June 24, 2021
In This Issue
An Open Letter to the Army Corps of Engineers

Dear Colonel Kelly,
The Army Corps of Engineers is in the final stages of developing and evaluating 6 scenarios with the goal of choosing one that will form the basis of LOSOM. We recognize that when creating LOSOM it won't be possible to satisfy all of the needs of the various stakeholders. However, we believe that, in order for this process to be deemed a success, LOSOM must Read More
In Case You Missed It...
News about our whopper ninth "Ding" Darling & Doc Ford's Tarpon Tournament   appeared in inserts in local newspapers. See the results and learn about ethical fishing, tarpon lifestyles, and the economic impact of fishing on Florida.
Fourth of July Closures
Since July 4 falls on a Sunday this year, and the "Ding" Darling Visitor & Education Center closes every Sunday, the Refuge staff will observe Independence Day on Monday, July 5, with administration building and Visitor Center closures. Wildlife Drive and its trails, Bailey Tract, and Tarpon Bay Explorers remain open during regular hours. A happy and safe holiday weekend to all!

The DDWS staff has been busy bringing the healing sunshine and beauty of the Refuge to the public through 30-second social media videos. Follow on Facebook to see our #DarlingDoseofDing, brief virtual visits to the Refuge for those who can't make it. 
Romance at the Refuge
Last week, the Refuge Nature Store had an impromptu celebration with newly engaged Lane Church and Abigail Roefaro from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They had just pledged themselves to each other on Wildlife Drive, which we happen to think is one of the most romantic places on the Earth, with all its courting birds and kissing manatees. Do you have a story about an auspicious moment you celebrated at "Ding" Darling? Please send details and a photo, if you have one, to aprilb@dingdarlingsociety.org.
Whether you live on Sanibel Island or in a completely different environment in faraway places like Oklahoma or Washington State, we want to see what you're seeing in your habitat.

Thanks to Kim Elling from Arnold, Maryland.

Thanks to John Ascherman from Aurora, Indiana.

Please  email your nature photos so we can share them with others. Include details about the photographer and where the photo was taken.
Tarpon Bay Ramp Open
After a short closure to motorized launching, the Tarpon Bay Explorers boat ramp at the Refuge Tarpon Bay Recreation Area is back open to both motorized and nonmotorized vessel launching. While parking lot construction continues at the Tarpon Bay Recreation Area, Tarpon Bay Explorers remains fully open for business.
Tarpon Bay Explorers is fully open while parking lot construction continues.

In a recent virtual award ceremony, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) Southeast Region honored the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society with the 2021 Regional Director's "Friends Group of the Year" award. DDWS is the nonprofit partner to the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, one of 146 refuges and fish hatcheries within the Southeast region, which encompasses 12 U.S. states and territories.

DDWS was one of two refuge friends groups out of 49 to receive the award this year.
"This stands as a testimony to the hard work each of you put READ MORE
Remember, profits from all Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for 
educational programs, wildlife research, and overall conservation efforts.
Oh, Baby!
You are invited to our summer 2021 Virtual Baby Bird Shower. Watch a sweet video about the birth of this year's Black-necked Stilts at the Refuge, learn fun facts about the species, play cute shower games, and pledge a symbolic baby gift. We're almost halfway to our $5,000 goal.

Free Summer Tours

Join our volunteers and staff for Beach Walk and other free summer programs.
Free summer Refuge tours run from June 20 through August 7 this year. There's no set schedule, so monitor our Eventbrite page to see what staff and volunteers are offering each week and to sign up for tours such as Children's Program, Mindfulness Walk at Bailey Tract, and Beach Walk. Please bring sunscreen, water, and your own binoculars and scopes.

Next scheduled tours: Thursday, June 24, 9 a.m.: Beach Walk
Saturday, June 26, 8:30 a.m.: Mindfulness Walk at Bailey Tract
Check out our Summer Tours Flyer.
Conservation Grant Report

The "Ding" Education Committee recently received a grant report and photos as a result of a DDWS Environmental Education Grant awarded to teacher Julie Ross at Lehigh Senior High School for a retention pond study that was to be completed in 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
She wrote: "This lab has allowed students to gain a real-world perspective of how water systems are connected. This has also enabled my students to gain experience using equipment that scientists are currently using in the field to better understand our water quality issues and concerns. Students have greatly benefited from this project as it has increased their awareness, enabled them to practice the scientific method, and learn how to collect and analyze scientific data."

To support educational grants and other conservation  education projects at "Ding" Darling.
Last Friday, Rachel painted artful Father's Day cards in a special outdoor program. Here's the gang, pictured with Ranger Toni (front left) and Rachel Pierce, directly behind her.
July 1: FREE Paint with Rachel  
On Thursday, July 1, DDWS Artist in Residence leads Painting on the Patio outdoors at the Visitor & Education Center. Paint seashells with patriotic themes and learn about Sanibel shells at artful and educational sessions starting at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Participation is limited to 10 pre-registered guests for each session.
Watch the Artist-in-Residence web page for news of other upcoming activities with Rachel, including a pop-up plein-air demo and painting back-to-school tote bags.
Donate to support free educational programs such as this at the Refuge.
Wildlife Viewing Etiquette

1. Keep your hands to yourself.
2. Report wildlife that seems abandoned or sick.
3. Keep pets at home or on a leash.
4. Hang back and enjoy the view.
5. Lend a hand with trash removal.
6. Keep your snacks to yourself.
7. Lead by example.

'America's Best-Kept Secret'
In each issue of "Ding" on the Wing, we showcase one of the more than 
560 refuges across the U.S.A. that is open to the public. 
Images courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Location: 1,091 acres; Jupiter, Florida
Totemic fauna: Leatherback Sea Turtle, Florida Manatee, Piping Plover
Visitor tip: The Hobe Sound Nature Center, Inc. is a non-profit environmental education organization that partners with the refuge. It is located at the refuge headquarters and operates the refuge visitor center.

Florida Manatee
Leatherback Sea Turtle

Click HERE to see this week's wildlife sightings.

Photo by Liz Noffsinger

Manatees are always a crowd favorite at the Refuge. These slow-moving mammals can often be found munching on seagrass and enjoying the warm waters of Southwest Florida. Did you know Manatees can stay submerged for up to 20 minutes?

To see more wildlife photos, click on our social media links:

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If you have taken any beautiful, interesting, or just plain goofy photos at the Refuge, send them to Development Officer Sierra Hoisington for a chance to be featured in upcoming newsletters.
New Look for Online Nature Store 

Improved graphics, informative videos, and a fresh look characterize the latest upgrades to our
Nature Store website. Visit today and often to find something new and exciting every week.

Free Summer Programs - Through August 7, 2021

Great American Outdoors Day - August 4, 2021

Artist-in-Residence Exhibition - October 1 - November 10, 2021

"Ding" Darling Day - October 10, 2021

Niki Butcher Photographic Exhibition - November 15 - December 31, 2021. Sponsored by Wayne & Linda Boyd.

Ding's Wild Daze Beer Rollout - December 4, 2021 (tentative)

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

Birgit Miller, Executive Director

"Ding" On The Wing composed by Chelle Koster Walton.  Designed by Sierra Hoisington & April Boehnen. 

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