Spring - Ah, Spring  

Yes, it is that time of year at the Refuge.  Clocks have been advanced an hour, Spring is only a week away (officially), and we're experiencing angel weather, as a visitor mused recently.

Take a leisurely drive from the Visitor Center to the lighthouse and really take time to observe what's there to see. Sometimes it takes close inspection. 

The colorful landscape with diverse flora and fauna, all make the 7 mile drive a  pleasure.

These photos were taken just a few days ago. They are a reminder of why we all love the Refuge.  You just cannot buy this at a store or online.  It is a gift that we have been given.  Share it and Give a gift membership now.


Article and photos, editor 

Keeper's House Restoration - The Fine Details  
The lighthouse doors and shutters are currently either being restored or totally re-fabricated (when necessary) and this extends even to the hardware.  Shown at left is a before and after photo of the hinges, along with information relating to the manufacturer. The restorer reports that these smaller curved hinges were the set that was on the watch room shutters (the hinges were still mounted but the shutters were gone). They actually have a stamping from the brass foundry, Gifford & Allen from New Bedford, MA., which was in business in the mid-1800s, though there isn't much information on the company.

To give an example of the time involved in restoration, it took the restorer six hours to strip and polish just two hinges. Restoration takes time, and the details are what make the difference. 

This kind of attention to detail also costs money.  You can help us restore the irreplaceable St. Marks Lighthouse by going to the Friends website and making a donation to the Lighthouse Fund. We know that many of you already have, and we thank you.  But, if you have been waiting for the right time to assist us, this might be it!

We still have a long way to go to fully restore the entire light station. We are grateful to all who continue to help us "Bring the Past to Light". 

Article and photos courtesy, Tom Baird, Interim Friends Board of Directors President.

  Shutterbugs Recognized by FWS    

Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, Board of Directors members and Refuge staff are proud of accomplishments of our very own Karen Willes. She serves on Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge Board of Directors, and in addition, she teaches the Shutterbugs digital photography class that has been offered at the Refuge for a bit over two years.  In that short time, her classes have attracted more than 100 participants who use ONLY smartphones.

Recently, Shutterbugs' success story has been recognized in the E-Grits Online Newsletter of the Southeast Region of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Read this fascinating article that discusses how Shutterbugs has evolved to be one of the hugely popular public offerings at the Refuge.

Article courtesy the editor, photo courtesy Karen Willes  

  Milkweed Update 

Spring is here!  While this season is a time of growth, it's also a productive time for spring cleaning at the milkweed nursery.  To protect our ever-increasing amount of supplies (So much to grow! So little space!) our wonderful volunteers, Mike Castalone and Jim Drummond, built a shed for our use; platform, steps, and all.  The now-full shed has allowed for the smaller greenhouse to be emptied and prepared for seed-planting in the warm weather.

The beds around the greenhouses were attended to as well.  Dead material was cut back and wildflower seeds were collected for future pollinator gardens.  A few empty beds were filled very recently with A. tuberosa (butterfly milkweed) and A. lanceolata (fewflower milkweed, pictured at left). These milkweed were saved from construction of the U.S. Highway 98 bike trail.  As they grow into adults, they will become excellent educational examples for volunteers and visitors to the nursery by serving as better species identification.

Almost every species at the nursery is back up after their winter slumber. Be on the lookout for planting and transplanting workdays in the very near future by liking Monarch-Milkweed Initiative at St. Marks NWR on Facebook or contacting us via email.  
Photo Caption: Volunteers Jeannie Brodhead and Bill Clutter, with the soon-to-be A. lanceolata bed.  

Article and photo courtesy Sophia Fonseca, Intern.  (Editor note:  Both the Friends and the Refuge staff are truly indebted to the work of our fearless interns. This is such a ground-level [excuse the intended pun] effort.  It's not glamorous work. These folks get dirty; and they perform hard, physical work. But, those of us in the know realize the importance of what they do, and we are extremely grateful for their time and dedication.) 

Leslie Paugh - New Board Member

We are thrilled to announce that a  new board member is joining us this month.  Leslie Paugh has a sociology undergraduate degree and she also has a law degree from the University of Louisville. Given these wonderful credentials, she says, "My skills are evolving". If they are evolving, we can't wait to see where that takes her in her volunteer efforts with the Friends.

Already, on a volunteer basis, Leslie has helped us at several of our major events throughout the past two years, and she has been active on the membership committee, where Chair Susan Cason says with a smile, "she helps to keep us on point".

Leslie's interest in the Refuge does not come without a foundation. In the past, she has served as an officer with the Apalachee Audubon Society and she is a Legacy member of the Nature Conservancy.

When you see her (and her very active volunteer son, Alex) at upcoming events, please welcome her.  We are so happy she is with us.

Note: Leslie will become an official member of our Friends Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting in April.  (A vote of approval by Friends members is required in our bylaws.) 

Article and photo, the editor.  

The Friends 2018 Annual Meeting, April 28

It's not too early to plan for the upcoming April 28 Friends Annual
Meeting. As always, there will be a business meeting to start things off that includes the confirmation of a couple of new board members as well as a treasurer's report that takes a year-at-a-glance look at our finances. Also, a few important Friends who will be recognized for their volunteer contributions, and a presentation will be made by Ranger Scott Davis (right) about the Monarch-Milkweed initiative (read an update on that above in this newsletter). Scott will share the interesting story of how he gathers the milkweed seeds and how the Monarch-Milkweed Initiative has evolved to become a nationally-recognized success story.  

The annual meeting would not be at all complete without the usual and delightful array of desserts and coffee.  We look forward to seeing you there.  Please RSVP by calling 850-925-6121 by April 24..

Article, the editor; photo courtesy Refuge staff  

English Muffin Refuge Breakfast - a Look Back

The Friends late-winter breakfast that took place on Sunday March 4 was a great success.  The Friends membership committee always puts on a great event, and this one was especially well-received by everyone in attendance.  The English muffin sandwiches, in combination with fruit and a few little sweeter-side muffins, put lots of smiles on attendees' faces.

Several of our interns attended, and it's always great to have them surface from their work so they can talk to us about their current projects. And, some guests arrived and signed up to be members. Finally, many attendees stayed late to take advantage of the excellent Port Leon Cemetery, First Sunday presentation made by Suzi Goodhope and Shiraz. Thank you, Suzi.

And, thanks to all who made this another great day at the Refuge.

The editor

Watercolor Class Review  

As you can see (above), class attendees for the February 24 watercolor painting class had their brushes raised and were ready to begin work. This was a particularly talented group of artists. For several, it was the very first time they had ever attempted to paint anything, even though all participants showed outstanding skill with the difficult medium. 

Instructor and Friends Board of Directors member, Phillip Pollock, led the way by demonstrating a simple landscape that showed an abandoned rural home. Several participants attempted that same scene, while others used the techniques demonstrated to try other landscapes, and even a galaxy supernova. Everyone seemed to enjoy the afternoon.

These classes are held randomly, about 4-5 times each year.  Another will be offered soon, so look for an announcement here in Reflections when that date is scheduled.

Captions:  (middle photo) Judy Gray's brilliant take from a rural photo showed strong and accurate color likeness. She worked quickly and finished a beautiful work in the short class time. (bottom) Deborah Dietz used soft, deft brush strokes to lay the foundation for a very accomplished, soon-to-be-completed watercolor. 

The editor

Creative Artist Wanted   

We would like to hear from someone with basic art/design/writing skills who would consider volunteering to change out the Lighthouse Kiosk exhibit, approximately 4-5 times during the year. The kiosk theme is flexible, but it needs to fit with the mission of both the Refuge and the Friends' group. If you would like to consider this, or know of someone who would, please contact the editor of Reflections, Philliip M. Pollock, via email, or simply reply to this email.

Refuge News   
First Sunday, April 1 at 2 pm in the Barred Owl Room 
Chuck Hess, biologist and U.S. Forest Service employee, will discuss the translocation process of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers that has been successfully in place for many years at the Refuge.

Birding and Wildlife Observation, March 18
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 21 - St. Marks Photo Club
9:00 a.m. in 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