provided to The Santiva Chronicle
The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) on Sanibel Island welcomed two new interns this month to support the conservation and education mission of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge: Maisie Peters and Carmen Wolfe.
This year’s Harkey Development & Communication Intern, Peters hails from Madison, Wisc. She arrived from Washington, D.C., where she spent her second summer as a tour guide for an educational travel group.
Peters graduated in May from Miami University in Florida with degrees in sociology and speech pathology/audiology. She is looking forward to planning and executing fundraising events. Her permanently endowed, fully funded internship is made possible by the generosity of DDWS Board Vice President Bill Harkey and his wife Laurie.
“It has been so inspiring to witness the commitment the Sanibel community has made to rebuilding post-Ian,” Peters said. “Everyone has been incredibly welcoming, and there is such a strong feeling of support within ‘Ding’ and across the island as a whole. I have really enjoyed diving into the world of nonprofit development, communications, conservation, and education, and am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from and work alongside such an incredible staff.”
When not working, Peters enjoys running and being active, cooking, reading, and spending time on the seashore.
Wolfe, from Wausau, Wisc., recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a bachelor’s degree in integrated strategic communications and public relations and a minor in European studies. Before coming to “Ding,” she interned as a webinar hostess, part of a marketing team for HalfMoon Education, a nonprofit continuing education provider.
“I am excited to learn more about the area and the ecosystem of southern Florida,” Wolfe said. “I am also really excited to do some event planning for the Refuge. I think gathering the community is a great way to create connections in an area.”
Her favorite pastimes include painting, reading, and, now, going to the beach.
“The beaches and all of the island’s nature are so serene,” said Wolfe. “The refuge is nothing like I have ever seen before! I am excited to see more birds and wildlife as the season approaches.”
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 Maisie’s and Carmen’s energy and enthusiasm,” said DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller Gresham. “They bring fresh ideas and outlook to our mission to reach people of all ages with the refuge’s conservation message. At the same time, they benefit from the team’s track record for fundraising and communication.”
DDWS currently stewards two named internships for the 2023-2024 year and is accepting donations for three future named intern funds at $12,500 a year, which is the cost for supporting one intern including housing, stipends, travel, and other expenses. For information about supporting refuge internship programs, contact Ann-Marie Wildman, DDWS associate director, at 239-789-8991.