Would You Like to Become More
Involved with the Friends at the Refuge?
Do you have talents, interests, and skills that can help both the Friends and the Refuge? Want to make a difference in sustaining the Friends and the Refuge?
You can devote time or talents you have to one of several committees. Here are some committees that would like your help.
Works to recruit new and retain current Friends members, and maintain an active membership base for the Friends, including renewal and reminder information, membership literature, annual membership identification items, and planning and conducting member-only events. Contact Susan Cason at   
(left) Board members Karen Willes, rear, Carol Phillips, right and volunteer, Leslie Paugh work at the membership booth during the recent Monarch Festival.  
Works to raise funds to accomplish the Friends mission in support of the Wildlife Refuge. Lighthouse fundraising is the most immediate need, however, your energies are needed to enhance areas such as Major Gifts, Endowments, Annual Giving, Proposal Writing and Grants, and other fundraising strategies. Contact Tom Baird at 
Nature Store
Assists the nature store manager in the operation of the store. Contact 
Advises and assists the Treasurer to oversee the budgeting process and financial planning, develop useful and readable financial reports, establish internal controls and accountability policies, oversee audit and IRS 990, and oversee cash management and investment practices. Contact John Haines at 
First Sunday
Provides help with the First Sunday event at the Refuge. While this is not a committee, you would be helping set-up the room, prepare refreshments, encourage sign-in, and provide ideas for speakers for future presenters. Contact Robin Will at
Article courtesy, Tom Baird, Board Vice-President; photo, editor    

Birds You Can Expect to See in November
In November the Refuge settles into the winter birding season. St. Marks now has almost it's entire complement of wintering bird species as the later-migrating ducks like Bufflehead and Goldeneye arrive. Also, it's a good month to look for Geese; Snow, Ross' and Greater White-fronted out on Stony Bayou II. Up to twenty-eight waterfowl species are possible over the season. Logging nineteen species is not unusual on a winter day.
A few migrants will continue to drift in all month. Common Loons and Horned Grebes come in and the largest later migrants, like Sandhill Crane, pass through on their way to central Florida. The resident rails, Clapper, King and Black, have by now been joined by the wintering rails, Sora, Virginia and Yellow. Both Black and Yellow Rails are cryptic species that are present, but rarely seen. Check the levee edges for rails, both Sedge and the more-common Marsh Wren, and for sparrow species like Savannah, Swamp and Song.
Article courtesy of Don Morrow, Friends' volunteer birding guide; Photos of Sora Rail, top, and Bufflehead, bottom, courtesy Karen Willes.   

Monarch Festival - A Look Back
Here are just a few snapshots of the October 28th festival that reflect the color and excitement at this year's event, and thank you to all who attended.  May the memories linger (especially the wonderful Monarch cookies, bottom photo) . . . until next year,  that is.

Photo credits:  top and bottom right, Betsy Kellenberger; Refuge staff, Scott Davis and Gail Fishman at right and monarchs below, Karen Willes; Alex Paugh, volunteer, with Monarch cookie at bottom left, editor.
Your Membership Dollars at Work         
Monarch Butterfly populations have seriously declined in the past 10  years. Shouldn't someone be doing something about this? Someone is, and it's you!
While many people think only of the grand views from Lighthouse Road and the iconic Lighthouse itself when they think of St. Marks, the Refuge is much more than that. One thing people may not realize is that St. Marks is home to world-class scientific research that is recognized as cutting edge work.
There is no better example of this than the Monarch/Milkweed Initiative which is now in its third year of gathering, propagating, and planting 19 species of native milkweed. As most people know by now, milkweed is essential for Monarch butterfly reproduction. What is less well known is that there is no source of native milkweed stock for the majority of milkweed species that the Monarchs depend on - at least there wasn't until St. Marks Rangers' Scott Davis and Gail Fishman began collecting and growing them in 2015.
Since the inception of the project, more than 50,000 milkweed plants have been grown with thousands distributed throughout the Florida Panhandle. (This year at the Monarch Festival, over 1,000 small milkweed plants were given to adults to plant at home. See top photo.) One key ingredient to this continued success is the financial support provided through Membership in the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. Support from the Friends this year made possible a professionally built and equipped greenhouse, including squirrel-proofing, since one of the lessons learned is that squirrels also love milkweed seedlings!
For more information, follow the Monarch-Milkweed Initiative at St. Marks NWR on Facebook. And, you can go to the Friends' web site to read more about this important wildlife initiative
Article and bottom photo courtesy, John Haines, Friends' Board of Directors Treasurer; Top photo of Board member, Nicole Zampieri, giving out milkweed plants courtesy of Board member, Karen Willes.

End of Year Giving

The Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, through donations and Nature Store profits, support important projects at the Refuge for which funds are limited - from restoring the historic lighthouse and saving endangered species to maintaining and restoring fragile habitat. The many projects and accomplishments of the Friends can be seen in our recently published 2016-17 Annual Report.
If you are considering making a contribution to your favorite cause this year, consider the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. THINK ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE REFUGE PROGRAM(S), AND MAKE A DONATION NOW.  

Graphics, courtesy Rita LeBlanc

Watercolor Class - And, the Winners Are . . . 
On Saturday, November 11, participants joined in for another colorful day of work with watercolor paints, and ALL the results were winners. Two of our participants in this session were our very own Friends' Board members, Sue Conte and Susan Cason.  
This class of students exhibited very strong ability in this difficult medium. They each skillfully employed many of the techniques that were demonstrated by instructor, Phillip Pollock, as he led everyone through the process of laying out a painting and then pushing to completion.  
Introductory watercolor classes will continue to be offered at the Refuge. Look for information here for upcoming dates (the next class should be offered in late February or early March).    
Captions;  Top, Susan Cason and Gary Sherman check the progress of Sue Conte's feathered friend shown at center. At bottom, Lois Allanson's whimsical dragonflies get ready for take-off.  
The editor   
Refuge News    
Red-cockaded woodpeckers 
Some of our beloved woodpeckers are finding a new home here at the Refuge. They have been transferred to this location from Ft. Stewart, Georgia.
Frosted flatwoods salamanders
Interns have been busy trapping these amphibians so that they can be relocated to appropriate Refuge locales.
Whooping cranes
The cranes are currently headed this way. Two of the birds are now a couple and have seven young tagging along with them.   

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