provided to Santiva Chronicle
Since 2011, LARC Inc. has explored the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge with the help of Tarpon Bay Explorers. Since 1954, LARC Inc. (Lee County Association of Remarkable Citizens), has dedicated the organization to meeting, promoting and providing developmentally disabled people of Lee County with opportunities and services to gain independence and responsibilities.
“LARC and Tarpon Bay Explorers are like two sides of a family that gets to see each other only once a year,” explained Assistant Manager, Adam Sauerland. “We look forward to seeing familiar faces each time and look forward to the event every year. The event is nothing but a good time,” elated Sauerland.
Tarpon Bay Explorers is the concession to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge providing informative tours and recreational activities. Just as families have traditions, so does LARC and Tarpon Bay Explorers. LARC members enjoyed exploring the refuge by land and sea. The first portion of the trip consisted of a tram tour along Wildlife Drive lead by a dynamic duo of naturalists, Donna and Steve Yetsko.
“Wildlife Drive never ceases to amaze this time of year,” exclaimed both Yetskos. “We observed easily a dozen specie of birds. The “usuals” of course were in attendance, but the LARC crew was able to find some birds they haven’t seen before including a Kingfisher, Magnificent Frigatebird, and a Green Heron,” explained Donna Yetsko. “They did a great job identifying birds on their own with the Refuge’s ID brochure” complemented Yetsko.
After the tram tour, the group drove back to Tarpon Bay to prepare for their boat cruise. But all that birding built up an appetite. George & Wendy’s Seafood Grille provided good ol’ fashioned hotdogs, watermelon, chips and ice cream for the bunch to munch on. Once no one could muster up an appetite for another dog, the Yetskos led the gang into the Aquarium Touch Tanks to learn about critters that live at the bottom of Tarpon Bay. The group learned about horseshoe crabs, oysters, sea stars and sea turtles.
Then, the group boarded Explorer IV to cruise the tranquil waters of Tarpon Bay looking for any and every kind of wildlife. This time the crew lucked out and were able to get a great sighting of a dolphin mom and calf swimming side by side. “Our group always has a great time out here,” said Tom Hoover, LARC leader. “We’re glad Tarpon Bay could provide another great trip for people,” explained Hoover.