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April 20, 2023

Saturday, April 22: Join Us for ‘Ding’ Darling Day Conservation Carnival

The Refuge celebrates its 34th annual “Ding” Darling Day jointly with Earth Day at Lakes Park in Fort Myers Sunday, April 22. The Refuge and DDWS have planned a full day of Conservation Carnival and nature activities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


More than a dozen local conservation non-profits will be participating to engage visitors with information and carnival games where they can earn prizes. Gamers can earn a free mini ice cream cone, plus READ MORE


Sign up today for free Slow-Bird Walks, Kids Nature Hike, and Sketch & Stroll (20 guest maximum for each activity).


Thanks to our generous sponsors who make this free event possible

Sketch & Stroll with Artist in Residence Jacqui Roch.

Great Egret Sponsors: The Jenni & Kyle Foundation

Reddish Egret SponsorsBank of the Islands

Snowy Egret SponsorsGretchen Banks, The Gresham Family, The Dawg Pound, Wheel Fun Rentals

Florida Right to Clean Water

Signatures are being collected to place a constitiutional amendment on the Novermber 2024 Florida ballot to establish a right to clean and health waters for all Floridians. Please support the ballot initiative by signing the petition. 891,589 signatures are needed. This will allow Floridians to vote directly for a right to clean water and give each resident a tool to protect our water. To sign the petition, and learn more

Resilient Lee

Participate in Town Hall Meetings and have your voice heard. Sanibel Meeting is May 1 at 6:00 p.m. Big Arts

Tram on the Drive Again

Last week, Tarpon Bay Explorers’ resumed its narrated tram tours on Wildlife Drive. Current schedule is Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Call 239-472-8900 or visit online to reserve your spots.

Current Refuge Hours:

  • Wildlife Drive - 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Thursday
  • Visitor & Education Center and the "Ding" Darling Nature Store - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Thursday
  • Tarpon Bay Explorers - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday (last rentals at 3 p.m.).
  • Bailey Tract – sunrise-sunset daily.

Watch a two-minute video of Tarpon Bay Explorers’ co-owner Wendy Schnapp after her reopening. 

Snowy Plover Season Has Begun

Snowy plover season is officially in full swing. Click the video to learn more about how to be a good neighbor to this threatened species.

Remember, profits from all Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for educational programs, wildlife research, and overall conservation efforts.

WoW Update: Sunshine Elementary

WoW (Wildlife on Wheels) is wowing students at Title-1 Sunshine Elementary in Lehigh Acres during its current four-week stay. From there, it lands at Lehigh Senior High April 24 to 28.


The general public can experience WoW for free on April 22 to celebrate “Ding” Darling Day and Earth Day at Lakes Park in Fort Myers.


Donate today to support the upkeep and staffing for WoW. That outreach effort alone reaches 7,000 students a year at a cost of about $25 per student. Thank you for helping us spread the conservation message to those with limited opportunities, so they, too, can experience and appreciate wildlife and its habitat.

WoW brings hands-on environmental learning to various cultures.

Hurricane (and Related Environmental) Update

We consistently update our Resource Page and include a hurricane update each week in our "Ding" on the Wing. Call us with any Refuge questions at 239-292-0566.  Here is a printable pdf of resources. We are trying to keep it updated and hoping it helps. 

Here are a few new links: 

  • Visit this link to complete a needs survey to determine priorities for Lee County residents or homeowners impacted by Hurricane Ian. This survey is anonymous.
  • CCP hears of revegetation, ordinances, and more.
  • Guidance on Restoring Your Sanibel Home Post-Hurricane Ian
  • Colorado State University releases first 2023 hurricane forecast.
  • Sanibel fire board OKs rescue vehicle, proceeds on station rebuild. 
  • Florida insurance policyholders warned of risks in choosing next company.
  • Documentary shows Hurricane Ian's devastation on Fort Myers Beach.
  • Florida insurance report cards: How did your company do?
  • Local hurricane shutter company innovating new way to protect homes
  • Broward Flooding: The Science Behind the Historic Flash Floods and Extreme Rain
  • Broward County flooding highlights importance of flood insurance.
  • Seas have drastically risen along southern U.S. coast in past decade.
  • Severe flooding strikes Broward County as area faces historic amounts of rainfall.
  • Sea turtle nesting season starts Saturday
  • As Earth warms, more 'flash droughts' suck soil, plants dry.
  •  Raised Runway at FLL Airport No Match for Historic Rainfall Despite Millions
  • Dramatic sea level rise leaves New Orleans even more vulnerable.
  • Caught off guard: How South Florida's rare storm compares to others, and where it sits in history
  • Seas are rising faster, so Florida must act faster, too.
  • BPA dissolves not-for-profit status with adoption of Blind Pass plan.
  • Agencies urge water conservation amid state's drought conditions.
  • Sea rise could wipe out coastal nesting grounds for endangered Everglades sparrow within decades.
  • Florida eyes plan to use radioactive mining waste in roads.
  • Can this contract be saved? Tense times with water district
  • Greenland's melting ice could be changing our oceans.
  • DeSantis’ Big Bet on Florida’s EPA Takeover Isn’t Paying Off.
  • Agencies urge water conservation amid state's drought conditions.

Looking for Interns

The Refuge and DDWS are calling for intern applications to fill the following positions for fall:


Development & Communications (DDWS)

WoW (Wildlife on Wheels) Education

Visitor Services

Environmental Education

Visit our internships page for more information.

Refuge interns help with education, visitor services, and philanthropic efforts.

Refuge Programming & Events



  • The Nature Store pops up at the Rachel Pierce Art Gallery marketplace from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. most Fridays and other select days through April.

  • During April, a mini-exhibition of Artist in Residence Jacqui Roch’s Refuge-inspired work opens in the Visitor & Education Center Auditorium.

  • Celebrate Islands Night baseball at Hammond Stadium along with “Ding” Darling on May 3. Tickets are available free-of-charge at the Refuge Nature Store

Photo caption: Admire the Refuge-inspired of work of Artist in Residence Jacqui Roch for free in the Visitor & Education Center.

Wellness Tip

As part of our Nature Wellness Program for 2023, watch here for tips and advice on how to center your mind and improve your wellbeing both outdoors and indoors.


Look for Nature Wherever You Are

It might be your backyard, a local garden, a park down the street, or a nearby beach or pathway. Nature is all around us. On Sanibel, you can find nature everywhere, but even in cities where nature can be challenging, there are community gardens or courtyards to discover and explore. Look for the unexpected – a bird singing a song outside your window, a butterfly fluttering on the wind, changes in the weather or clouds and the shapes they make. Try to notice nature wherever you are, in whatever way that is meaningful for you.  

Wildlife Sightings & Tides

Swallow-tailed Kites are showing up all around the Refuge. After spending the fall and winter months in South America, these raptors come to Florida in March to breed. If you want to spot these beautiful birds at the Refuge, look up! You can often see them soaring overhead.

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Debi Griffith

These are just snapshots of some of the things taking place at your Wildlife Refuge. Please check our website to learn more! Thank you for caring!


Birgit Miller, Executive Director

"Ding" On The Wing composed by Chelle Koster Walton. Designed by Ali Reece.

Darling Dose of "Ding"

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