provided to The Santiva Chronicle
As part of a federal initiative to make community connections with the National Wildlife Refuge System conservation message, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island recently welcomed new Urban Ranger Yvette Carrasco to fill a vacancy in its outreach efforts.
Carrasco hails from Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in Spanish at Western Illinois University in Macomb. She comes to the refuge from a position at Mound House in Fort Myers Beach as environmental educator, informing the public about the Calusa culture and natural history of the site.
Prior to that, Carrasco worked seven years with the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel Island. There, she shared her knowledge as a Certified Florida Master Naturalist with the community during weekly presentations about the importance of local wildlife.
“Sanibel is very special to me,” Carrasco said. “I have worked and lived on the island, which allowed me the opportunity to build relationships with many people and organizations. My favorite memories were the rescues and releases that took place at ‘Ding’ Darling when I worked at CROW. It’s very beautiful to see organizations collaborate on Sanibel for the same goal of preserving the island and protecting wildlife.”
At “Ding” Darling, Carrasco will be assisting with the WoW (Wildlife on Wheels) mobile classroom and other community outreach programs. She actively collaborates with the Farmworkers Association of Florida in Immokalee, where she uses her bilingual skills to make visible the reality of a commonly undervalued community.
“Her broad connections within the local community and the summary of her educational skills will help us maximize the overall experience with WoW and our other top-priority outreach programs,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland.
“I look forward to educating in Spanish,” Carrasco said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to reach the Spanish-speaking community and educate about the importance of the environment and its wildlife.”