Refuge Welcomes Summer WoW Education Intern

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Diana Iglesias 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 will fill the role of bilingual interpreter and translator for the refuge’s WoW (Wildlife on Wheels) mobile classroom and other educational “Ding” programs this summer, a role previously filled by her brother, David, during the 2021-2022 school year.

Born in New York, Iglesias lived most of her life in Lima, Peru. She graduated from Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. Before moving to “Ding,” Iglesias worked in Peru five years in business and business intelligence and later in member services for United Healthcare.

“Diana is fluent in Spanish and English, so she will be such a valuable resource in helping us fulfill our mission to reach the local Latino community,” said “Ding” Darling Urban Education Leader Melissa Maher. “Our first priority with WoW outreach is to travel to Title 1 schools and other venues where kids and adults don’t have the opportunity to visit the refuge.”

“I want to learn as much as I can about teaching,” said Iglesias. “I would like to dedicate my working life to teaching, and there is no better school than WoW, and there is no better teacher than Melissa. I hope to learn techniques and be able to develop professionally in this new area.”

The new intern jumped right into visiting Veteran Park Academy of the Arts in Lehigh Acres with WoW when she started May 16. She looks forward to doing more exploring at the refuge and seeing her first roseate spoonbill.

“My experience so far in the refuge and Sanibel Island has been amazing. I hope to meet the whole team soon and walk all the tracts of the refuge,” said Iglesias. “Everyone in the refuge has been truly kind to me and I am very happy and grateful for this opportunity.”

DDWS provides living stipends and other benefits for about a dozen interns each year. For more information about the refuge’s internship programs and supporting them, contact Sierra Hoisington, DDWS 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 profits. To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit the DDWS website or contact Birgie Miller at 239-472-1100 ext. 4 or

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