New Board of Directors Set to Guide Friends      
  Beginning June 1, two new board  members will be in place and two new board officers will begin leading the Friends in their mission to support the Refuge.

At the recent annual meeting, Leslie Paugh and Laura Rush were unanimously voted on by those in attendance to begin a three-year term on the Friends board. Two long-time members, Tom Baird (left) and Betty Hamilton, complete their second terms as board directors at the same time.  In addition, the new officers were voted on to continue the work of the Friends. 

The Friends Officers of the Board of Directors are:

Susan Cason, President (at right)
Sue Conte, Vice-President
John Haines, Treasurer
Melissa Jacoby, Secretary

Tom Baird, who has recently been serving as interim President in Mary Smallwood's (bottom right) leave of absence, handed off the president's responsibilities to Susan Cason during the annual meeting.  Both Tom and Mary have made huge accomplishments during their time of leadership, and Friends are indebted to them for their direction and support of the Refuge. Tom has been the force behind fundraising for the St. Marks lighthouse restoration and we are thankful that he's agreed to continue to help Bring the Past to Light.

As she steps away from her board responsibilities, Betty Hamilton (left) leaves a long resume of board work behind her.  As a past board president, she has helped to expand the role of the Friends board with the Refuge by providing great leadership. Betty loves the Refuge, and we're certain to continue seeing her out and about, lending a hand, wherever it's needed.

Many thanks to all the members of the board of directors and to all the Friends who attended the annual meeting to ensure that support for the Refuge is handled responsibly.

A rticle and all photos courtesy the editor, with exception of Mary Smallwood photo provided by Susan Cason.  

  St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge
Celebrates 50 Years
Please join us in congratulating our sister-Friends, The St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. 

On  July 6, The St. Vincent Friends will reflect on the past 50 wonderful years, beginning in 1968, and look forward to even greater successes in the future with the national Refuge system. They are planning a gala celebration on that day, so feel free to make the trip and join in the fun.

For more information, visit the St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge on their Friends' website. The SVNWR is located off the Gulf Coast, Apalachicola, Florida.
Article, the editor; photos courtesy, Karen Willes, Friends Board of Directors.

  May Milkweed Update
from Sophia's corner of the world 

As you may know, Florida has spring, summer, and fall milkweeds; we have different species that bloom during each of those seasons.  Many of our spring milkweed species (ex. A. humistrata - sandhill milkweed, A. perennis - aquatic milkweed, and A. variegata - redring milkweed ) have finished flowering and are growing sizeable pods.  Although A. humistrata can be very plentiful in some areas of the refuge, the species continues to be somewhat of a mystery at the nursery.  These plants are very slow-growing and can take five to ten years to flower.

Over the last few weeks, we have been checking on wild populations of A. humistrata in and around the refuge.  Monitoring these plants throughout their season allows us to study their phenology, or their life cycle.  The data we collect will help us learn when the plants come up, when they flower, what insects are pollinating them, and when they yield seeds, which is all very useful information for our use at the nursery.

So what have we learned so far?   A. humistrata came up earlier this year than usual.  As soon as they came up, monarchs were utilizing it.  In fact, eggs and caterpillars can still be found on A. humistrata
right now.  It seems that monarchs migrating from Mexico may use this species immediately on their journey north. 

You can always be kept up-to-date on future planting and transplanting workdays by liking Monarch-Milkweed Initiative at St. Marks NWR on Facebook or contacting us via email. 
(photo caption above: Seed pods forming on A. humistrata was taken recently in the Panacea Unit.)

Article and photo courtesy Sophia Fonseca  (right) 

Family Fishing Day, A Look Back 
Trite as it may sound, pictures do speak a thousand words.  That is so true here, where it is obvious that excitement was in the air during the May 5 Family Fishing Day.

 Once again this year, the public came out in great numbers. Temperatures warmed up as the day advanced, but that did not deter attendees. 

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.

Article, the editor, photos courtesy Betsy Kellenberger

When 'Old School' Still Works  
Believe it or not, a lot happened prior to the onset of the internet, or even before Snapchat or Facebook.  I know that that is hard to fathom, but information has actually been around for a very long time.

I was thinking about this recently as I skimmed through a couple of old Florida field guides and studies that I have gathered over my collecting years.  What if an old publication was so obscure or so forgotten that its text was never digitized, I thought?  How would anyone be able to search a database to glean the book content? The truth is; they wouldn't.

In reality, technology has become so strong that old book contents are often electronically available, but that is only the case if someone took the time to perform that rather arduous conversion process, called OCR, or optical character recognition.

As I flipped through the pages of these two old copies (The Ferns of . . ., dated 1918 [top], and The Florida Tree Snails . . ., dated 1929 [below]), I thought it might be very possible that I was glimpsing text that ONLY I could read if I (or someone else) had the book in hand. That it couldn't happen with the instantaneous, take-for-granted-at-your-fingertip Google search that we have all come to know because the content hadn't been digitized. 

But, fortunately, books still survive in collections where research can happen. In addition, yes, you guessed it, many old books have been reprinted or hard-scanned as PDFs such that they are available on Amazon and other sources. In addition, content has often had OCR scanning done so that it can be read and searched. 

Regardless, it is still comforting for me to actually pick up a book and read its contents to find an answer or to simply enjoy holding a well-thumbed copy.  Sometimes, there is just no school like old school.

Article and photos, the editor



Join Friends Board of Directors' member, Phillip Pollock, on Saturday, May 26, 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 will take place in this session.  There is no fee for the class, though, as always, there is an entrance fee to the Refuge.
Call the Refuge at (850) 925-6121 to sign up and receive the course description. The class is limited to six participants.
Article courtesy the editor

Refuge News    
May 19, St Marks Photo Club 
9 a.m. in Nature's Classroom
June 3, First Sunday,
2 pm in the Barred Owl Room 

Jack Rudloe, Fifty years of Sea Turtle Conservation

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