provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Second only to his wife and children, Sanibel Island resident Tom Edgar loved the “family” of volunteers he joined at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge back in 2003, shortly after moving to the island. In appreciation for the happiness the refuge and his work there brought Edgar, his family has established the Tom Edgar Volunteer Fund.
“While he was attending Rollins College, he visited Sanibel Island and the refuge and knew this would be a place he would one day live,” said his wife, Connie Edgar. “We eventually made that dream a reality when we moved to the island. He volunteered for several organizations after we moved here. However, it was his unique connection to ‘Ding’ Darling, its staff and volunteers that was closest to his heart.”
During his nearly 20 years at the refuge, Edgar volunteered at the front desk of the Visitor & Education Center and served on the board of directors for the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge for three of the years. Before his death in 2021, he earned his 2,500-hour volunteer award in 2020.
“Tom understood the value of volunteerism to the refuge, and the good work that was being done by the volunteers, but he also saw the true value of what volunteerism means to individual volunteers,” said Birgie Miller, DDWS executive director. “Volunteers often gain a sense of purpose, a sense of family, a connection with the community, and a chance to meet others with similar interests.”
Knowing the importance of the refuge to Edgar, Connie and their three daughters chose to establish a permanent fund to help with the expenses for running the volunteer program, knowing that he would have been supportive of anything to do with volunteers and the refuge.
Refuge donors are able to establish named endowed funds for $10,000 or more and work with DDWS staff to designate them for their areas of interest or leave them as unrestricted. The endowments can fund individual projects or ongoing education, intern, programming, research, or other specific needs. To establish an endowed fund, contact Miller at 239-292-0566. Visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/endowed-funds for more information.