - Fall Birding Tours. 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Join Naturalist Don Morrow for a behind the gates tour. Meet in the Visitor Center parking lot. Reservations are required. Call (850) 925-6121 to reserve a spot.  

Sunday, October 22 - Wildlife Photography E-Tram Tour. 1 p.m. Tour will be led by a photo club member. Limited to 10 persons. Reservations are required. Call (850) 925-6121 to reserve a space.

Saturday, October 28 - Monarch Festival
From 10 am - 4 pm. 850-925-6121 for more information about this great event.

Saturday, November 11, Watercolor Class, Beginners / Intermediate (see article above)

Have you considered including the Refuge in your will?  We would appreciate hearing from you if so. The Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge can provide information and guide you through the process. Just call the Refuge at 850-925-6121, and ask to be contacted by the Friends' Development Committee, or email us.

Reflections Editor, Phillip M. Pollock