Help Us as we "Bring the Past to Light"
Would you like to see the St. Marks Lighthouse illuminate the night sky as it did for 173 years? This is certainly what we've been working toward. Help us in our continued journey to Bring the Past to Light.
A generous donor has contributed funds to construct a replica of the historic Fourth Order Fresnel lens, and we are planning to install it in the lantern room. However, there are expenses associated with installation and wiring. Help us make the dream come true and see the St. Marks Lighthouse once again light the coast.
As many of you may know, the light from the Fresnel lens was extinguished in 2000 when the Coast Guard installed a modern solar powered light on the exterior of the lantern room. That light has since been removed, and the lighthouse has stood dark ever since.
It's time to start the final phases of lighthouse restoration.
Bringing back the light has been the dream of many Refuge supporters. If you want to see the grand old lighthouse once again beam its message to sea, please contribute to the Lighthouse Fund by either donating online  (scroll to lighthouse giving) or by mail to Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, PO Box 368, St. Marks, FL 32355. Be sure to mark Lighthouse Fund on your check.  
Thank you for your support as we "Bring the Past to Light!"
The editor   

Annual Meeting - April 27       
All Members of the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge are invited to attend the 2019 Annual Meeting on Saturday, April 27 from 2-4 pm in the Visitor Center Education Building.  
Friends' members will hear a report on the current state of the Friends organization, including a financial overview, and be asked to vote on new and renewing Board Members and Officers. Refuge staff will give an update on current programs and challenges.
Also, we have a very special presenter scheduled.  We don't want to give away the surprise, but the program should be well worth the anticipation. 

Please join us for this important Friends meeting, and enjoy a variety of desserts and beverages. We look forward to seeing everyone. 
The editor   

Welcome - New Board Members
We are very excited about two new members who are joining the Friends' Board of Directors.  Both come to us with fine talents, energy and interests that will serve us well in the coming years.

Bill Clutter
is from Boca Raton, FL
though he has lived 
most of his adult life in Tallahassee. He is recently retired from FSU where he served as director of the Oglesby Union (student center). Bill has been serving in a variety of volunteer capacities over the recent months, most recently attired (at left) in a lighthouse keeper uniform on Florida Lighthouse Day, April 6.  Bill says, "I have a lifelong love of Natural Florida," and we are happy to now have that love focused on the Refuge.   
Our second new member is
Bill Everitt who is a  Georgia native, recently relocating to Tallahassee after a career in the computer technology business. He and his wife, Amelia Fusaro, have been coming to St. Marks every year for over 20 years.  
"I continue to be amazed at the natural beauty and wildlife here at the Refuge," says Bill. While living in Atlanta, Bill and Amelia created a blog about urban wildlife and the habitat that supports it, and they started a non-profit to drive neighborhood support for saving Atlanta's trees.    
Thank you Bill Clutter and Bill Everitt.  
The editor; photos courtesy Bill and Bill.     

Smith's Island Dedication   
It took over two years of negotiation and a lot of legal wrangling to allow the Refuge to acquire Smith's Island.  You've read a lot about this important acquisition over the past year or more in Reflections, and I will not go over all the details we've already covered. But, suffice it to say, and as you all know, Smith's Island is one of the last major rookeries in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Now, it is time to make the ownership official.   

Please join us at the upcoming Smith's Island dedication ceremony, Monday, April 29 at 2:00 at the Shell Point Pavilion.  
The editor
Note:  I have mentioned this previously, but we cannot say enough about the role that Paul Hamilton has played in this important process. He has been a key person in the Development Committee's work on Smith's Island. We are extremely grateful for his tenacity and follow-through. The photos here, as well, are courtesy of Paul.    

Join Us for an Ice Cream Social
Please join us on the "Second Sunday" of May for a Friends' good ol' fashioned ice cream social. Visit with us from 2-4 pm on Sunday, May 12 at the Visitor Center Classroom. What a great excuse to meet and greet old friends and usher in the hot summer months by sampling some cool refreshment. And, don't forget, May 12 is Mothers Day. Treat your mother to a day at the Refuge and some ice cream, too.   
You won't want to miss this Friends' gathering.  

Family Fishing Day - May 4
Family Fishing Day has become a very popular event at the Refuge, and the coming May 4 activity should be bigger and better than ever.

Once again, Ranger David Moody will be active during the festivities. He will demonstrate the proper way to clean a fish, and then provide tips for preparing your catch for the table.  
This Refuge activity is a wonderful way to bring entire families together to enjoy the rich, local environment, practice fishing skills, and show children, first-hand, the excitement of fishing. 

Join us, Saturday, May 4, 9-11 am.  Follow signs along Lighthouse road to the parking area. A tram is available to take you to the fishing site.
Photo courtesy Betsy Kellenberger   

Kayak with Friends

If you are a kayaking enthusiast, the Friends have an exciting members-only event planned for Thursday, April 25 starting at 9:30 AM.  
The adventure begins by putting in at a private residence on the St Marks River and then paddling five miles downstream with two Green Guides as our leaders. We will take out at the bridge and have lunch at Outz's if you like.  
There is a limit of 12 people on this trip. Call the Visitor Center (850-925-6121) to sign up for the paddle. You will be contacted via email with the address for the put-in location after you have signed up. (When you call to sign up, be sure that your email is translated correctly so that there are no snags in reaching you later.) We will have to shuttle cars to the take out place prior to the paddle.
Please join us if you're a kayak fan. It will be a great adventure. Thank you. 
Article courtesy Susan Cason, Board of Directors' President; art courtesy the editor    

Plein Air Art at the Refuge
One of the things that I am constantly amazed by at the Refuge is the diversity of reasons why people love it.  Believe me, the list is long. There are the obvious ones; bird-watching, hiking, boating, canoeing and kayaking, visiting the lighthouse, photography, and more.  
In the 'more' category, people come to the Refuge just to breathe the coastal air that is so revitalizing. Or, they may come to paint what they see so that they can take away a scene that has captivated them. This smaller subset of visitors is called en plein air artists, a French term that translates to 'in the open air'. Leaving your four walls and painting in open air was made very popular by 19th century, French impressionists.
 Recently, I had the opportunity to look over the shoulder of a woman who was beginning to work on a landscape as the afternoon light was waning. Her concentration seemed less intense than it might have if she was sitting in her studio. That made perfect sense to me, because whatever your reason for coming to the Refuge, the open air will provide relaxation and enjoyment.      
Article, photos, the editor  

Birding Surveys Assist Our Visitors      
Don Morrow, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge volunteer and expert birder takes in-depth bird surveys at the Refuge frequently throughout the year.  Particularly now that there is good waterfowl diversity throughout the marshy areas and ponds, Don keeps us up-to-date on what we can see from week-to-week. As the administrator of the Friends website, I attempt to keep up with his visits and post his findings here. Go there now to see his latest survey taken on March 27.
Also, here's some more assistance that Don is providing visitors and Friends. He has just recently published a book titled: Checklist -The Birds of St Marks National Wildlife Refuge. It is informative, accurate, and up-to-date.  It's for sale at the Friends Nature Store. Anyone who birds at St. Marks should have this fine reference.
The editor    

Coming Soon

April 20 St. Marks NWR Photo Club meets at 9 a.m. in the Education Building. 
April 25 Kayak with Friends, Thursday April 25 at 9:30 am. (see above story) 
April 27
Extremely Early Birding tour with Don Morrow from 6:15 to 9:15 a.m. Meet outside the Visitors Center. Limit 9; call 850-925-6121 to reserve a seat.
May 3 & 4
St. Marks Lighthouse tours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Civil War and CCC exhibits, $2 entrance fee.

May 27
Memorial Day-Refuge OPEN

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

Reflections Editor, Phillip M. Pollock