Refuge Welcomes New Education Intern

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Education intern Olivia Hogan recently arrived to help the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island with staffing shortages this season, thanks to funding from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS).

Hogan graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., in May 2022 with a major in marine science (biology concentration) and a minor in coastal management. The Frederick, Md., native wrapped up a summer internship at Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center in New Jersey before arriving to Sanibel Island.

At “Ding” Darling, she will be helping the refuge conservation education team with program development and delivery to local students and visitors through May 2023. She is most looking forward to teaching students from The Sanibel School, who visit monthly for in-the-field lessons at the Wildlife Education Boardwalk (WEB).

For the refuge partnership with The Sanibel School, each classroom from grades 1 to 5 will visit the WEB, which connects Refuge wetlands with the school’s back yard. Hogan and other refuge educators bring classroom lessons to the outdoors in a real-time setting for each of about 150 students every month with a different theme and curriculum that reinforces Florida state standards.

“I’m loving Sanibel,” said Hogan. “I most love working with the ‘Ding’ Darling team, exploring Wildlife Drive, and taking the bike trails to the beach.”

“Our interns bring youthful energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to the refuge team,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland. “At the same time, the program gives students and recent graduates an opportunity to learn hands-on about the environment and refuge operations. Olivia’s work will help us fulfill a vision to partner with The Sanibel School, a vision we have mapping out for more than 10 years.”

To learn about supporting the refuge intern program, contact Sierra Hoisington, DDWS executive associate director, at 239-472-1100 ext. 233.

As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop proceeds. To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit or contact Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or

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