provided to The Santiva Chronicle
The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) on Sanibel Island welcomed intern Kylie Thomasen this month to support the conservation and education mission of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
Thomasen hails from Waunakee, Wisc. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in life sciences communication and environmental studies, and went on to earn a master’s in environmental conservation this year. For the past two years, she worked in Madison with Clean Lakes Alliance as a publications intern.
“Wildlife photography is a passion of mine, so it’s a dream to be surrounded by so many unique species of birds and other wildlife,” said Thomasen. “I am thrilled to look out the window at the office and see manatees, alligators, and lizards — creatures I definitely don’t see in Wisconsin. Especially when I bike around the island, it’s always exciting to encounter animals I didn’t know were here.”
Thomasen looks forward to exploring new ways to be creative through communications – including graphic design, writing, and social media – to share and support the refuge’s conservation message and engage with the community.
The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) provides housing, living stipends, and other benefits for six to eight interns each year. Since Hurricane Ian destroyed onsite intern housing last year, DDWS has procured temporary housing on and off island until the refuge is able to design and build replacement accommodations, expected by 2025.
“We welcome Kylie’s energy and enthusiasm,” said DDWS Executive Director Ann-Marie Wildman. “She brings fresh ideas and outlook to our mission to reach people of all ages with the refuge’s conservation message. At the same time, she will benefit from the team’s track record for fundraising and communication.”
For information about supporting refuge internship programs, contact Wildman at 239-789-8991.