provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Energy and enthusiasm was abundant at this week’s meeting! If you have not been to Ding Darling lately, you must stop in for a visit. Ranger Toni Westland and Associate Executive Director, Ann-Marie Wildman, shared the many new and exciting events and programs happening at the refuge.
The updated mission of the Refuge to “working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People” is quite accurate. They are partnering with others to offer some of the best programming ever seen! Art in the Wild celebrates National Wildlife Refuge Week and the birthday of their namesake, Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, their popular Lecture Series addresses topics such as surviving hurricanes and microplastics in water. WoW! is their Wildlife of Wheels mobile classroom that visits schools, libraries, conservation-minded events, and economically challenged and minority communities to teach about water quality, the ecosystem, wildlife, and other topics that meet the Refuge’s mission. Their Nature Wellness Program offers wellness of the mind and mental health with The Self-Guided Mindfulness Trail, meditation, Mindful Mondays, and Refuge Yoga amongst many other opportunities. They also offer scholarships and internships for students interested in Environmental Studies. The impressive programming list goes on and on.
The J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1945 as the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge, the refuge was renamed in 1967 in honor of pioneer conservationist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling. The refuge consists of over 6,300 acres of mangrove forest, cordgrass marshes, and West Indian hardwood hammocks. Approximately 2,800 acres of the refuge are federally designated as Wilderness Area. The refuge was created to safeguard and enhance the pristine wildlife habitat of Sanibel Island, to protect endangered and threatened species, and to provide feeding, nesting and roosting areas for migratory birds. Today, the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge provides important habitat to over 170 species of birds.
Be sure to visit them in person, or on their website to see all of the programs and events offered at Ding.