Refuge Welcomes 2021 Suzanne M Dubuc Education Intern

provided to Santiva Chronicle

Following the hiring of bilingual education intern Alfredo Carbajal earlier this month, Taína A. Milán recently joined the team at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, thanks to funding through the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS). She too will fill the role of bilingual interpreter and translator for the refuge’s forthcoming WoW (Wildlife on Wheels) mobile classroom and other educational “Ding” programs.

Born in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, Milán graduated from Interamerican University, San Germán Campus, in May 2020 with a major in biology. Prior to traveling to “Ding” Darling, she worked as a summer Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) supervisor at the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico.

“Taína’s first language is Spanish, so she will be such a valuable resource in helping us fulfill our mission to reach the local Latin community,” said supervisory refuge ranger Toni Westland. “Our first priority with WoW outreach is to travel to underserved schools and other venues where kids and adults don’t have the opportunity to visit the refuge.”

“I’m looking forward to working directly with the people and helping them know about the different resources the refuge has to offer and also to increase their awareness of the importance of our environment so they will protect it for the future of our society and our planet,” said Milán.

During her initial quarantine period, the intern got to know the island’s flora and fauna by hiking, biking, and photographing the environment, she added.

DDWS provides living stipends and other benefits for about a dozen interns each year. The refuge supports interns with free housing. Milán’s internship was made possible by the 2021 Suzanne M. Dubuc Education Intern Fund, established in the name of a lifelong educator remembered for her creativity in the classroom and later in a retail operation selling educational supplies for teachers.

“Dubuc passed away in 2016, but her commitment to education and the value she placed upon inspiring students continues through this internship in her memory,” said Westland.

“It is an honor to hold an internship named in memory of someone who had such a passion for education and making a difference,” said Milán.

For more information about the refuge’s internship programs and supporting them, contact Lynnae Messina, DDWS associate director, at 239-472-1100 ext. 233. DDWS is now accepting donations for future named intern funds at $12,500 a year, which is the cost for supporting one intern including living stipends, travel, tolls, Sanibel Rec Center membership, and other expenses.

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