Thank you, Volunteers 
As we begin a new year of events and activities at the Refuge, it's always a good time to reflect on our progress and thank those who have helped us along the way.  Late last year we asked our Friends and others to consider us in an end-of-year giving campaign.  And, as always, we were not disappointed. You stepped forward and helped us. Thank you all for whatever contribution you made, large or small, to help ensure that we successfully assist the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge in its mission. It does make a difference; you make a difference. Thank you!

In addition to financial support, Friends and volunteers provide physical support throughout the year. Last year, volunteers assisted several times after severe storms hit our area by cleaning up debris and helping make repairs to damaged facilities.  And, recently, on a more festive note, volunteers stepped forward on a chilly winter morning (photo, above) to help make sure that the WHO Festival was a success (read more below). Volunteers worked setting up demonstration tents, serving food, demonstrating skills, educating, and providing public awareness on important wildlife initiatives. Your participation and volunteer efforts are invaluable. Once again, it makes a difference; and, you make a difference.

As we progress on into 2018, we recognize that our Friends and supporters of the Refuge are the best resource we possess. Thank you. We would not be where we are today without your help and encouragement.        
Above, left-right, Susan Cason, Nicole Zampieri and Karen Willes, all Friends' Board of Directors members, work at the Friends' booth at the WHO Festival to acquaint visitors with the benefits of becoming a new member.

The editor

WHO Festival - Chilly Weather, Warm Friendships  

The 12th annual Wildlife Heritage & Outdoors (WHO) Festival was held on Saturday February 3. A great crowd of children and adults attended this year's event in spite of early, chilly temperatures. By mid-day, however, temperatures warmed, as did the usual friendships. 

The WHO Festival is always very exciting, primarily because a lot of young people come to join in the fun and to learn more about many outdoor activities.  As a result, there were demonstrations in archery, fishing (whether it's fly fishing, bait casting, or fly-tying), atlatl throwing (a primitive spear, hunting tool used primarily in the Paleo and late Archaic Indian period of time in Florida), turkey and duck calling, as well as setting up a tent and camp site. 

A number of organizations that promote wildlife conservation and awareness were also present. These groups are very important in their efforts to educate the public about

fishing and hunting regulations throughout the state.

Thank you to Hot Tamale (our great musical duo), Bradley's Country Store, and to all of the volunteers and staff who helped make this event a great success.   


Captions, top to bottom: Jessica Beatty representing the Florida Wild Mammal Association; Demonstration by Students and Families Experiencing Archery showing correct "pull" technique; Young visitor lands a big "bass in the grass"; Demonstration by Southeast Archaeological Center, showing correct atlatl spear-throwing technique; Young visitor checks out activities and gets a free button.

Article courtesy the editor; photos courtesy the editor and Jim Young.  

Thank You Florida Lighthouse Association

The restoration and funding for the Keeper's House at the base of the lighthouse tower received a giant boost in the past month as the Florida Lighthouse Association provided the Refuge a nearly $15,000 grant.

This money will jump-start the exhibits aspect of the Keeper's House that will begin after the current construction and Keeper's House stabilization has been completed in the coming months.  The grant will help fund the following:

* Exhibit signage, such as basic informational panels, timeline, and more
* Equipment used for programming
* Research necessary for exhibit displays and interpretation
* Photographic duplication and text panels used in exhibits
* Furniture items such as an information and welcome area counter as well  as seating for programs

We would like to thank FLA for their help to "Bring the Past to Light".  The Association's assistance is greatly appreciated.

The editor 

Don't forget to join us for the English Muffin Breakfast, March 4
at 11 am, prior to Suzi Goodhope's 2 pm First Sunday presentation in the Education Building at the Refuge. The menu has been set for this festive late-morning event, and breakfast sandwiches, fruit, coffee and juices will be part of the fare for this late-winter time of year. 

Please RSVP by February 27 to help us plan for food for the event.  Call (850) 925-6121.

The editor

Watercolor Class - Three Seats Available 

Join Friends' Board of Directors' member, Phillip Pollock, on Saturday, February 24, from 1-3:30 pm as he leads beginner and intermediate art students through some basic watercolor concepts for landscape painting.  
Lots of participant painting and instructor feedback in this session.  There is no fee for the 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. The class had been full until recently, but a few cancellations now allow for 3 more guests, so call now.

The editor

Refuge News   
March 3, Shutterbugs - Smart phone photography 1-4 p.m. 
Nature's Classroom. Call (850) 925-6121 to register.
First Sunday, March 4, 2 pm in the Barred Owl Room 
Suzi Goodhope will give a presentation on the Port Leon Cemetery. The port itself was established in 1837, along the St. Marks River, but was destroyed by a hurricane just six years later.  Ms. Goodhope uses her dog, Shiraz, a Belgian Malinois, to detect human remains.

Birding and Wildlife Observation, March 5
9:00 am to noon.  Join Matt and Cyndi Johnstone for a behind the gates wagon tour.  Seating is limited.  Call (850) 925-6121 to register. 

March 10 - Birding Behind the Gates with Don Morrow
9:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. Tour limit 25 - Call (850) 925-6121 to register.

Friends Annual Meeting
This year, the Annual meeting takes place on Saturday, April 28 from 2-4 PM with coffee and deserts. There will be an election of new officers, an annual treasurer's report and more. Our speaker will be Ranger Scott Davis who will discuss the amazing development of the Monarch Milkweed Initiative and how it has evolved and prospered over time.

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