Annual Meeting Revisited         
Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge gathered for the 2019 Annual Meeting on Saturday, April 27, in the Visitor Center Education Building.  
The presentations included very positive, concise information related to our finances, as well as Refuge updates on current programs and challenges that gave the large audience a realistic look back at the past year and excitement over the coming one.
Long-time Board of Directors Secretary, Melissa Jacoby, completed her six-year volunteer tenure, and she was recognized for her dedicated service.  In addition, departing board members, Sue Conte (Board VP) and Carol Phillips were singled out for their wonderful service to the Refuge and the Board over the recent years.  
Also, several new board members were introduced:  Bill Clutter, Bill Everitt, and Karen Cummins.  With Melissa Jacoby and Sue Conte leaving, the structure of the Executive Board is now as follows: Susan Cason, President; Phillip Pollock, VP; John Haines, Treasurer; and Karen Willes, Secretary.
Those attending the Annual Meeting had the added luxury of hearing a really great presentation from local, nationally-recognized author, Jeff VanderMeer (right). Jeff has been a prominent Refuge supporter, and his best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy (and the setting in his novel, known as Area X) was inspired by his frequent visits to the Refuge. Again, we extend a huge thank you to Jeff for all of his contributions to the Refuge and the Board.
Another great year awaits members of the Friends' group, so thank you to all who make our the Refuge a fantastic destination.   
The editor; photo courtesy Melissa Jacoby.    

Smith's Island Dedication   
The Smith's Island dedication at Shell Point, Monday, April 29 was a great day for Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. Approximately 30 people showed up for this important final step in the acquisition and protection of Smith's Island.  Key attendees at the event were (See Photo Above) John Whitton, Joe Reinman, and Paul Hamilton. Many thanks are extended to these individuals for the strong role they have played in bringing Smith's Island to the Refuge.    
And, thank you to everyone who played a role in this major acquisition. 

The editor, photos by Bill Everitt, Friends Board of Directors 


Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge Receive Florida Trust Award
On May 17, the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge received the award for Meritorious Achievement in Restoration/Rehabilitation for the four-year St. Marks Lighthouse Restoration project. The award was presented by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation at their 2019 First Florida, Forever Florida state conference in Pensacola. The 2019 Florida Preservation Awards ceremony was held in the auditorium of the restored historic Pensacola Little Theater on Jefferson Street.  
The six-person awards jury recognized achievements in seven categories. The award recipients also included the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Kenneth Smith Architects. Rippee Construction and several individuals involved in the project were also recognized. Kenneth Smith, lighthouse architect, and Tom Baird, representing the Friends, accepted the award on behalf of all those who have contributed and worked so hard to realize the restoration of the lighthouse.
Article courtesy Tom Baird 

Family Fishing Day - A Look Back
Excitement was in the air during the May 4 Family Fishing Day.

Once again this year, the public came out in great numbers. The weather seemed to cooperate, so the event was a great family adventure. 

Thank you to everyone who attended this annual Refuge event, and to the Rangers who assisted by demonstrating fishing techniques, hauling in some big catches, and cooking fresh catches. It was another wonderful day to be at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. 
Photos courtesy Betsy Kellenberger   

Kayak with Friends - A Look Back

A group of 10 friends members had a wonderful 5 mile paddle down the St. Marks River on April 25. The paddle was led by two Friends members who are also Green Guides, Kathy and Woody Lewis. Kathy and Woody explained the secrets of the river as everyone enjoyed the scenery. Many took the opportunity to eat at Ouzt's Too after taking out at the bridge on Highway 98.
Upcoming, similar kayak adventures will be announced here in future issues of Reflections, or you can always call the Refuge at 850-925-6121 to check on upcoming dates.    

Article and photos courtesy Susan Cason, Board of Directors' President    

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. 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.
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

June 18
St. Marks Lighthouse keeper's quarters open 1 pm - 4 pm, $2 entry fee.
June 25
St. Marks Lighthouse keeper's quarters open 1 pm - 4 pm, $2 entry fee.
July 4
Independence Day - refuge Visitor Center open from 8 am - 4 pm. Refuge is open during daylight hours as usual.
July 5-6
St. Marks lighthouse keeper's quarters open, family life & CCC exhibits, 10 am - 4 pm each day, $2 entry fee
July 20
St. Marks Photo Club - 9 am - noon at Nature's Classroom.
August 2-3
St. Marks lighthouse keeper's quarters open, family life & CCC exhibits, 10 am - 4 pm each day, $2 entry fee
August 17
St. Marks Photo Club - 9 am - noon at Nature's Classroom.

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